Santillana del Mar to Galizano

I thought that we should leave Santillana by going down through the village,  the GPS had other ideas. For once the GPS was actually taking us along the Camino route, so we were  ok with it. We looped under and over the main road, unable to join because of the way the junctions worked. Eventually joining it by a roundabout. We were now on the route that the Spanish guy had tried to get us to follow. There was an incredible amount of places to stay along here, mainly Posadas. We eventually found coffee at a place called Oruña. A busy bar full of game machines and TVs. There was also an albergue here as well, funny that again there is no mention of this place in the book.

Not much further on is Barreda. We had intended to walk to Requejada less than 2k further on, but there was a big station here so we decided to get the train from here. The walk from Requejada to Santander is boring and mostly industrial and as we have done this twice before I thought we would take the train. It cost us 5.4euro for basically a days walking, so why not?

While we were at the station we did see a pilgrim get off the train from Santander. Not really the done thing if you are going for a Compostella. While we were on the train the rain came in and it was hammering down by the time we got to Santander. I had blown any chance of using the albergue in town and again the tourist information was useless. So we wandered around with the map, by the third complet we were ready to give up. Some guy helped us and took us to another pension, trouble was, that too was complet.

In the rain we took the ferry to Somo. There we stopped for an egg bacon and cheese butty. We may have left puddles everywhere but that butty was great. There were a few places in Somo but the prices were just too high for us so we moved on. We followed the road for a while, then headed towards the coast, following signs for a camp site, but the campsite had no chalets and we moved on. We got a bit lost here, neither on the coastal path or the main road. Fortunately this was not a long day so I was not too bothered.

Viv would not go to the albergue at Guemes so we stopped again at Galizano. The room did not seem as bad as last time, whether that was because our expectations were lower or it was just a better room, I don’t know. Unusually the price here had not gone up with the season but we still had no shower curtain.

We sat in La Biela 43 drinking beers and watching the formula one quali  but not food until ocho again. The burger La Biela was a meal in itself but I would have enjoyed it more if I had it earlier.

There had been an article in the papers about a woman complaining about too many Spaniards in Benidorm. By the time we had our burgers I knew exactly how she felt, the place was full of children running around and their noisy parents. It is as well we go to bed early when we are walking, but we could still hear them from our room.

 

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Comillas to Santillana del Mar

No breakfast this morning, but we followed the road down to the coast, where we joined the main road. There is a barrier here to stop you crossing the road and the camino is off to the right somewhere. I am pretty sure that the road is easier and shorter so not too bothered. There was no sign of coffee at Cobreces but at a shop where there were tables and chairs outside they told us no coffee. We took the lower road this time and missed Cobreces altogether.

Still no coffee until we reached the split at Oreña, we walked through to the bar where we had stopped twice. We met up with a father and daughter from London who were heading for Oviedo. We advised them to follow the road from Colloto to Oviedo, as the arrows will lead them astray. I forgot to mention about the lovely route from Comillas to San Vicente though.

As we were returning we found the correct route out of Santillana this time. Now going in, it looked much more obvious, strange, as it is usually easier to follow the arrows in the right direction. We passed a few places to stop on the way in but thought we would stick to what we know, if it is available. It was, but now much fuller we ended up on the third floor without a balcony.

We sat for a while in the main square where a lady was playing a harp. I think she was something to do with the Parador and the only place we could sit was on the diagonal opposite corner. We could listen well enough, but I am not sure that our applause reached her. Later we sat at the bar in front of the Cathedral. There is a junk shop opposite and they had a dog. There is a hole in the wall so that the dog could still run into the square whenever he wanted. He had a bell on his neck and every time someone came with a dog he would run out jangling. Sometimes he was greeted by the visiting dogs and sometimes they would see him off. The fact that he was so small and always came off worse did not deter him, he just kept coming.

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San Vicente to Comillas

The bar by the launderette was advertising breakfast, and so we had another good start. It seems to be, the shorter the day, the better the start. We have had so many long days where we have had nothing  for hours and then we have days like this sub 20k and a breakfast before we leave.

The way out was obvious, we just had to cross that lovely bridge. On the other side however was a roundabout and I could not remember how we had approached it. My GPS was telling me to go to the right, and I suspect that this was the way we had come. However we saw pilgrims coming from a more straight on direction. A look in my book now confirms I was right, however we chose to follow the pilgrims.

This road was the CN236 a lovely coastal road  favoured by many. There were a large number of sites with vans parked and the occupants out surfing, the early morning chill not putting them off. We were passed by innumerable pilgrims all curious as to why we were going the wrong way.

Eventually we came down to a beach that had a beach café but we had trouble finding our way in. There was a decking area to sit and the entrance was opposite with a serve yourself bar. The problem was that there was a delivery van parked in between and we could not see the decking area. Eventually some one showed us and as it all became clear the van left as well.

The road carried on along the coast and we came upon a loop in the road. We sat on a bench with a view of the salt flats where there was an inlet. This area had been formally covered in trees but European money was being spent in restoring it to its wilderness status. We sat and ate some bread we had and nuts marvelling at how our money was being spent.

As we came into Comillas we arrived the same way we had left, but could see no sign of the route we had taken last time. Still we found the tourist information easily. They are still useless, being the busy time now it would be so much easier for them to phone around for us. Instead we got a map and “sorry but we are not allowed to recommend anywhere”. We tried three places including where we stayed first time but all where complet.

We decided to head for Esmarelda even though it would be expensive, but then we tried the pension opposite. It turned out, not only to be cheaper, but better in every way, even having a line outside the window for our washing.

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La Franca to San Vicente

We left the campsite and to my surprise the reception was already manned. I had left the key to my non working door the night before thinking that it would delay me in the morning.

A few other pilgrims followed us up the hill and also back along the main road. I felt I should tell them that there was no need to go back, as the camino path only joined the road a little further along, but Viv told me not to interfere. As we passed the turn off we lost sight of our companions and crossed over the road to the truckstop. We knew, of course, that this was here, so we had no need to worry about breakfast this morning.

As we got near to the main road there were pilgrims coming the other way, so we had no trouble finding the footpath. The dirt track into Columbres we missed altogether and as we entered Columbres itself we elected this time to take the high footpath and miss the road. It was early and we were expecting an easy day. The path was as I remember it from two years ago, well maintained cut stone paving, but boring.

When we crossed the bridge into Unquera they were setting up for market day.  We sat and ate a palmera watching them work and I was tempted to stay here again. For some reason Viv was not so keen, so we moved on.

I struggled finding the route out, even though we had done this twice, it was not obvious. After a while walking along the road we saw pilgrims on the path, about 400 yards to our right, and over a river and railway. We were always going to find it difficult to follow the camino backwards but we knew by the road signs we were headed in the right direction. I suspect it was also shorter and easier this way, if a little less scenic.

At a big roundabout we saw signs that we were, in fact, a lot closer to our destination than we should have been, according to the guide book. (In fact this day we covered 18k, the guidebook distance was just over 21k). The other side of the roundabout was a big café, truckstop, shop. So we stopped for a coffee and pastry. The girl served me my coffee and turned away, when we had finished I had real difficulties getting her to tell me how much and take my money. Meanwhile Viv was busy enjoying the shop, funny the things that they sell out on the road, toys, paints, make up, as various food stuffs.

As we started to descend into San Vicente we stopped in a layby for a drink and a blow. A French motorcyclist passed through on a Triumph. Five minutes later he passed through again in the opposite direction. Then after another five minutes he came again and stopped. He parked his bike and wandered off into the bushes with his phone glued to his ear. We think he possibly wanted a comfort break, but we were surprised that a French man would be this coy. After a few minutes he re-emerged and rode off.

The tourist information in San Vicente was, for the first time, very useful. They gave us a map and marked on a launderette and directed us to a great pension.

We found a bar that sold a caña for only 1euro and also had cheap food (though again not until ocho). As we were here early we had a good look around, but as my phone is dead I could get no new pictures. A reconstructed ship The Nao Victoria arrived and we had a good look from the harbour wall, but, as is our way, we could not go aboard. I would not open until tomorrow, when we would be away.

The bridge at San Vicente

 

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Llanes to La Franca

We found our way out of Llanes quite easily, the advantage of previous knowledge. Then on to Cue, and passed the bar where I was short changed. It was all going too well then, we missed Andrin completely, we skirted around it and ended up on the N263 again. We soon arrived at the campsite at Puertas and realised I had again missed the Bufones. I am destined never to see this amazing natural feature. We stopped here for a coffee and asked about rates for bringing the motorhome here. 35euros a night, at that rate it is cheaper to use the car, use less fuel and stay in a hotel.

Soon we passed the nice albergue we intended to stop at, but missing the Bufones meant we were early so we carried on. It was just road bashing from here until Pendueles where we turned off the road through the village. We stopped for another coffee then we passed a shop and there was an area for ball games with seating at the end. We bought some bread and drinks and sat with our empanadas and had a relaxing lunch.

As we left Viv realised she had left her sticks. They were not where she had left them and she panicked, she need not have worried however someone had put them safe inside the shop. We left Pendueles on the G8 route and passed the bar where we had stopped with Henry two years ago. Following the arrows backward we ended up back on the N263 again. We met more youngsters at Buena worried they were not going the right way but we assured them that they were ok.

On the way into La Franca we found Camping La Franca. The camino route goes off the road here so we missed this both times. This time we missed the camino route because we were going backwards.

For 30euro we got an un-serviced shed, use of the amenities and best of all the pool.

The food was good at the bar, but there were no shops apart from the camp shop. We walked down to the beach where there were more bars. It was lovely here until it started raining again and we had to rush back to get our boots and clothes under cover. The door lock did not work on our shed, not that I was worried about security but sometimes I would come back and the door had swung open.

The campsite was like a transit site when we arrived, they seem to have no rules about where you can pitch up. On our second day it was a little better, I think many had gone home after the weekend.

 

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Ribadesella to Llanes

The girl in the hotel had told us it would rain again today, so we left fully suited up. We were glad to leave that airless room, no window, no ventilation and on the fourth floor without a lift. To say this was not our best room is an understatement.

We had to backtrack to get up the hill and then back onto the old N263. We followed it all the way to Nueva where we finally got a coffee. The centre of town was cut off for the monthly market. It was interesting to browse the stalls but we would be buying nothing, we simply need no more weight.

It was more road until Playa San Antolin where we left the road passed under the railway and had a coffee and rest at the beach café. When we got to the monastery we finally found some camino track, but it was steep climb followed by steep descent. This cut some off the road, but I am not sure how much, with the zig zag in the path it does not look like much. Again as we walked up the hill we were met by many who were worried that they, not us, were going the wrong way.

Another 3k and we passed Iglasia Nuestra Señora de los Delores, lots of people on pedalo’s and canoes here so we stopped for an iced coke and another rest before the final push of the day.

We arrived in Llanes to find it packed out. Our favourite Pesion Guia was full the next pension also said “Si no hay reserve, estamos complet” so we back tracked to a place we saw on the way in. It was a one star hotel and the woman on reception appeared out of her hole like a conga eel every time we passed. To be fair it was nice and clean good bathroom, but only very high level windows that we could not see out of. Better than the last place I suppose though.

There was a big Ferria Magdelena happening hence all the crowds. We found a lavenedria but there was a queue that was too long so we will wait until morning. Viv wanted choc and churros so we went into the place the other side of the bridge. I thought they were a bit expensive so we elected to have two chocs and one portion of churros. It was enough, as was the price. At a table next to us sat an elderly woman with a younger woman. I do not know what their relationship was, but the younger woman never looked up from her phone all the time we were there and the older woman just looked out of the window. It looked a very sad situation to me.

The launderette in the morning was still crowded, but after a long wait we got our washing in and retired for breakfast around the corner. We got talking to an Irish lady who was here with her family. They had been following more or less our route, except in a car. After this I tried to find somewhere to watch the Grand Prix but failed, so we went for a siesta. When we came out the end of the race was showing in the bar below us.

We went looking for the swimming pool, but this being Spain it was shut for the holiday. Across the road we bumped into the Irish lady again with her family. We sat on the beach for a couple of hours but we soon got bored with this, inactivity becomes difficult after so long walking. I bought an Ice cream from the van here, just amazed to find it finally open.

Due to the Ferria there was not a supermarket open, the only shops were selling expensive artisanal foods and tat. We still had Boca La Plaza though, food all day and cheap. We bought some empanadas and muffins for the morning as we were not expecting to find any stops early on tomorrow.

 

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Colunga to Ribadesella.

We found a coffee stop straight away unusually but the guy was not happy as I unloaded all my change on him. Serves him right charging 3.60euro, this is what you get in resort towns, I suppose. We followed the N632 out of town and with no signs where the camino was we followed the road until we came to Caravia. There was some sort of festival here and there were hundreds of campervans, not the weather for camper vanning by the beach, but it was starting to brighten.

The road from here was decorated with park benches in primary colours made of plastic. Handy for us to sit on and being plastic did not retain too much wet.

We re-joined the camino at Berbes, straight into a sea of mud. As we got to the outskirts of Ribadesella we passed to the front and washed our boots in the sea. Viv managed to get a boot full of sea water though, my fault, of course. A short day and we were early so we stopped here for an ice cream.

The only room in town was at Hostal Covadonga. Grotty room, separate bathroom last they had. The taps in the room did not work there was not a single hook and no hangers in the wardrobe. They still charged 50euro though. The day was only saved by Viv’s elastic clothes line.

We managed to find a laundrette and supermarket, but could not find our cold coffees for the morning. We ate at the bar we used last time La Villa, sandwich La Villa, was 5euros each monstrous thing with burger eggs and bacon,  certainly filled the gap.

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