Friday, July 20, 2012

Northern Spain Day One - Cycle Tour 2012

Yassi Photos Spain

I booked my biking tour with Iron Donkey and traveled with Iberocycle - a cycling company outsourced by Iron Donkey. Both cycling companies were very helpful with my last minute booking, excellent communication during pre-trip preparation, and exceeded all my expectations during the 7 day guided cycling tour -- new high-end rental bikes, nightly meetings with detailed information about the next days bike ride, history and points of interest about the area we were biking and suggested restaurants to try along the ride.

Transfer to Santillana

Sunday, July 1, 2012 pick-up at Hotel Nervión scheduled at 12:20 and they were right on time. Lucky I was too. We had 6 passengers and the driver, Simon Proffitt. Simon is the own and tour guide for Iberocycle. During our one hour drive from Bilbao to Santillana del Mar, we got to know each other and talk about the tour and our cycling adventures.

Shimano SH-XC50N Mountain Bike Shoe For Men - Black In Size: 42

Above photo is a view of our hotel, Hotel Colegiata, located about 300 meters from the center of Santillana del Mar.

Transfer to Santillana

It's about a ten minute walk from the Hotel Colegiata to the center of Santillana del Mar.

A short bike ride from the center of town are the Altamira Caves (Cuevas de Altamira), discovered around 1880 and known for their upper paleolithic cave paintings. I didn't venture out to see the caves, but it was offered as an option to us.

Transfer to Santillana

We arrived at Santillana shortly after 1:30, checked in to our hotel and had the afternoon off to wonder around town and sightsee. Mid to late afternoon is siesta for shops and businesses where everything shuts down from 2pm until 5pm and later in the day is siesta for bars and restaurants. They close from about 4pm until about 8pm.

Transfer to Santillana
Churros con chocolate at Restaurante El Pradon for an afternoon treat. Your typical Spanish bar located across the main highway on Plaza del Rey, 3, 39330 Santillana del Mar, Spain.

Transfer to Santillana

Cobblestone streets of Santillana del Mar. Tourist were out shopping at 8pm on Sunday evening.

I would not recommend high or wedge heels on this trip. I brought my IndoSole flip flops and my trainers for walking around the different towns on their uneven streets.

Transfer to Santillana

A festival on Sunday night?

Cannons firing every 30 minutes and locals dressed in costumes filled the main square in Santillana. At first I thought it was a big party for the Spain vs Italy football game for Euro 2012, but it seemed a little more 'devil' like festival than 'football' like. I took this picture as we were walking to our dinner at The Villa.


On the Iron Donkey / Iberocycle tour, we had a crew of 15 cyclist from North America and Europe.  Here we are walking into town for dinner. It was a beautiful summer night in Spain.

Transfer to Santillana

Our first group dinner was at a lovely restaurant called La Villa on Calle de Jesus Otero, Santillana del Mar, Spain. We had a lager table on the second floor of the restaurant with, I believe, a prix fixe menu. If it wasn't prix fixe, then I think we had a 'menu del dia'. I enjoyed the options and it kept the guess work to a minimum. Wine included! 

Santillana del mar

Not as crazy as I imagined it would be, watching Spain vs Italy in Spain was uneventful and mellow. We found an almost empty bar after dinner and watched the Spanish crush Italy.

Giro Skyla Women's Bike Helmet - White


More of our crew from the biking tour watching the 2012 Euro soccer match.

Santillana del Mar, Spain

Walking back from the bar, we experienced the wildlife of Santillana del Mar.

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