Tag Archives: Comillas

Comillas & Bilbao

For the final few days of our trip we decided to stay at a campsite at Comillas about 30 kilometres west of Santander on Spain’s northern coast..  On arrival we found that the site we’d chosen wouldn’t open for another few days, so we spent the night wild-camping on the sea front in Comillas.  Lovely beach and the port still has plenty of old-world charm despite having a large number of what we presumed to be holiday apartments.  In the height of the holiday season I imagine the place must get packed.  Denise nearly got the swim she’d been pining for but the tide and undertow was a little too strong.  We ended up spending three nights on a very nice campsite about five kilometers away which fortunately had a pool. The 120 kilometre drive from Comillas to Bilbao is fairly uninteresting, though we noticed, not for the first time, that the woods and hillsides are heavily dominated by eucalyptus trees which were originally planted for the local pulping industry but have spread and obviously thrive in the warm and damp climate of the northern coast. The fact that they are now out of control is increasingly being recognised by the Spanish authorities for the threat they pose to native species and the increased fire risk.  An obvious and worrying example of the law of unintended consequencess.

We stayed our last night in a camperstop high on a hill above Bilbao with superb views of the city.  We started our 2019 trip to Portugal there but this time it was virtually full and we were fortunate to get a slot.  In the afternoon we took the local bus down into the old part of the city to have a wander and enjoy an icecream while sitting on the embankment and watching the world go by.The ferry port is only about 20 kilometres from the camperstop but we left in plenty of time and were among the first in the queue for the ferry. – which inevitably meant that we were among the last to board!  The one consolation was that I had a nice conversation with the owner of this beautiful Aston Martin DB3S.  It looked to me to be in fabulous condition but he was taking it back to UK for a complete, year-long, rebuild – I suppose you can afford to do that when your car is worth £5-6 million………

Gaudi and the Whale

On Tuesday we got an email from Brittany Ferries explaining that due to mechanical problems with the ferry our return destination had been changed to Plymouth instead of Portsmouth.  This turned out to be a bit of a mixed blessing as, given that we’d already just about done everything and been everywhere that we’d planned, it gave us the opportunity to bring forward our return by a few days. So, unexpectedly we found ourselves on the last couple of days of our holiday.

Leaving the Picos we headed north towards the narrow coastal plain and the small town of Comillas which boasts the ‘Capricho’, one of the few houses outside Catalonia to have been designed by Antoni Gaudi, some of whose work we’d seen when visiting Barcelona a number of years ago.  We spent a pleasant hour or so wandering around the villa which, as well as being architecturally unique (and not a bit whacky), contains some beautifully made art nouveau furniture – fantastic to look at, but wholly impractical to live with.
We stayed that night at a camperstop just to the south of Santander near Cabárceno on the edge of the Nature Park, which turned out to be a large naturalised space reclaimed from a former open cast mine.   According to the website:  “The natural park is home to a hundred animal species from five continents living in semi-free conditions, which are distributed in large enclosures where one or more species coexist.   Except for food provided to them, the rest of the animal’s activities are marked by their almost total freedom. Almost all of them trigger fights and mating season struggles for control of females.”   Sounds just like parts of the Cotswolds!

On Thursday morning the weather had improved a little, which made for a pleasant and fairly simple two-hour drive along the coast to Bilbao’s port from where we’d started our holiday some four weeks earlier.  This time we’d been given a four birth cabin which meant that Denise didn’t have to sleep on the upper bunk with her nose pressed against the ceiling.  Once again the Bay of Biscay was almost a flat calm and to her immense excitement, and making a perfect end to the holiday, Denise was convinced that she saw a whale – I knew that buying her that glass on wine was a mistake!