Monday, 27 June 2016

Liencres: Pulp Fiction (Orange Juice and Audiobooks by the Sea)

Liencres, Spain (Liencres, España)
November 2015
Wanting to lead a more quiet life after such fast paced travel, we booked an apartment hotel for one week in Liencres. A whole week in one place! Wow. What slowpokes. And in a town that was not known for its tourist attractions, history or anything else for that matter. So, why did we choose Liencres? It was cheap and there was a beach nearby.
In fact, this place was so off the radar that as we were driving towards it we passed through a series of increasingly hideous towns with identical rows of houses. I assume that these sprung up effectively as suburbs for the nearby city of Santander - people could live within commuting distance to the city and also be reasonably close to the beach.
We settled into our apartment quickly, strewing our belongings about the place ("hey, we don't have to clean up for a whole week, wheee!") and discovered an orange juicer. They do love their oranges in Spain. The supermercado was just on the corner of our road, and we loaded up on provisions like oranges and taco supplies.
During that week, we got to know our local grocer. He spoke no English, and we no Spanish. He didn't let that hamper the discussion! Using complicated hand gestures and fervent language he tried to tell us many things. We understood none of them, except when he said "poco a poco", meaning that we would begin to understand "little by little". He and his wife were very friendly and always picked ripe frutas for us.
We also took full advantage of the town bakery for fresh bread and doughnuts, and tried out a couple of the local eateries.

The beach, of course, was enjoyed. Sea breezes meant that it wasn't exactly bikini weather, and how could we expect more in November anyway? We had the beach all to ourselves and listened to audio books while watching the surf crash into the rocks. 

Our tacos were zesty and delectable, with fresh chillis and lime for the salsa. We made the mistake of keeping leftover chorizo in the fridge and anytime the icy machine was accessed it scented the whole apartment like a spicy sausage. It got to the point that we dreaded opening it.
In the evenings I watched the crime-fighting TV show Castle dubbed in Spanish. It was hilarious, and I think I picked up a little of the language along the way. At one point we sampled Spanish sidra, which tasted rather alcoholic and reminded us a bit of scrumpy. We definitely prefer French cider.

Not wanting to let the sights of nearby towns escape us, we took a day trip to the Cave of el Castillo near the town of Puente Viesgo. It was here that we were able to see the oldest cave paintings in Europe, and some of the oldest in the world. Having booked online previously, we were quite concerned when a group of shrilly screaming banshee children swarmed the area by the ticket booth. Luckily they weren't in our tour time slot and we were grouped with other mild-mannered tourists. The tour was in Spanish, but I understood some words. I gathered from her guidance that there was evidence of both Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens in the cave, and that occupation could be traced back over 150,000 years. Just kidding! I only understood the words "clothing" and "horse" - the rest I learned online. Some of the later paintings were depictions of a menagerie of animals, while the earlier ones were the artists' hands outlined in red paint. Hey, we all have to start somewhere.

On another day to break up our extreme laziness, we visited the medieval town of Santillana del Mar.

The namesake of the town, Santa Juliana, is kept in the church (or what remains of her).

As well as churches, the town was full of palaces and mansions of olde. In contrast to the fancy lodgings, there also remained an ancient-looking stable in the middle of the main street leading up to the church. Apparently a well-traversed tourist destination, we saw souvenir shops selling strange ornaments like clogs and cat-shaped doorstops.

And the red ivy was still going strong!

We saw a paddock filled with tiny ponies and I got excited. One pony whom I immediately dubbed "Pancho" came up right to me and I read him a bedtime story in Esperanto. Seeing how much happiness such escapism brought to the ponies, I was determined to free these little furry creatures from their agricultural prison. I broke into a lumberjack's medieval house and stole a chainsaw. Then, I emancipatorily tore down the fence posts and let the ponies run riot through the town. The greedy pony farmers, who had enslaved their animals to be nothing more than fuzzy lawnmowers, howled at this ponal revolution and tried to round up their escaped beasts, but I, wielding a chainsaw and sitting astride the charging Pancho cut them all down and so the liberation of Santillana Del Mar was complete. The ponies became successful children's tour operators, bought their own houses, and lived side by side with the citizens of the village from there on out. 

Later in the week we discovered the wondrous Playa de Valdearenas. It was a very dogged beach, in that it was tenacious in attracting every dog owner in Spain. We lay in the sun and hoped the dogs would be more interested in urinating on logs than us. Luckily the logs won out every time.

Warm and happy, we lazed on the beach until the wind picked up and we returned to our apartment trailing sand everywhere.

On our last day in Liencres, we built a teensy sand castle using a gelato spoon as a shovel and a toothpaste lid as a bucket. Why? Why not, I say!

Today's post was almost called: Enjoying the Frutas of Our Non-Labour