When we reached the motorway we headed promptly west again and in a very short time we were in the fishing town of San Vicente De La Barquera, which was busier than Comillas and even in mid December had a hint of vibrancy. The sky was blue and the sun was shining and despite my horrible
cold man flu this made me feel a whole lot better. There was an interesting castle and an old town that stretched from the headland to the church of Santa María de los Ángeles and which enjoyed magnificent views over a busy river estuary to the mountains beyond. And there was a good view of the Maza Bridge, with its twenty-eight arches, which was built on the orders of the Spanish Catholic Monarchs in the sixteenth century.
Even though most of the local people were dining indoors, for people from the north with thicker blood it was warm enough to sit out on the pavement and have some sea food dishes and a bottle of local white wine and we enjoyed paella and a generous portion of fresh sardines and sat in the sunshine and watched the boats in the harbour as the tide continued to rush in and make them dance about on the water.
Before we left San Vicente we drove down to the sea front where the waves were crashing in over the harbour walls with an intense force and we admired the power of the sea. This place was rather like Cornwall or South Wales with a lively Atlantic Ocean, a working fishing port and an intense blue sea fringed by verdant green fields. We were reluctant to leave but there were still thinks to see and we hadn’t visited the town of Santillana Del Mar yet, which is supposed to be one of the prettiest in Spain.
We drove east and as we did so the weather deteriorated and when we arrived in Santillana the sun had completely disappeared behind a curtain of grey sky. We parked the car and walked into the town that turned out to be a real treasure. It was an unspoilt medieval town with a famous old church and cobbled piazzas and historic old buildings at every twist and turn in the streets and in fact the town is so aesthetically perfect that it has been declared a National Monument of Spain. We visited the church that wasn’t especially good value for money and then we explored the town looking for dining opportunities for later on.
It was getting cool so we left the town and returned to Ubiarco but before we returned to the Posada San Telmo we drove past to see if there might be alternative restaurants in the other direction. We came across the beach of Santa Justa and even though it was getting dark we drove down and walked down to the sea.
The tide was fully in and the waves were crashing over the rocks and we were surprised to see the vulnerable Chapel of Santa Justa built directly into the rocks and taking the full force of the surf. Actually, it turns out that it has been there for four hundred years so presumably it is quite sturdy and quite able to stand up to the winter battering from the sea. We took a look at the nearby town of Suances but we saw nothing to take us back so we drove back to Ubiarco and after a rest we went back to Santillana for our evening meal.
The town was quite lively on account of this being the start of the nativity season and there was a firework display and a street party for the children, which made the place temporarily busy. We looked around and chose the lively Restaurant ‘Castilla’ for our evening meal and we enjoyed a substantial menu del dia and a couple of glasses of wine to finish the day. When we left, an hour or so later, it was cold but the sky was clear and we hoped for another unexpectedly good day tomorrow.