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Old September 6th, 2011, 11:00 PM   #1
Giri
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Giri's 2011 road trip aka "Giri en España" / Day 2 : from Santander (Cantabria) to Gijón (Asturias)

Don't forget to have a look at Day 1 which explains how come I reached Santander for those who might have believed I possessed surnatural powers which allowed me to teleport.

Day 2 is mostly about me following the Ocean from Santander to Gijón : two "comunidades" with striking common points yet the feeling that one enters another distinct world when in Asturias.

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This is the view I had from the hotel room as you may remember from Day 1.

One has to admit I had been blessed since the beginning of the trip : Northern Spain is known for its bad and irregular oceanic weather, and yet the sky is blue for another day in Cantabria.

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Next time I visit a country, I'll try to get informed about the cities I'm touring. I knew Santander was the Biarritz of Northern Spain but I was not that surprised to visit a rather common town yesterday in the evening.

A fact is that Santander's Biarritz-like part was just behind that hill on which the town is situated. That's "El Sardinero". I only realized this fact this very morning when leaving the town.

And just like in Biarritz, impossible to park.

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"Avenida de la Reina Victoria" : a British touch.

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Since parking the car was not possible, the best idea was to leave the town and capture the Ocean somewhere not far from Santander when going west. Still, Santander is a very large city, for French standards at least.

Leaving the town is thus pretty long but it allows us to have a look at "ordinary" Spanish architecture which is quite pleasant to my eyes. We're far from the lack of design of modern French buildings : Spain succeeds in being respectful to vernacular tradition while being innovative.

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Eventually, we reach the A67 highway that leads to Europe's far end. We'll stop way before that.
The landscape gets back to being very pretty with yet again beautiful green mountains in an azurean sky.


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Once Santander definitely in our back, it was time to have a look at the Ocean. Highways are like level selects in video games, you choose one of them. Let's leave the highway in Mogro then !

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Mogro is a typical coastal Cantabrian town with its triangle-shaped Neo-Cantabrian houses.

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First glimpse at the coast :

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We'll stop in Cuchía, on the right bank of the Pas river.

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On the left bank of the river estuary is Suanses : it cannot be reached from Cuchía.

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The beach in Cuchía with Suanses in the background :

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The coast is rather dramatic : "la Playa de los Caballeros"

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Cuchía : white, red and ochre for human creations, green for God's.

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Time to go west again in order to get to Asturias in the evening. We'll have to bypass the town of Torrelavega. The landscape gets industrial near Requejada.

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As Torrelavega is avoided, the landscape is back to its old antics. These days, there is a trend to make Northern Spanish lands some sort of Celtic entities. It looks like green mountains are sufficient for an area to be labelled as "Celtic". Here is the chore of Castilian culture on a probable ancient proto-Basque substrate : we could not be farther from the Celtic fringes in the North.

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Eventually we reach Santillana del Mar about which people say it is a triple lie : it is neitheir "saintful" ("santa"), nor flat ("llana") nor does it possess sea ("mar"). Here are the caves of Altamira : Cantabria was one of the few populated areas of Europe in the Upper Paleolithic. Ancestors of yours might have been inhabited the area millenia ago !

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Many nice things have been said about Santillana. Indeed it's nice but I fear that the crowd wasted my pleasure.

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The crowd !

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Vernacular Cantabrian architecture is so similar to what we name "Basque" architecture :

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Plaza de las Arenas :

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Guess ? Yep, that's "Plaza Mayor" !

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Sandwich time ! Looking for a cool place to eat them. The Ocean appears once more in Oreña.

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And that's when we got lost, while searching for a place where to stop. I had said that not seeing the Ocean anymore was not a great idea !

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Here it is !

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Eventually that's where we stopped : "Playa de Luaña".

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Maybe we should think of rallying Asturias ... The montains in the background get higher and wilder.

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The Port in Comillas : no time to visit.

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San Vicente de la Barquera (great choice of hagiotoponym) is the last Cantabrian town before entering Asturias.

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It seems to be a pretty town but I just have the time to cross it. The atmosphere is changing. We are leaving Cantabria, its green and modest mounts, its vast horizon. Now that's getting mountainous. Like if the whole Pyrenees were falling into the sea. That's Asturias.

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The highway is never far from the Ocean ...

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... nor from the Picos de Europa.

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Eventually we reach Gijón, Asturias' main town and port.

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Next : we'll visit the town. Burger King still is present in Spain ! That was this trip's revelation. But before that I have to go and see what my hotel looks like tonight.

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Old September 6th, 2011, 11:04 PM   #2
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Stunning photos, thanx for posting them!
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Old September 6th, 2011, 11:05 PM   #3
Bristol Mike
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Fantastic shots - it's wonderful how green this part of Spain. As beautiful as Spain is, it doesn't half brown out as the summer goes on which is a shame. I was walking in the Picos de Europa in 2008 but the weather wasn't great - even in late June.
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Old September 7th, 2011, 03:46 AM   #4
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Very nice, loved the tour. Should we expect more?

Absolutely profesional those pics, stunning
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Old September 10th, 2011, 04:51 AM   #5
CARABAZA
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Great pics giri!!! next time you should plan a visit to Torrelavega, Comillas and San Vicente de la Barquera!!! you will enjoy!

I don't understand this sentence... "Day 2 is mostly about me following the Ocean from Santander to Gijón : two "comunidades" with striking common points yet the feeling that one enters another distinct world when in Asturias."

another distinct world? why?
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Old September 10th, 2011, 07:43 AM   #6
StoneRose
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Great thread and pics.
Makes me want to go on a roadtrip myself.
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Old September 10th, 2011, 03:36 PM   #7
Giri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CARABAZA View Post
another distinct world? why?
Just me loving stupid and emphatic sentences.

More seriously, I just wanted to state that despite being very similar, I somehow noticed subtle differences between Cantabria and Asturias as far as landcapes and architecture are concerned, though modest indeed. In a word : Spain is diverse ! That amazed me : for instance, the entrance into Asturias after San Vicente is rather dramatic, you suddenly enter the high mountains you could see in the distance for the whole trip, the atmosphere is a bit distinct, though nothing that striking I must admit.
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Old September 10th, 2011, 05:35 PM   #8
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I know what you mean. You should check the change going south from that coast, just a bit more than one hour and the landscape turns flat, dry and cultivated. Also, following the coast there's a strange point in western Asturias where all the roofs start being made of slate instead of tiles of clay (and that goes on in NE Galicia until, suddenly, clay roof tiles become dominant again close to La Coruña); it's weird.

Btw, let me remark that while Santander is in fact a sort of Biarritz, the title of Spain's Biarritz should definitely go to San Sebastián.

I love these detailed threads, thank you for them!
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Old September 10th, 2011, 06:58 PM   #9
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Great thread, and beautiful photos...very nice photo tour....thanks for sharing.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 08:34 PM   #10
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Nice pictures as always!

You may have noticed the high number of palm trees in those places with oceanic climate such as Cantabria and Asturias. That's due to some emigrants, called indianos, who went to Latin America and then returned with a lot of money. They used to build new houses in a sort of colonial style including palm trees, which came into fashion in those regions.
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Old September 14th, 2011, 08:58 PM   #11
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beautiful photos. i love roadtrips

Last edited by willo; September 14th, 2011 at 09:15 PM.
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Old November 12th, 2011, 02:34 PM   #12
Giri
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I haven't uploaded this thread for two months ... And I still have 4 days of pics to classify ... Plus my trip to Picardy ... I'll never see the end. So Gijón. I don't have much to say about it, 2 hours are not enough to properly get a town' atmosphere but I quite liked it.

Spanish towns are a mix of neo-gothic exuberance and utilitarian buildings. They lack the mushy appearance of mot French towns and that's great. We'll begin the tour in the port district.

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A pretty lame and easy contrast, I know ...

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We eventually reach the historic centre-town : Cimadevilla.

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Plaza del Marqués :

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Time to ascend the stairs : the name "Cimadevilla" quite describes the area.

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The town and the bay as seen from the fort of El Cerro :

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In the West, the port :

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Back to the bay and the resort town :

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The bay is what Spaniard would have made of Saint-Jean-de-Luz : the setting is quite similar but Spanish people do know how to make it "grand" when the French resort to their tidy antics.

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The weather went so so : the maritime was cold.

Plaza del Instituto :

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Time to eat ! Burger King still is in Spain but eventually, platos combinados ... Next (that means in 3 months' time) : we'll leave the coast to reach Leon and Burgos.
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Old November 14th, 2011, 04:53 PM   #13
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Fantastic series, thanks for sharing.
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Old November 14th, 2011, 07:41 PM   #14
christos-greece
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Lovely, very nice shots from these cities
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