Saturday, December 6, 2014

Santander, Spain: Trip Videos (RAW)

La Playa de Loredo

Sea lions in the Minizoo on the Palacio de la Magdalena, p1

Lady on the Rocks, Palacio de la Magdalena, p2

La Playa de Somo, p1

La Playa de Somo, p2 (Goofing off)

La Playa de la Galizano

Santander, Spain (p3): Altamira, Paleolithic Cave, Santillana del Mar

Paleolithic Cave of Altamira, Santillana del Mar, Spain
(Continued from Part 2)

To protect the site, the actual Paleolithic Cave of Altamira has been closed to the public since 2002. Over the summer of 2014, the Spanish government reopened the cave to five members of the public (per day) who won a lottery and who were willing to don protective suits. Altamira is also a protected UNESCO world heritage site.

Tourists inside New Cave at Altamira
The Spanish built a "New Cave" inside the Altamira Museum, which is a replica of the closed site, to ease the congestion of visitors to the actual cave site. According to news sources, government officials argue for reopening the real cave, stating that the emotional connection visitors make is different when looking at the replica. They believe that the replica is less awe-inspiring to visitors. We'll have to judge that for ourselves.

Entrance to the Museo de Altamira
We had to purchase our tickets at a building behind us and down a slight hill (in the picture above). Tickets are inexpensive in order to allow more people the opportunity to see the museum. Apparently there are a large number of students, professors, and researchers that regularly visit the museum. You'll need a to get a ticket, too.

Compra de entradas
Tickets to the Museo de Altamira

Great to see you got your ticket so quickly.

Plano del Edificio del Museo de Altamira
Map of the Museo de Altamira
The exhibit is a bit larger than we first thought. We'll have to wait until 12:30 PM for our group's turn to go into the New Cave. Until then, there's an exhibit we can check out.

Bone harpoons. Museo Nacional y Centro de Investigación de Altamira © Ministerio de Cultura
Harpoons in the Exhibit
Various sections of the Exhibit have videos with headphones for listening. The default language is Spanish, however, holding down a button on the headphones switches the language to English. Which means we can actually listen in English at each station.

It's nearly 12:30 PM. We better head over to the entrance to the New Cave. In a few moments, the docent will open the door and let us in. Even though the New Cave is a replica, cameras are forbidden.

When the door opened we were ushered into a mini theater where we watched a movie about the caves. It was a neat representation of life in the cave over the extended period of time of its history. When the film finished, we made our way through a hallway into the New Cave. Watch the UNESCO/NHK video below to get a feel for what we saw.

If you want to open the video in a new window, click here:

We took our time staring up at the cave ceiling. The researchers believe the artists used a straw and bowl method to blow the dyes onto the paintings. (Random sarcasm from Monique: "Looks like they were the first airbrush artists.") One thing to note is that the cave does not have low ceilings, so, the artists would have needed some way to paint images above their heads. There was no mention of scaffoldings or super tall ancient people, maybe they played "Light as a feather. Stiff as a board." Or perhaps, they had their pet mammoths paint for them...Hmmm...

Dancing Bison (Standing Bison)
The Dancing Bison is Sally's favorite. It is a polychrome bison. She likes the details in the multiple colors and the way the artist rendered the hair and legs of the bison.

A Sleeping Bison
 The Cave of Altamira by Jose Antonio Lasheras
Black Coal Bison

The Sleeping Bison is Jenn's favorite. You can't really tell from this picture, but the bison is painted on a large circular protrusion in the rock face. This gives the bison depth, which is what Jenn likes so much about it.

 The Black Coal Bison is Monique's favorite. It also is painted in a protrusion in the rockface that gives the bison depth. To Monique it seems like a sketch for one of the polychrome bisons, which makes her think some cave artist(s) never finished painting it. Just a thought.

The video is to Steely Dan's "The Caves of Altamira." We found the song while doing research for this post. We dug it and thought y'all might as well!

For more information about Altamira, click the link to The Cave of Altamira by Jose Antonio Lasheras. It includes more history with lots of pictures! or copy the link below into your URL address bar.

Without experiencing the "real" cave, we have no way to compare our emotional responses. That said, the Spanish government officials are wrong about the New Cave. We each experienced awe, inspiration, and a very real connection with the past. Additionally, we experienced appreciation for the present efforts taken to preserve that past.

 Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for more travel posts.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Santander, Spain (p.2): Palacio de la Magdalena

Palacio de la Magdalena, Santander, Spain 
(Continued from Part 1)

The Palacio de la Magdalena was built in the early 19th century, on the top of a hill overlooking the Bay of Santander. The Second Spanish Republic confiscated the palace and turned it into a university. Check out the link to learn more about Palacio de la Magdalena's history.

We should totally walk the grounds while we're here. Here's the map:

1. Minizoo (We'll visit that last.)
2. Playa de Biquinis. (Let's start here.) ;)
5. Museo del Mar

This view is of the park and cafe on Playa de Biquinis (1). This beach was named in the 1950s when "foreign women" started wearing bikinis here. The beach proper starts across the playground.

Samuel Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente was a Spanish environmentalist in the mid-1900s. He died in a plane crash in Alaska, where he was filming a documentary. The park begins with this monument, contains plaques describing various trees and bushes, and stumps have been carved into interesting figures including chairs. It is a very inviting place to chill. There are also modern art pieces dedicated to victims of terrorism.

We're going to skip walking down to Faro de la Cerda (3). Instead, we'll head directly toward the palace. It's a steady slope leading to great views. In the mean time, check out this groovy stump art. While we pant up the hill.

Welcome to the Palacio de la Magdalena (4)! We made it! What a sight. You really can see the different architectural styles mentioned on the palace website. In a few minutes, we'll head around the corner there on the right to check out the Bay of Santander. It looks promising: beautiful views with well placed benches from which to enjoy them.  

We expected high winds, but there was only a light breeze. Quite an extraordinary day. We met an Irish family that lived in Scotland and were in Spain to see their daughter "off to university." They called it being "on holiday." 

Now, we've got a short walk to the Museo del Mar, but we should definitely take our time, enjoy the views, and sit on some of those stump chairs.

"Aw. Isn't Jenn cute?
Wow. Would you look at that!
Santander, Spain."
~thoughts from Monique's distracted brain~

Okay, enough goofing off. Let's get serious...check out those pretty ships at the Museo del Mar - wait, is that a bubble?

That bubble was used during a research trip to the Amazon. Researchers spent 267 days in it. The three small galleons (caravels) were created and sailed with the intention of embracing the sea-faring spirit and culture that is a part of Spain's heritage. In other words, these ships were created to retrace the steps Columbus took. (Not surprisingly to history buffs, the map of their route showed South America as the destination.)

Museum: The Man and The Sea
 The ships were much smaller than I imagined them to be - the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria - particularly when considering that the raft is quite close to the same size. Based on some of the descriptions, I'm not sure that they actually followed Columbus' path, so much as crossed the Atlantic in similar vessels.

Now, that we've seen the Museo del Mar, we're right next to the minizoo. We should check it out, too.

First, the sea lions (left). Then, the sea birds (right). Definitely, a minizoo. It looks like they used to have penguins at some point, but not any more. I'm glad for the penguins' sake. I hate seeing sea lions locked up so close to the ocean. It's sea creature torture: "Here's the ocean. No, you may not go in it." Terrible!

Aside from the minizoo, wow, what a wonderful place to chill out, picnic, enjoy beautiful views, meet others out enjoying the views, ambulate, and otherwise spend the day. Perhaps the next time we'll go swimming at Playa de Biquinis?

In our next post, we go to Altamira, Spain to visit the neolithic cave. Stay tuned for more: "Adventures of JennMoeSa!"

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Santander, Spain (p1): Demographics, Las Playas

La Playas Langre
La Playas Langre
¡Bienvenido de España! (Welcome to Spain!)
September 20th - 27th 2014

The Demographics
Airport: Santander
Residence: Camping Derby Loredo, Loredo, Cantabria, Costa Verde, Spain, Earth, The Solar System
Locations: Santander, Loredo, Somo, Langre, Galizano, Altamira
Beaches: Playas de Loredo, Somo, Puntal, los Tranquilos, Galizano, Langre, Camello, Biquinis, la Magdalena
Biggest Place (we visited): Santander
Smallest Place (we visited): Langre
Oldest Place (we visited): Altamira
Language(s) (we heard/spoke): Spanish, Castillian, Basque country dialects, German, French, Swiss (2 dialects), English, Italian, Dutch
Weather: Temperate climate; cool, wet (grey days); hot, sunny (clear days)
Ocean: Atlantic, Northern Spain; cold, rocky, clear, teal, choppy, partial/full nudity, wildlife preserve, light and fine grain sand, rock/pebble beaches, low level detrius (seashells, etc), September tidal extremes

The Story
There we were...


about to board a Ryanair flight at Frankfurt Hahn airport. You'll need a ticket to join us.

Good, you have one. Just board the plane and take a little nap. We'll be there in no time.

Camping Derby Loredo in Loredo, Spain

We arrived kind of late that first night. Barely recall putting up the tent, much less climbing in the sleeping bag. The night was warm, the morning chill. The smell of salt did not assault our senses which was a very pleasant surprise - the air  hinted of beach.

We're camping at Camping Derby Loredo. There's a campground restuarant that over looks the beach. The view from the deck is superb. Can you find the Remax balloon?

Our beach is called La Playa de Loredo. The beach in the far-far-away is La Playa de Somo. They are connected. We like beaches a lot and chose to drive to various beaches. To the right of the above picture are two beaches called La Playa de los Tranquilos.

September is known to the locals as the month of tidal extremes. La Playa de los Tranquilos are pictured at low tides. At high tide, the area with people is covered in water; high tides became very noticable between 5 pm to 6 pm, and by 8 pm nearly all the beach is covered.

Las Playas de Langre are quite rocky. The picture at the beginning of this post is an image of La Playa de Langre (minor). To the right is La Playa de Langre la Grande.

East of Las Playas de Langre is La Playa de Galizano. Take a long walk down a beach tractor ramp and you'll find two areas to explore. One area is rocky and sandy on the oceanfront, the other area is a sandy tidal marsh. The high tides fill a long channel. At low tide the whole area is accessible. Not sure what time of year would be best to see that channel full, it would be interesting to find out, maybe I'll remember to check it out.

In the opposite direction (SW),  Las Playas de Somo y Puntal makes up the peninsula that points into the Bay of Santander, ends in marshland, and runs from La Playa de los Tranquilos.

Across the Bay of Santander, next to the Palacio de la Magdalena, is La Playa El Camello a very small city beach inside Santander. Two other beaches are in the area: Las Playas de la Magdalena y Biquinis. Santander is a larger beach / city destination on the Costa Verde. 

Here's an overview to give you all an idea of the layout of the Cantabrian coastline.

As you can see we made the best of our time and saw as many area beaches as we could handle. While in the campgrounds, one morning I accidentally "Hallo'd" instead of "Hola'd" at which point we made friends with a Swiss family that later told us about Altamira, Spain. We already wanted to visit the Palacio de la Magadalena, we next needed to do a quick bit of research on Altamira.

Check back later for our part 2 and 3 posts about the Palacio de la Magdalena and Altimira paleolithic caves, respectively.

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