By chance, our driving route this summer took us along the route of Camino de Santiago, or the Pilgram’s Way, in northern Spain.
Day 1: We started in Bilbao where we picked up our rental and headed west to Santillana del Mar. As one blogger notes, Santillana del Mar is a town of three lies: it is not holy (santi), flat (llana) or by the sea (del mar)! But it is a medieval jewel that has been preserved with its bright cobbled streets and tanned stone and brick buildings huddling in a muddle of centuries of history.
Day 2: We spent the afternoon in Santander, the capital of Cantabria about 30 mins away from Santillana del Mar. It’s a really pretty seaside town with plenty of hustle and bustle on a Sunday afternoon.
Day 3: We began to really appreciate the Pilgram’s journey when we stopped over in Comillas, a town that became a summer holiday home for the Spanish royalty in the 16th century after men who emigrated to Cuba became very wealthy and powerful, came back to Spain with their fortune and build the town. It’s also where Antoni Gaudi build one of his first house, El Capricho.
Day 3: Our journey continues westward to the coastal town of Gijón in the region of Asturias. What a lively town this is! With one foot in the past and the other in the present, Gijón and its residents have kept plenty of history and culture visible, but it’s also a modern city with many similarities to other prosperous “green Spain” urbanisations.
Day 4: While Gijón is known for its port and modernity, Oviedo is smart, snooty and very image conscious. This neat and compact city is easily navigated on foot.