Altamira came as a real surprise and we spent most of the morning exploring it. It was a good job we did because outside it was still raining and was quite damp so after we had walked to see the actual opening to the cave (it wasn’t very exciting I have to say) we debated our options and after some indecision decided to go west again to where it seemed a little brighter. We drove along the Autovia for about twenty kilometres but the weather looked just as grim in front so we turned around and agreed that the best plan might be to go to the city of Santander where it wouldn’t matter if it were raining.
Actually, when we arrived there it was raining so hard that it did matter. It was that sideways rain that makes an umbrella superfluous (especially a £2.50 model from Wilkos) and which soaks you from every angle. Not that this happened to us however because we did a circuit of the city and then drove straight out and back to Santillana Del Mar and I am now so familiar with that stretch of the E70 motorway that I could choose it as a specialist subject on Mastermind!
It was raining in Santillana Del Mar but at least it was only that gentle sort of rain, which isn’t too much of an inconvenience and anyway we didn’t plan to be out in it for long because it was lunchtime and our plan was to return to the Restaurant ‘Castilla’ for some food. We choose different items off the menu and spent a pleasant hour with good food and a bottle of wine and we watched as the rain became heavier and the sky became darker. Eventually it was time to leave and once again we had to debate our options to fill up our last afternoon.
As we returned to the car quite unexpectedly the sky began to brighten in the west again so we decided that this was the sensible direction to head for. As we drove along the coast the weather improved dramatically and within a few kilometres we were regularly stopping the car and exploring the rugged coastline where the cliffs were worn into gnarled and distorted shapes by the wind, the rain and the sea.
The sea was big and dramatic today and the waves were pounding into the beaches and over the rocks. By the time we arrived back in Comillas the sky was blue and there was an opportunity for an exciting walk along the headland dodging the spray as the waves pounded in and crashed over the town’s sea defences. We walked around for a while and were pleased that the day had ended with blue skies and sunshine. Cantabria was a real unexpected surprise and somewhere that I would definitely return to.
We drove back along the E70 for a final time, refuelled the car and made good time getting back to the airport until I managed to take a wrong turn and get lost right at the end of the journey. It wasn’t a major problem however and soon we were returning the keys to the car hire desk. The girl on duty apologised for the appalling weather and the fact that it had been raining constantly for two whole days. We told her that actually we had enjoyed excellent blue skies in Comillas and a pavement lunch in San Vincente and she seemed a little surprised by that.
It seemed that we had been very lucky and the departure lounge was full of bedraggled people who had clearly spent the weekend in the rain sodden Santander and we hoped we wouldn’t have to sit next to damp person on the plane.
We needn’t have worried about that because hardly anyone got on and I counted less than fifty passengers on the three hundred seater aircraft. I have never seen so few people on a plane and I was surprised by that because after all the flight price was only £5.00 and that included the ludicrous £4.00 credit card fee, still we weren’t complaining and even though this was only Ryanair this was almost like travelling in our own private jet.