Saturday, July 19, 2008

Santander with the Chauffeur and the Inspector, Frómista and Santa María de Mave and too expensive Marques de Riscal wine from Rueda

Me with my face just burnt but happy to be in El Sardinero beach with Eladio
Hi again

This last week I was in Santander with Eladio on a site inspection trip for 2 events I am organising there at the beginning of September. One is a huge party for 300 people so the trip, although really pleasurable, was very important.

Eladio came along in his capacity as my husband, of course, but his main mission was to be my chauffeur and co inspector. So I had every one intrigued in Facebook as I kept updating my status with cryptic comments such as “have just come back from the beach with the chauffeur and the inspector”. I certainly had an old boss of mine, now working in China, intrigued.

Santander is one of my favourite cities in Spain, together with that other majestic city on the northern coast, San Sebastian and 2 magical cities in the south, Córdoba and Sevilla. Luckily my job brings me to Santander once a year in September which is the place chosen by the main Spanish telecommunications association to hold the biggest telecoms conference of the year where all the big guns meet and debate the state of the sector, straight after the holiday period and before going back to work. The conference is held in the University grounds in the Magdalena Peninsula which is surrounded by Santander’s beaches and mountains and is simply beautiful.
The Magdalena Palace
The Magdalena Peninsula is in between that most superb Spanish beach, “El Sardinero” and the town centre. I always stay at a hotel in El Sardinero and enjoy the walk to town past the old style grandiose Cantabrian houses and past the other great beaches of La Magdalena, El Camello and El Peligro. The views are breathtaking and I never tire of them; rather photograph them endlessly as if I were packing them up to take home with me, which I can’t.
A lovely angle of the Sardinero beach where you can see the Magdalena Peninsula
Eladio having an evening drink at the Hotel Real; what a marvelous place and location
It was Eladio’s first time in Santander with me and it was also the first time I was going to enjoy the beach right across the road from our hotel, The Silken Rio Santander. I have been going for years and have never really had time to enjoy it. But this time we did and we walked both lengths of the Sardinero beach at least twice a day. We even got sun burnt one afternoon. It didn’t seem that sunny and we were caught unawares and without any sun cream to protect our winter skins.
The Sardinero beach early evening; it looks like a painting by Sorolla
Santander is famous for its gastronomy and certainly rivals the Basque Country. It has some superb restaurants too and my favourites are La Bombi where the cockles and local squid “maganos” are delicious and you are made to feel at home by César, La Posada del Mar where the food is just as good or even better and where Thomás Merendón treats you like family and Zacarias, possibly Santander’s best culinary offer. I also discovered on this trip a well kept culinary secret in Casa de luz which is actually a private English style mansionette turned into a restaurant.
Casa de Luz, a discovery
One of the things we had to inspect was the Pedreña Golf Course of Ballesteros and Emilio Botín fame (owner of the Banco Santander). I know nothing about golf but appreciate beauty and was certainly bowled over by the views from the golf course over the Bay of Santander. We were taken on a trip on buggies and after a coffee in the very elegant golf club I was swept with the desire to learn golf. It didn’t last long though, so don’t’ worry, I won’t. What a place; just look at these photos.
The Pedreña golf course which has fabulous views
Me in the golf buggy at the golf course
On our way to Santander which is 450 km from Madrid, we stopped for lunch at a restored hospital of the Jacobean Way in the historic little town of Frómista in the province of Palencia. Thanks, once again to the Campsa road and restaurant guide we found this jewel, the Restaurante Los Palmeros which I highly recommend if you are ever in that area.
Frómista church
Frog at the fountain in Frómista
Los Palmeros restaurant in Frómista

The fountain in front of Los Palmeros in Frómista

Eladio enjoying his coffee after lunch in Frómista
And on the way back and once again recommended by the Campsa guide we stopped at the Convent Hotel in Santa María de Mave, also in Palencia which is another little jewel on the Jacobean Way.
Santa María de Mave Convent
The gardens at Santa María de Mave
On our way back we also stopped at Rueda, the white wine capital of Castilla. We meant to buy some marvellous Marques de Riscal sauvignon and “verdejo” only to find the winery closed. We ended up buying the verdejo at 7.50 and the sauvignon at 9.50 euros a bottle only to find today that Mercadona, our local supermarket, sells the verdejo for 6.25 euros!! Imagine how stupid I felt!

And now we are home again with the girls and my father enjoying the long Summer days, even if it is a little hot. I think the mercury reached 40º today! You can’t see me but I am writing next to the swimming pool; well now you can as I just took a photo!

Next week will again be quiet workwise; just preparations for September activities really. However next Friday Eladio, my Father and I are going on holiday to Galicia which we are much looking forward to. We will be staying in Paradors in Verin in Orense and on the Portuguese border, in Cambados, the capital of Albariño white wine, one of Spain’s best kept secrets and in Baiona in that wonderful fortress overlooking the Atlantic. From there we will be going to Eladio’s village, Montrondo to spend some time with the family and then back home again.

Cheers for now and enjoy this week coming up


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