Before we left England, we tried not to speculate too much about what our holiday would look like, but if I’d let myself imagine our arrival in Santander, it definitely would not have looked like this.
We pushed our bikes off the ferry surrounded by a smoky plume of freight hauler lorries and a handful of other intrepid cyclists.
Santander was grey and wet. Extremely wet. It was that big fat summer storm kind of rain, except this was no fleeting summer storm, for one thing, it was pretty cold and, for another, it showed not a single hint of stopping. Messages we’d received from home about the heatwave in England weren’t helping matters either.
Undeterred, we tramped onwards and cycled the 3 or so miles to the campsite. Along the way, we had our first two calamities: one completely unnecessary detour up an extremely steep hill and one accident. Nev managed to topple sideways when the cycle lane we were on inexplicably turned from grippy concrete to bumpy and extremely slippery wooden sleepers. It was one of those amusing-to-watch slow motion kind of incidents as the weight of the bike overtook Nev’s strength and ability. A kind Spanish passer-by helped to lift his bike off the floor (the shock of how unexpectedly heavy Nev’s bike was clearly visible on his face as he did so).
Grazed and slightly bruised but with no major injuries (except maybe his pride), we soldiered on through the downpour.
I think it’s fair to say that putting our tent up for the first time in torrential rain isn’t going to go down as one of the finest moments of our trip, but we got there, made the tent all cosy, had a siesta and then ventured out (still raining) to a nearby boat restaurant for tea (the restaurant was made out of a boat). It was at this point that we realised we probably should have made more of an effort learning the local language as neither of us could remember how to ask for a table (“Quisiera una mesa para dos por favor” – now firmly ingrained in our brains). We somehow managed to end up with quite a few plates of food, all involving choritzo in various formats and a bottle of Rioja. Yum. All for only 25EURO too. Total bargain.
Waking up on day 2 (still raining), I started to think my decision not to bring moisturiser as “I’ll be wearing sun cream every day anyway” may have been a tad optimistic. Not to be disheartened, we managed to use our increasingly impressive Spanglish to hire some golf clubs and had fun wacking some balls at the local driving range, trying to ignore the small Spanish child mocking us for our less than impressive golf skills.
Also of note on day 2: being stopped in the street and asked, by a man with a posh English accent, if we knew anywhere to buy “Hashish” (occupational hazard of having dreadlocks – everyone assumes you’re a stoner); and meeting a lovely Scottish man on the campsite, also on a bike, who kindly offered us some (s)mash potato for tea. We declined.
In the afternoon, the sun finally made an appearance so we explored the local area of Cabo Mayor on our bikes. We found a beautiful and extremely well-kempt beach hidden in a tiny cove, so we played in the sea and my gym buddies back home will be proud to hear I did my daily plank challenge on the sand.
Later, we visited another local restaurant. This one sadly wasn’t boat shaped but it did inexplicably have a horse racing theme, which was pretty fun. We think perhaps it used to be a race circuit; maybe we’ll google it later. After spending at least half an hour deciphering the menu, we filled our bellies and went back to the tent to read a book about Moldywarps.