June 21:  Santillana del Mar   12,459 steps

The decision by some of the group today was to not go all the way back to Santander and walk to the midpoint, mainly because we were not sure that we would be able to find a taxi and -- this town had so much to see and do we felt that we could easily get our mileage in for the day.

After a great breakfast in a small corner cafe across from the hotel, we set out for the Caves of Altamira 2 kilometers outside of town.  The caves are one of the most important monuments of prehistoric art in the world.  According to experts, the paintings on the ceiling of the large natural room of Altamira Cave considered to be "the Sistine Chapel of quaternary art", were executed some 13,8000 years before Christ.  They were discovered by chance in 1868 by a tenant farmer who lived near by.  Today the original main chamber is closed to the public to protect it, but has been reproduced with amazing accuracy in an adjacent area.  The museum and tour were well worth the climb to the top of the hillside.  

A ride on the "pilgrim train" brought us back to the town and a visit to the Cloisters of Collegiate Church, itself a masterpiece from long ago.  The church main altar rises high up into the ceiling with frescos edged in gold and silver.  The stonework surrounding the altar is carved in fine detail of animals, legends, symbols, each significant to the church.

The usual non-walking day siesta is a requirement, so most headed to the hotel and bedded down.  Journal writing, sleeping, resting, -- whatever turns you on!!!

This evening will bring out a stroll around the village, a little coffee or wine, and to bed early, for tomorrow it is back out on the road again!!

Sue & Angela at the Altamira Cave entrance

Happy Pilgrims on the "Pilgrim Train"

Frankie at Church

The Cloisters

Inside the Cloisters

The Original Pilgrim