Santillana del Mar
Having crossed France Santillana del Mar was to be our first real stop in Spain during our trip in the autumn of 2007.
It is a very very pretty medieval town and obviously a very popular tourist destination as each day we were there we saw several large coaches .Having said that, a visit in October does mean that it is actually quite quiet. It is famous forthe fact that many of the village houses have crests upon the front wall. Apparently a long time ago in Spain noble families did not pay tax and so the residents in this village all "ennobled " themselves - ie this pretty little town is evidence of an old tax dodge.Just outside town is a famous site for cave paintings and we had intended to visit but the heavens opened and we opted not to bother as we would have got very very wet cycling there. As it happens this was probably a bit of a blessing as we subsequently read that there are only limited numbers allowed into the cave each day. It was highly likely that if we had gone we would not have got in - and that would have been extremely annoying.
Our campsite was just outside town which meant an easy stroll into the centre. At this place there was a resident dog and where he slept there was a little sign inviting people to feed him - we never found out whether he just turned up or had been forgotten by some previous campers. People were feeding him, including us and he seemed ok but it was a sad site to see a lonely dog. We also made the mistake of feeding the resident cat and as a result he stayed near our van for most of our stay and to such an extent that people thought he was ours. There were a lot of Brits at this site, it is very convenient for the Santander ferry and we met parties on their way home as well as travelling south like us. It was here we met the Oddles for the first time, we saw them at at least two places over the coming weeks.
Our plan had been to move on to Picos de Europa after leaving Santillana but the weather was foul and looked as if it was going to stay that way so we opted instead to move on to our next planned destination Santiago de Compostella, breaking the journey with an overnight stop. We found a site in the Caravan Club site guide and aimed for this but found it closed and so late in the afternoon we moved on to try and find another site for the night. We ended up at a place called Foz, the site was a dump, deserted unkempt with a rather seedy feel to it. However it was late in the day for moving on any further so we stopped overnight and for this privilege we paid 17 euro which was robbery frankly. When we got to Santiago and met the Oddles ( having met them in Santillana) we established that what we should have done was turn back and stay at a place called Luarca which apparently is a very pretty town and the camp site was very nice too - we will know for next time.