Santillana del Mar and San Vicente de la Barquera
The journey to Santillana del Mar was an adventurous one involving narrow winding roads uphill, but the good thing about stopping to let the engine cool is that you get views like this.
As usual, the journey took a lot longer than we were expecting so we ended up wild camping in a place that didn't look too dissimilar to Dartmoor (just with wind turbines). They should've been a clue really - I didn't get much sleep because it was so windy. The next morning we drove down an amazing dual carriageway that we joined at a point that was higher than Scafell Pike and ended at sea level! It was scarily windy but it was very pretty too.
One of the issues with windy weather is that it means we can't use our pop-up shower tent, so we found a campsite... but then promptly got stuck in the mud there! The pitches were so muddy we couldn't stay, so after a bit of a challenge getting the van out of the mud, we found a family to couchsurf with. They welcomed us to stay in their spare room, we had dinner with them and it turns out they have a cousin who might be able to help us with the windscreen, so watch this space!
We arrived at Santillana del Mar the next day and found a car park at the top of the town where we could park for free for 24 hours. The views weren't too bad for a free stopover.
We headed into town to explore. It's quite a touristic town, it was very busy because of it being the Easter weekend, but that did mean that everything was open for a change!
I wanted to find a church to go to on Easter Sunday, which we did, and I asked in my best Spanish what time the Easter service was, so we returned the next day and waited to be allowed in to the church...
However... the church had two bouncers on the door and they wouldn't let us in! Normally the church is more of a tourist attraction and they charge 3 euros entry to look around. The services are free to attend. But despite my best efforts at Spanish, they wouldn't listen to me and we got turned away from the service and told to come back after the service had finished! So instead, we went back to the van and ate chocolate!
We drove on to the amazing San Vicente de la Barquera and instantly knew we were in the right place. We parked on a free beach car park where the majority of vehicles were VW campervans with surfboards or paddleboards, then headed out to sea. The view looking back to land from the sea was stunning - I never thought I'd be paddleboarding on the sea with views of a beach, castle and snowy mountains! The view below is taken from the beach with the sea behind me.
The next day, rather than paddleboarding in the sea we headed towards the marina. It was lovely on the way out, but the way back was the choppiest we've ever experienced. Here are some photos from the non-choppy bits (and one of two other paddleboarders from the night before).
The other exciting thing we did over the Easter weekend was our washing!