Resuming our return to Bilbao airport and checking the satnav, we were either going to be very unfashionably, early or we needed to find another stop somewhere en-route to eat up a couple of hours. The weather was great but we'd already been to one beach that day, and out of the depths of her memory Amanda recollected that Santillana del Mar, just short of Santander, could be worth a visit.
The more she thought, the more she remembered, and mentioned words like; medieval, cave paintings, monasteries, cobbled streets and one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. It was sold to me, we re-tasked the satnav, Santillana del Mar would be our weeks final detour.
She was right.
We quickly found a space in the car park (small charge in July/August/September) by the side of a park, but ignoring the lure of the greenery we headed for the old town that we'd seen in front of us before we turned into the car park.
What a great little town, the camera was working overtime in the glorious sunshine, under the piercing blue sky. It's not enormous, but there is delight at every turn. Gorgeous old buildings, small artisans shops, quaint bars and restaurants.
[mediaplayer src='/sadfish/visitgalicia//wp-content/uploads/2011/08/santillana.wmv' ]
We spent our time wandering the streets, buying speciality chocolate (from the fifty different flavours on offer) and window shopping.
We didn't have time to visit the caves boasting prehistoric cave art, but perhaps that is for next time. Plans are already being made to make Santilla del Mar an overnight stop the next time we do the Bilbao route.
And the verdict on the Manchester-Bilbao option?
It is great at the UK end, forty-five minutes each way to the airport saving fuel and wear and tear on my car. The downside is the flight times and the long-long journey on the Spain side. It's swings and roundabouts with very little to choose in it. I think that it will be a matter of checking flight prices, and whichever is the cheapest route will be the one that we select for that particular trip.