Friday 5 August 2011

Holiday to Spain: day 3 (sort of)

Blogging on holiday: how something. But since I can, I will. This is Miriam's laptop, brought because she wanted to and perhaps to load pictures onto. We're in camping La Paz, near Vidialgo which is bizarrely idyllic. Or at least it was, yesterday, when it was sunny. Last night it rained, and today it has been grey and often drizzly, which it must be admitted is less pleasant. But the site remains good.

But let me quickly go backwards, before I forget:

Our ferry left at 5 on tuesday, so we get there at 4, so we leave home at 1, to give us some spare, and hope for no horrors on the M25. So we pack monday night but, err, don't quite finish, so we finish at 1:30 on tuesday :-) And off we go, and horror-free arrive at 4, having listened to a bit of teach-yourself-Spanish CD in the car, and realised its going to be harder than we thought, despite D's learning it at school (and E, a bit).

On board, to our cabin in a generally trouble-free manner, realise that the spare beds come down from the ceiling (most ingenious) and go onto the promenade at the back in time to see the Rankins drive on. Go for a cafe in the cafe, and begin the process of understanding the passageways and stairways of this enormous ship. The sea is calm, we leave port, the children disappear into the cabin with Billy, Stan and Joe (of Val+Dave) and are not to be removed to witness the wonders of the port leaving, so M and I do until we're well away from the Isle of Wight. Misc stuff, inc swimming in the pool on deck 9 for E, light dinner, and sitting around reading books, before late bedtime; D and E on the upper bunks. Before sleep I set my alarm for a guessed-at 5, in order to see the sunrise (the sunset was good). And so I do: 5 turns out to be too early by about an hour, but I sit outside in the cool-but-not-chill for the dawn. Which is just about visible through a thin slit in the eastward cloud bank (at that point we're just rounding Finistere, I think, because I could see light houses, before going into the dreaded Bay of Biscay, against which M has bought seasickness tablets. But the sea remains millpond calm. And so the day passes: the odd whale or dolphin is seen, at which point everyone rushes to the rail, but not many. I am still reading The Count of Monte Christo on my Kindle. We drink Miriam's birthday champagne. And all too soon, we're coming into Santander: I'm surprised: I thought I'd get bored, but no.

What with a slight disembarkation delay, we're not off till about 7, and we're supposed to get to Santillana del Mar to pick up the key by 8, but this works - it is only 1/2 hour - except when there we realise we don't know where to go. So we park, ask the nice tourist lady, whose English just extends to telling us where to go, and we do, and lo! Our appt, which is a 1-star thing M booked online late, is right in the center of the village and quite cute: in an old building above the shoe-shop, dark wood stairs and panelling. So that is all fine, we need to get stuff from the car and we need to eat, and we manage this (possibly heading a bit too downmarket in our pizza place, but the food was OK if unexcitingly presetned). We've now wandered a bit too much for our darling infants legs, but return to the church plaza and sit them down while M and I admire and circumambulate it before returning to bed.

The next morning I again have ambitions to see the sun rise, so set the alarm for 7 (because there was oddities with my watches timekeeping on the ferry: when I had looked, later, it had gone over to GMT, since we were in international waters? I didn'[t quite work it out...) and rise and don shoes and run down the cobbled street to the main road and off towards the dawn. Running gently uphill the sky was pink and apricot and the hills lined in gentle mist the was it used to be above Lescun in the morning. Cresting the rise I was slightly disappointed to see the orange sun above the horizon: tomorrow will have to be 6:30 I suppose. Head down towards the sea, rather unsure of where I am, but content that I'll find out later from my GPS track. Head towards Suances, but take (what I later find is, I think) calle de Casanova towards the sea, then back W and home via Ubiarco, nearly going totally wrong just before home until I recognised the town by its church.

And so (cutting short) I get back and shower; go with M for breakfast cos the kids are still in bed (coffee and pane, the latter served with olive oil); return, kids still abed, so look round the town, go into the church and cloisters (many pix; the cloisters are lovely, the church interior unexciting. Many of the cloister capitals are of knight-fighting-dragon type; and the village has a legend of St Julliana taming a demon and leading it on a leash). There are three archways in the clositers where the ivy hangs down producing a beautiful effect as the sun shines though. In the street, more pix of the various armorial crests on the house walls; they were all "palaccios" or somesuch in the old days, and several buildings (inc ours) are heavy stone below, and the upper storey of wood with brick infill, doubtless where the old house fell down. Somehow the place is not to my taste: the stonework is too heavy and forced, though pleasant enough for a brief visit. Oh dear, I see I'm not very short after all.

Pack and off, kids b'fast via a pastry shop, its very hot, drive along to LLanes, which is where the campsite is. But, err, where in Llanes? Drive through, slowly, the congested town ceter, several times. Stop for a cafe. Drive again. Eventually realise that it is several km back along the road at Vidialgo... oops, we just read "Llanes" and stopped there. Go back, down a track, and arrive, get a place next to the Rankins, and the place is wonderful, delightful, surprising. It is in a valley and hillside by the sea, with its own beach. At first, it is hard to see how big it is, because it is so steep and hidden amongst the hillsides. Well, take a look via my link at the top. We have a nice shady pitch and put our tent up in less time than it takes the Rankins to finish putting up theirs, sit quietly for a bit, then all down to the beach for a swim. I takes a while for me to decide to go in, because it feels chill, but once in I swim and then (having taken off my glasses) bodyboard, and it is splendid. Andy ends up going in au naturel, having seen someone else do the same, and no-one blinks an eye.

[TODO: cafe, evening, o'night rain, run next day, M's run, path, today, loss of watch :-(]

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