Friday, 7 October 2016

Comely Costa Cantabria

Our hunch that the area around San Vicente would really be rather lovely if you had good weather proved correct. Oyambre Caravan Park at €19.00 per night charges the top whack ACSI off-season rate, but its setting is lovely, the facilities modern and well maintained; if we were not amid a minor sterling crisis due Brexit wobbles, then we would be a little more amenable towards regarding the place as good value.

Perhaps the only downside is it is packed full of British caravaners, due probably to it being an easy drive from the Santander ferry. Perhaps the place is part of the Caravan Club camping cheque scheme. It has a whiff of the bungaloid about it, always a sure fire sign. However, you would have to be truly churlish to let the odd sociological prejudice get in the way of enjoying the view from our pitch, inland across rolling pastures to the pale grey peaks of the Picos de Europa. A short, vertiginous bike ride from the back of the site, and you reach the broad sands of Oyambre Plage.

Oyambre Caravan Park: view of Picos (and Brit Volvos)
evening sun

nice situation between the mountains
and good for bike rides by the sea.
Welcome to Pete's anti-Brexit lunch:
French cheese, Spanish bread, British butter and Buxton water!
After a relaxing morning discovering that the site WiFi is so feeble that it won't load photos to the blog, we gave up staring at screens and pedalled off to explore Comillas, about 6km west of here. The road is quiet and cycle-friendly passing some beatiful inlets and wide, deserted beaches. I can see why we decided it was a great place for a bucket and spade holiday with the kids all those years ago. Shame it drizzled the whole time.

Stunning beaches - not everyday is cloudless here
For a small place Comillas boasts some spectacularly monumental buildings. On a hill above the old town sprawls a vast over-ornate palacio, dating by the look of it from the latter part of the nineteenth century. It's somewhat ghastly. Add to this one of the few Gaudi buildings outside Catalonia and another Modernista gem, the 'Seminar Major ' then you have enough sightseeing opportunities to keep even the most ardent guidebook addicted tourist entertained for an entire day.

Comillas' monumental architecture that we never managed to explore

Instead we spent an hour or so exploring the town's small medieval centre, admiring the flower decked balconies, sun drenched squares and sitting in a cafe in the warmth of the late afternoon watching the world go by. 

Cafe chat - with Laura back home...
Italy v Spain we debated, that's surely one of those dichotomy based questions like Arsenal v Chelsea, Hendrix v Clapton or BMW v Audi, the answer to which is meant to reveal some archetypal personality type or deep-seated tribal affiliation. 

Ten years ago, for both of us I suspect, there would have been no competition - 'Italy!' we would have chorused. The more we travel in Spain, the closer the question becomes. Admittedly, in terms of the range and quality of the architecture, the influence of its cuisine and spectacular landscapes, Italy is outstanding, but there is a soulfulness about Spain, something comely and comforting in its genteel street life. Somehow modern Spain has managed to combine the contemporary and the traditional into an alluring melange. So, how can you choose between Italy"s vivacity, style and panache, and Spain's humane endearing warmth. Well you can't, you can only ensure you have time to explore both. Then there's Greece, is there anywhere more beautiful? But that's another question altogether.


No comments:

Post a Comment