Camino Day 13: Comillas to Colombres

Today we said goodbye to the province of Cantabria and began our trek through Asturias. Although the walk was an easy-going 20 miles, Mikey wanted to have the included breakfast at his hotel. As it didn’t start until 9am, we left a little later than expected.


Aside from being “carb-o-licious,” it was just cute! The lady who runs the small hotel checked Mikey in at 3pm, was there to open the door at 10:30pm, and had tables set up for each room by 9am the next morning!


    What you’re seeing is a pot of coffee, a pitcher of steamed milk, OJ, toast, and apple fritter, some kind of packaged puff pastry (did not try), butter, English-style biscuits, an assortment of jams, olive oil, and crushed tomatoes. Not the best breakfast ever, but “A” for effort!


While we’re grading, Mikey was quite proud to channel past middle school geography lessons in pointing out that this is an estuary. (His actual description was more like “It’s that brackish part where the river and ocean meet and the fish get confused,” but we think he’s got the basic idea.)


Well, we did get some great views in today! The camino followed the sea along some impressive hills for quite a ways into San Vicente de la Barquera.


Speaking of views, while Mikey loves this sign, the guys below it seemed a bit confused.


Not exactly cattle, these “bronies” were very approachable. Yeah, they had a bit of a surfer air to them, but had great views of the sea.


In just a little while, we entered San Vicente. This huge nautical metalwork on the side of a building clearly states the significance of the local maritime industry.


While the present-day town is more geared to tourism, its medieval section dates back to the 13th century CE.


This is the 13th century Church of Saint Mary of the Angels. It was interesting for Mikey as the cathedral in Los Angeles is named “Our Lady of the Angels.”


Oh, and for those of you who are keeping track at home, the Catholic “Mariology” doctrine that gained such acclaim/notoriety under Pope John Paul II and is responsible for the specific naming of the LA cathedral has been around for a long time. Case in point: the church in San Vicente.


Like much of the old part of the city, it was constructed in the 13th century and is gothic in architectural style. Oh, remember those churches by the sea that had model ships hanging from the ceilings? Look to the left in the above photo.


Here’s a magnified version. That’s an angel, but he’s holding an oar. Talk about your guardian angel for those at sea!


While the above tomb is one of the best preserved examples in Spain of renaissance funerary art, you wouldn’t want this guy watching over you! Remember that torture museum from the other day? Well, this gated chapel holds the remains of Antonio del Corro – a notorious inquisitor from Seville who would have loved to serve you tea in that spiked chair. Pretty tomb, ugly guy.


Back to art, while the altar is more of a renaissance to early baroque style, it fits well within its gothic architectural confines.


As for confines – once back on the road, this little lamb reminded us that “the grass is greener on the other side!” Well, mostly he reminded Mikey that his breakfast had long since passed and he needed a break if he was to continue.


Right on cue, a bar appeared and Mikey got to enjoy a slice of tortilla española. Now, this one was a bit different as it was stuffed with tomato, lettuce, tuna, and mayo. So, it was like a tortilla tuna salad of sorts!


Well, it did the trick and quickly got Mikey back on the road again.


In case you’re wondering, although views like this comprise most of the day, the paths vary greatly. Ergo, Mikey is including various pictures when the terrain changes just to give you an idea.


And sometimes he includes creepy tunnels and such through which he has to walk!


Well, this one opened up to a great view of a little hamlet on a river. Oh, but that boat on the water…


Talk about your “fixer-upper!”


After another 5km – the last two of which were a steep climb – Mikey was feeling a lot like that boat looked. At long last, he made it into the town of Colombres.


Much like the above Church of Santa Maria,  the town of just over 1,000 is known for its indiano architecture. That is to say, as locals went to sea and traveled to the Americas and beyond, they brought back a style both unique to the New World and backed by its gold. Still, instead of cladding everything in precious metals, they maintained a more austere, yet classy style. 


In the sanctuary, you’ll notice the plain white adobe walls. However, note the crystal chandelier which takes pride of place at the center of the church. As Mikey says, “Flashy, not gaudy – but still not Gaudi!” Get it? (Oy, and now we digress!)


Back on track, the altar is quite simplistic, but still well assembled. In place of gilded wooden columns are marble ones with gold capitals.


The austerity continues in the minimalist exhibition of just three statues. As you may have noticed in earlier (perhaps cluttered) baroque altars, this neoclassical design is starkly clean and conservative in its presentation.


However, high up and just in front of the alter, the dome sports a most impressive fresco. Just like the rest of the interior, most noticeable are the clean lines and lack of clutter. While the actual artistic depiction of the characters harkens back more to medieval design, th composition is in keeping with a New World, indiano style.


That said, let’s take a minute to bring the Camino significance back around. OK, so you see Jesus in the center, correct? Well, look to the far right of the frame. Seem familiar?


This is a close up shot in case you missed it. Notice the scallop shell denoting our friend, Saint James (Santiago). Oh…and is that a wolf next to him?! (That was a joke for Mikey’s mom. Hugs, Mom – no wolves yet😉)


So, we went to the Mexican Bar/Restaurant. Wow – they had Pacifico and Corona beers.


The really funny thing was the chip/salsa part of the pre-dinner. As per Mexican/US standards, a basket of chips and a small dish of salsa is pretty much the norm.


Mikey counted (he’s weird like that) and we had 7 chips stacked up on a bed of flavorless tomato purée. (Shut up- it was free.)


Dinner consisted of the thinnest burrito Mikey had ever seen, a small salad, perhaps a spoonful of weird rice, and 2 chips on a piece of minced avocado. Mikey ordered a margarita and it came out brown and frozen. Yeah.


OK – so why the Mexican restaurant? Why did we explain so much about the meal? Well, scroll back up.  This town was built on indiano money. There is a great deal of the New World here among us. Yeah, it’s mostly funded by the Atlantic trade corporations, but these guys learned a lot through this trade and made themselves better as a result of it.


Buenas Noches. -M

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