Santander, 30 July-3 August

British children are taught that The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain.

It is not so.

Arriving from the bus station, we asked the bus driver what the weather had been like. “Mixed,” she said. “It depends on the weather.”

kiosk rain Santander 716.JPG

casino cafe rain Santander 716.JPG

Centro Botin, Santander 716.JPG

People at weddings and suchlike, at the Casino, at the Duluz restaurant, greeted each other in smart clothes and ignored the rain that was falling.

It wasn’t all rain. As a collector of numbers I was interested in this man’s shirt. If there were more like this, my task (I am currently stuck on 181) would be easier. For some reason, all the tops that you see with numbers have one or two numbers only. Because they have their origins in American sports shirts?

man with unusual number Santander 716 family.JPG

When it was hot, though, it was hot. This even though – like Simla – Santander was where the posh people from the capital used to come to avoid the heat of the summer. The town built a summer palace for King Alfonso XIII. Our hotel was in this part, a km or two from the town centre, with big villas and big beaches from which we swam while merchant ships passed in the distance.

columns, mosaic Santander 716 2.JPG

I liked it that there is still a newspaper culture here. When I got to the front of the queue, though, all they had in English was (that day’s) Financial Times. Later we found an old Le Monde and once – treat of treats – the previous day’s Daily Telegraph.

newspaper kiosk Santander 716.JPG

The Russian shop near the port even had posters in Russian stuck on the nearby walls.

Russian shop Santander 816.JPG

I went for a couple of morning runs along the seafront. The first day was so wet that my running shoes didn’t dry for a day and a half; still there were 26 other runners out – a good turnout – 24 men, one woman and one dog. Later, on a dry day, there were 25 men and 14 women.

In the Méson Rampalay we had patatas bravas (chips). At our request the waiter brought us salt and pepper. When he cleared the table for the next course, big prawns, he took the condiments away.

(Like me, my father loved puns. One Christmas my mother asked him to pass the salt. He did so, And the condiments of the seasoning to you, my dear.)

De Bellis Antiquitaitis is a perfect game for bar tables. This picture shows Fatimid Egyptians ready to take on Feudal Spanish.

DBA Fatimids Santander 816.JPG

One day we had lunch in the Plaza Cañadio, on the terrace of a restaurant called Cañadio.

flats Cañadio Santander 716 Santander 816.JPG

It was hot; these blokes maneouvred carefully so we could be in the shade.

adjusting table Cañadio Santander 716 Santander 816.JPG

I didn’t fancy the salmorejo, a soup made of bread and tomato which includes a blob of tomato ice cream…

salmorejo Cañadio Santander 716 Santander 816.JPG

… and was a little disappointed by the lack of a stronger taste in my red scorpionfish pudding, though I liked the look of it…

red scorpionsfish pudding Cañadio Santander 716 Santander 816.JPG

it’s fun writing these food words.

dry dock Santander 716.JPG

The city has a dry dock like the one in which L’Hermione was reconstructed at Rochefort (but less deep).

back seat of bus (not for under 16s) Santander 716.JPG

There’s an excellent bus service. On the back seats, under-16s are forbidden.

One thing I noticed, after Brussels, after Paris, was the lack of soldiers on the street with guns. The first time I saw such a thing – and I remember being shocked – was in Barcelona in 1979.

Here are a few of the interesting buildings: the cathedral, the post office, flats in town, the Centro Botín.

cathedral Santander 716.JPG post office Santander 716.JPG

flats Santander 716.JPG

Centro Botin Santander 716 3.JPG

I had hopes of finding another because a city guide said that “The square Plaza del Ayuntamiento…’s new bus shelter was designed by … Norman Foster… It is … clean, simple and elegant, like everything created by this British Lord.” I am interested in bus stops and looked out for it, but do not believe that the bus stop I found on that square can be it:

"British Lord" bus stop Santander 716 Santander 816.JPG

One more transport fact: the green man on the pedestrian crossing crosses with vigour. [Imagine an illustrative video; I can’t work out how to upload them.]


Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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