June 20:  Santander to Santillana del Mar  27,642 steps

Today's plan was a two part project.  Originally when scheduling the hotel stays there was no place from Santander to Santillana del Mar, a distance of over 43 kilometers to stay.  The choices were a night in a farmer's field, a hostel with a bunch of teenagers, a pilgrim refuse with snoring pilgrims in a bunk house or two nights in the same multi-starred hotel.  If we chose the hotel, then it would mean either walking half the distance and taxiing in the rest with the second day option of taxiing back out and finishing the walk -- or doing the second day first to see if taxiing was even an option -- or not walking at all and taxiing to the new town.  Each one of us got to contemplate (the pilgrim way) and chose what we wanted to do.  My group -- let's taxi to the half way point and walk in and decide later about the rest.

The morning alarm rang to the sound of rain drops on the window.  This didn't change the plans, just the time of departure and the attire!!!  Those lovely blue tarps (ponchos) were the order of the day again.

As luck would have it, as soon as we stepped from the taxi and found our favorite yellow arrow the rain turned to drizzle and finally stopped.  The clouds graced us all day, which was a nice cover from the sun.  The road was paved, but after a few kilometers turned off the state road onto an old country road complete with cows, tractors, sheep, and the neighborhood vegetable man.  In this part of the country, the old fashion home delivery system that we all knew as children, is in full business here.  The vegetable man drives up and down the road announcing  his arrival with his horn slowing only to greet the women of the town and give the latest news from the town before.  The bread man is out there too -- in a modern station wagon, but doing the same thing.  The cows have the right away around milking time.  There is nothing like looking up for a moment as one climbs a hill to see a herd of cows rushing down after a tractor headed to the barn.  Makes one really want to yield the right away!!!  We even saw a young woman with a switch gently patting a herd on the backend to encourage them to move along.  We decided that we didn't want to stop her!!  

The countryside was alive with color and sound.  The fields were patch worked in different colors depending on their produce.  The birds were singing, the butterflies flittering, the cows mooing, the sheep naying, the bulls glaring; everything was creating the perfect walk.  The rain had cooled the air and the terrain was rolling allowing a rest after each slight rise.  The mountains had disintegrated into hills and went on forever.  We were working our way inland now, so the sight of the sea was gone, but certainly replaced with another form of beauty.  

Descending down a small hill we sighted our destination for the night -- Santillana del Mar.  It is a medieval city buried deep into the valley as it was many centuries ago.  As we passed through the city wall and began our stroll down the main cobblestone avenue we were taken far back into time.  Each building, each street, each wall, church, everything was from the 9th century.  Even our hotel was a former palace in the village.  It felt as if you were the private guest of the manor of the house from long ago. 

After checking in -- a little exploration of the village -- we settled into acting like the royal family that resided there many years before.  A nice dinner, a short stroll and then chocolate, coffee, and cake on the terrace!!!  Such a life. 

Angela conquering that mountain!

Angela and Frankie resting

How does darn thing work?

I have no clue!


Santillana del Mar from afar

Angela on arrival in Santillana del Mar

Our Hotel!

Our Leader -- Don Q