Camino Day 11: Santander to Santillana del Mar

Today was definitely hard leaving Santander. After hitting snooze way too many times and crawling back under the covers, Mikey put it best by likening getting up with skydiving. I mean, why would you jump out of a perfectly good plane?!

     
Well, the first step is the hardest. 

           
Early on, we crossed a bridge that carried cars and pedestrians over a river. If you can’t make out what’s in the water, just look at the next image;

            
There were literally hundreds of fish swimming upstream! Mikey couldn’t figure out why no one was fishing off the bank below until he noticed the chemical factory on the far bank. Oh, well. Swim far, two headed fish!

     

The countryside was just really beautiful. Well, really beautiful and really hot. By noon it had reached over 95*F and the path ran along the shoulder of an asphalt highway. 

     
What can we say? Only in Spain. 

     
Oh, and this bit was really creepy. That’s a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs birdbath. Again, only in Spain!

     

Well, at long last we arrived in Santillana del Mar – a medieval village that seems somehow locked in time. 

          


This is the Collegiate Church of Santillana del Mar which was built in the 10th century. 

     

So what’s the first thing our pilgrim protagonist does when rolling into a medieval village? He “Marty McFly’s” it and orders a glass of milk! Well, almost – let’s explain. Santillana is a huge tourist destination. Ergo, it’s like a one-stop shop for all things Cantabrian. From jams to sardines and venison chorizo to queso its an all hands effort to separate the vacationers from their euros. 

     

There was a farm that Mikey had passed a few miles back that also has a direct sales location in town. The “happy hour” special today was a glass of milk and a quesada for 2€. 

    


The milk was straight out of the cow! Like, it still had that stick to the roof of the mouth creaminess. The milkmaid told Mikey that it was fresh from this morning (and he’s pretty trusting of milkmaids in general.) 

     

So what is a quesada? Well, apart from being utterly delicious, according to Wikipedia:

“Quesada Pasiega is a dessert typical of the region of Cantabria, Spain. It has the consistency of a dense pudding and is made from milk, sugar, butter, wheat flour, and egg, and flavored with lemon zest and cinnamon.” Yum. 

     

Everything in Santillana is picturesque. They don’t allow cars (for the most part) so it’s really tourist friendly insofar as everyone mills about on cobblestone streets. 

      
They even do laundry with class!

     

Speaking of class, while a lot of the town was having their siesta, Mikey headed down to the Diocese Musuem to check out the goods and maybe learn something. 

     

This was just a small section of the Silver Room (actually a vault) where they keep the expensive stuff. It was really interesting seeing the boom in ornateness during the height of Spanish colonial rule. 

     

This 10th century stone carving depicts both the Christian cross and the pagan sun symbol. Remember how we talked about this in Santander? Ok, just checking. 

          

The museum had a wonderful collection of wooden carvings. This one depicting tbe scourging of Christ was life sized and pretty intense. 

     

Oh, and remember those brothers who were martyred and had their heads encased in silver? Well, I guess they were pretty popular because someone did a life sized wood carving as well. 

     

As the church was scheduled to open following siesta, Mikey headed over only to find that it was closed for a funeral. Well, if you can’t go to church, why not visit the Church’s “Inquisition: The Museum of Torture?!?”

     

OK, so it was an extra euro and Mikey had been there before many years ago when he was a student in Spain. Actually, the funny thing was that the last time he visited both this village and museum, it was with a Southern Baptist missionary from Tennessee. 

      

This is the classic interrogation chair. (Mikey couldn’t get that Monty Python “Comfy Chair” sketch out of his head!)

      

This pretty realistic garrote was placed alone in the attic of the museum. Frighteningly, this was a standard form of execution in Spain until 1975. 

    

Oh, and this is the skull crusher. No need for explanation.

   

(Awkward segue from skull crusher to…)  

Then it was time for dinner and bed. This cheeseburger was amazing and had a huge hunk of local goat cheese on it. Delicious!

     

I guess that’s about all for Santillana del Mar. Tomorrow is a pretty chill day so let’s chat then from the town of Comillas. Ciao.