Tag Archives: Liendo

My Personal A to Z of Spain, L is for Laredo and Liendo

After lunch and a casual stroll around the tiny village of La Aparecida we walked around the hill top church and monastery and then returned to the car and back to the coast where we were heading for the town of Laredo which, with a five kilometre sandy beach, is one of the most important seaside towns in Cantabria, which in the summer is a favourite destination for thousands of Spanish holidaymakers. But this was the last day of April so the atmosphere was laid back and relaxed and we parked the car without any difficulty directly on the sea front and walked over the dunes next to the road and down to the beach.

The clouds were gathering again now and the sky was transforming to chalky white as we walked across the hard sand avoiding the puddles of water down as close as we could get to the water’s edge. The bay was long and wide and we had it practically to ourselves but I expect it gets a whole lot busier and crowded in the summer. At one end was the old town and harbour and at the other were the rows and rows of holiday hotels, which to be honest didn’t look especially thrilling.  As we seen the seaside end of the town, and the weather wasn’t really suitable for the beach anyway, we walked to the other end of the town at the historical centre.

We were looking for somewhere to eat and another of Marta’s recommendations and we followed the road from the Town Hall into the back of the town looking for the bar El Tunel. Marta’s directions were perfect and when we found it we agreed that this was a sitting indoors sort of day so squeezed past the pavement tables and went inside.

The bar was laid out with an assortment of pinchos and we made some choices as the staff tried hard to be helpful with explanations, all in Spanish of course, and it really didn’t matter really what they were because they all looked delicious; and so they were so we had a good selection and a couple of beers and thoroughly enjoyed our late lunch.

When we left the bar we were surprised to find that the sun was out, the clouds were gone and the temperature had more or less doubled. It was shirt sleeve weather now so we took the opportunity to explore the cobbled back streets of the town. Laredo old town was declared a Historic Site in 1970 and is the original town centre dating from the Middle Ages and it still preserves remains of its old original walls.

It consists of a network of small streets and large stately houses from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries and at the highest part of the town the Gothic parish church of Santa María de la Asunción where there had been a wedding earlier but was firmly locked and closed now.

With the sun on full power we thought it would be nice to go back to the Posada and sit in the garden.  It was delightful in the privacy of the private grounds and we drank some wine, played some cards and chatted to a solo traveller from the Netherlands who had just arrived and we just simply enjoyed being in a tranquil environment surrounded by flowers, listening to bird songs and virtually watching the grass grow and a day that began requiring raincoats ended needing sunscreen.

As the sun dipped behind a tree we slipped into the shade we thought we might move the table back into the sun so we took one end each, lifted and selected a new spot and began to lower into position. We lowered and lowered and then lowered a bit more and when we were clearly closer to the ground than we really should be it eventually dawned on us that we only had the table top and not the table legs because the two parts were not attached so we had to return to the original position and hope that no one had seen our little moment of pantomime.

Later we returned to El Roble for a final dinner, choose badly off the menu and had a lamb meal we didn’t enjoy. The owner realised this and although it was our own fault insisted on only charging us half for the meal. We thought that was nice.

After dinner we returned to the village where the festival was in full swing and people in the square were listening and dancing to a group singing Spanish pop songs and we just had to join in.  The local people seemed to like this and invited us to join them in their group dancing routines that seemed straight forward enough in a barn dance jigging sort of way and we spent half an hour or so being a part of the community of Liendo.  It was a good finish to the day and as we returned to the hotel under clear skies we were optimistic about the next day.

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L is for Laredo and Liendo but it could well have been:

Lanzarote

Leon

Lusitania

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My personal A to Z of Spain, K is for Knights Templar and Castro Urdiales

The Knights Templar began to establish themselves in Northern Spain during the twelfth century and various sites were given over to the Knights by King Alfonso IX with the mandate that they protect the pilgrims who were walking the Camino de Santiago.

The Knights Templar became extremely wealthy Medieval bankers who lent large sums to the European monarchies but the secrecy around the powerful medieval Order and the speed with which they disappeared six hundred years ago over a short space of time because their power was so immense and feared by the great Royal Houses, has led to a number of extravagant Knights Templar legends. These range from rumours about their association with the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, to questions about their association with the Freemasons, to heresy and to searches for a lost treasure.

With their military might, influence and extensive financial resources, the Knights Templar funded a large number of building projects around Europe, many of which structures remain standing today.  Not surprisingly this includes several sites in Spain, one of which is the castle of Castro Urdiales in Cantabria.

Castro Urdiales is a busy resort in high summer but when we visited on a day in late April it was unhurried and relaxed with only a few visitors sauntering along the promenade. We had parked at the beach end of the town which meant there was quite a long walk to reach the harbour further to the west and this took us past the yacht club and elegant balconied sea front buildings all overlooking the wide sheltered harbour where a variety of boats were resting on the muddy sea bed at low tide.

We had been up for a long time and it was definitely time for lunch so we roamed along the pavement trying to select a bar that was serving what we were looking for and we were looking for pinchos, or pintxos in Basque. Pinchos are Northern Spain’s equivalent of the tapas, the main difference being that pinchos are usually larger and always ordered and paid for independently from the drinks. They are called pinchos because this is the Spanish word for spike and many of them are held together with a sharp wooden skewer. Another difference is that whilst tapas are served on a small dish, pinchos are generally arranged on bread slices and laid out on the bar was a mouth watering selection of tasty snacks and every one of them an attractive work of art. We made our selections and sat at a table on the pavement as the sun continued to strengthen its grip and the day was getting progressively warmer.

After lunch we continued our stroll to the handsome old town of Castro Urdiales where the Town Hall stands adjacent to the immaculate main square next to what was the original tiny harbour that was sheltering behind its protective stone walls. Around the harbour side women were working under parasols repairing fishing nets and past the fish market at the far end of the harbour a set of weathered stone steps took us up to castle which stands on an elevated rocky outcrop. We made the tour of the restored Knights Templar fortress and then walked around the outside of the impressive medieval parish church, the Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Asuncion, which had the external appearance and dimensions of a much grander cathedral.

The tide was coming in now and as the harbour was beginning to fill with water the boats were lifted into life from the sea bed and all around them the large grey mullet swam around scavenging for scraps of food. It was hot now and there was an attractive bar next to the water’s edge so we sat for a while in the sun and had a beer and a plate of octopus salad, which although rather expensive tasted absolutely divine.

After this pleasant sojourn in the sun we retraced our steps back along the promenade and watched nervously as some heavy black clouds began to roll in from the land and we quickened our pace because we feared we might get wet. We returned to the car just in time because very quickly there were some big spots of rain on the windscreen and in the distance there was a big electrical storm over the mountains.

Motoring west once more on the Autovia del Cantabria the rain stopped and the sun came out again and after a few kilometres we left the motorway for the village of Liendo to find our accommodation. We were staying at the small Posada La Torre de la Quintana, which was a converted stone mansion with an impressive façade and surrounded by carefully manicured gardens. And we were delighted with our choice of accommodation, which was rustic and authentic and we were lucky to have the best suite in the hotel complete with a glass fronted balcony. We sat in the late afternoon sun in the garden with a glass of wine or two and Marta, who ran the place, made some recommendations for sightseeing and for food.

Later we took a suggestion and stayed in the village to eat at a restaurant called El Roble, which didn’t look very promising from the outside but despite this, and a waitress who had forgotten to take her happy pill this morning, the food was excellent and reasonably priced and we instinctively knew that we would be returning again tomorrow. As we ate our meal the heavens opened and the rain poured down and we hoped that this didn’t mean the end of the fine weather.

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K is for Knights Templar but it could well have been:

Kingdom of Castile

Kingdom of Leon

Kingdom of Castilla y Leon

King Juan Carlos

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Cantabria, Liendo and a Festival

So after leaving Castilla y Leon we re-entered Euskadi and then left it just as quickly again as the road sign announced that we were back in Cantabria.  The green valley was picturesque without being dramatic and for a time we could have been in the Yorkshire Dales or the Lincolnshire Wolds until we drove through the town that was busy today with a cattle market and horse auction that was attracting lots of people in from the surrounding countryside.  We didn’t stop but drove through the middle of all the excitement and after a while were back in Euskadi and then after another short while back in Cantabria where we followed directions to Ampuero and then once again to Laredo.

Read the full story…

Cantabria, Lunch, Laredo and Liendo

The clouds were gathering again now and the sky was transforming to chalky white as we walked across the hard sand avoiding the puddles of water down as close as we could get to the water’s edge.  The bay was long and wide and we had it practically to ourselves but I expect it gets a whole lot busier and crowded in the summer.

Read the full story…

Cantabria, Castro Urdiales

Castro Urdiales is a busy resort in high summer but on a day in late April it was unhurried and relaxed with only a few visitors sauntering along the promenade.  We had parked at the beach end of the town which meant there was quite a long walk to reach the harbour further to the west and this took us past the yacht club and elegant balconied sea front buildings all overlooking the wide sheltered harbour where a variety of boats were resting on the muddy sea bed at low tide.

Read the full story…