Best of Spain

Day 5 – September 7, 2004 – Madrid to Burgos to Santander

Our wake up call was at 6 AM but we were up at 5:45. We went down to breakfast at 7 AM but they were not open or ready for us. The wait staff had a mad scramble to keep up with all of these American coffee drinkers.

The whole group was ready on time and Francisco had all of the bags packed under the bus so we could leave at 8 AM. We have at least six extra seats as the group from Florida canceled due to tropical storm Frances. Gennie and I have volunteered to take the back seats on the bus for the whole trip.

Ellen gave us demographic information on the way out of town. We are traveling along M-30, a ring road around the city. We passed through a light industrial area and joined 5-N to go to the city of Burgos.

There is a lot of agriculture, grain, cattle, corn, sunflower, and grapes. It has only been since Franco died in 1975 and the European Union that major highways have been built. Only now are people in the country getting telephone and electric service.

Our guide took time to explain our choices of optional dinners and tours and we decided to sign up for all of then and take advantage of the wonders of Spain.

We traveled over the Guadarrama Mountains to El Cid's city of Burgos, to see the gothic Burgos Cathedral. Ellen took us directly to the tomb of El Cid and his wife who are buried there. El Cid was a famous mercenary who fought and died for Spain.

After seeing the tomb we were on our own to explore the rest of the cathedral and then this old walled city. We also were able to get a bite to eat as dinner will be at 8:30 in our hotel.

We were back on the bus at 1:00 and continued north out of town again to Santander. At 3:00 we were still 40 K from the hotel so we made a restroom stop. These always take 30 minutes as there are so many of us!

Next, we drove close to the Ebro River and over the Cantabrian Cordillera to the coast and ''sophisticated'' Santander. Almost to the coast, we saw much more green vegetation, dairy farms, and finally, close to the city, heavy industry - this is mostly located in the Northern part of the country.

Most of the buildings are typical brick and whitewashed stone with classic red tiled roofs. There are many areas of new construction all over Spain and Ellen told us the crane rental business is booming! Again, since 1975 when Franco died, there have been fundamental changes to all aspects of the country.

Once we checked into the Hotel Santemar we decided to go for a walk. We walked to the beach overlooking the Bay of Biscay and took pictures of people eating ice cream, playing, talking, and even two young women from Manaus, Brasil. It was great to get some sea air and just walk around in the cool breeze.

We returned to our room at 6:15, worked on the pictures - not as many today - began to work on this journal and showered to get ready for dinner here at the hotel. We will have to meet Ellen at the bar to finalize our optional billing. Then dinner at 8:30 PM.


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