24.11.22 — Travel
During the last few weeks I’ve been at home, but as usual it’s been pretty busy. I’m very rarely still for long, though, and so just the other day I found myself waking up at 6am in order to head off to Santander with a couple of my colleagues.
Our trip up to the coastal city in the north of Spain wasn’t just a leisure exercise, however – we were on official work business. This meant a very early morning for the three of us as we all convened in Madrid Chamartín-Clara Campoamor train station (yeah, that’s really its name). There, we’d to navigate the construction works that have half the platforms closed, but we eventually found our train and got sat down.
Just over four hours later we arrived in the city to a pleasant surprise of a clear and sunny day. The north of Spain isn’t famed for its good weather, so I’d blindly trusted Google Weather and left my sunglasses at home.
My first impressions of Santander was that it was a very pretty and quite small. I say small in a very positive sense, it felt very homely and accessible when compared to Madrid or New York. There was some great architecture to be seen and plenty of open space. There was also – of course – the sea, which makes any place feel cheerier.
Having endured the journey without eating we were somewhat ravenous, so we headed to a market for a bite to eat. We grabbed some pinchos, small bits of food usually served on or with a slice of fresh bread. These went down a treat with a fresh drink to revive us ready for a day exploring Santander.
From there, we headed back to the seafront and began our investigations. We’d been sent to soak up the context and get a bit of a feel for the city’s atmosphere, so we passed by the tourist office where we were set a quick route to see the city’s highlights.
We first stopped at the Centro Botín, an awesome art centre perched on the quayside which overlooks and even hangs over the water below. We had a snoop around the awesome architecture by Renzo Piano, ending up on the rooftop for an impromptu brainstorming session for the project we’d been sent to work on.
With the wind beginning to pick up we headed down from the roof, stopping for a bit of silliness along the way. The gorgeous cantilevered design of the Centro Botín included some suspended viewing platforms over the water of the estuary, so me and Julia simply had to recreate an iconic film moment. Cue the Celine Dion!
Back on solid ground, we headed further along the seafront and past Puerto Chico, a place true to its name which can be translated as “Little Port”. We then wound up passing the Palacio de Festivales, a concert hall with very strange architecture. We ended our wander by holding a meeting about our project perched on the wall of one of the docks and looking over the sea. It was the world’s best meeting room!
It was already turning half past three when we finally moved from our spot and we were ready and rearing for some lunch. Following the tourism office’s recommendation, we grabbed a bus down to the Barrio Pesquero or Fisherman’s District. We had an absolutely diving late lunch there, with a starter of rich seafood soup followed by a huge plate of a local fish called a machote. It was all fresh and perfectly garlicky. Divine!
Now full and rather tired, we ambled back towards the city centre, stopping off to take in the views over the sea and then head inside the Centro Cívico Tabacalera. This civic centre is home to Europe’s biggest vertical garden, so we took some photos and snooped around an art exhibit.
Now back in the centre, we made one last stop to grab some sweet treats for the rest of our colleagues. Seeing as we had some more time to spare, we grabbed a quick drink from a bar next to the train station. After a rather delicious vermouth, the three of us headed into Santander train station and hopped about our return journey back home.
I arrived back at my flat way after midnight, so it had been a very long and very tiring day. It was all worth it, though, and I had an absolutely lovely time with my colleagues Julia and Clara. I’ll have to return to Cantabria, the area that Santander sits in, very soon. Then I can have a further snoop around the lovely city of Santander and try some more awesome fresh seafood!