The ferry passed lovely little islands this morning, as it approached its eventual birth in Santander. I remember Julie marvelling at the beauty of the islands, and at the beautiful golden sand that decorates a spit that juts out into the sea from the land about a quarter of a mile from the harbour. I also remember that we were basking in the sunshine and listening to a 'mix tape' that I had put together for our holiday, through two pairs of headphones attached to my Sony Walkman. And the song that stands out in my mind is 'Pumping on your stereo' by Supergrass: Julie and I couldn't keep still as we listened to the song and were bobbing up and down in time to the (very strong) beat, while other passengers looked at us as if we were quite strange. And of course, we were strange: Always in step with each other but out of step with everyone else; always salmon swimming against the flow of the river. On this trip, I have an iPod with me, with more songs stored on it than I will ever have time to listen to even if I live to be a hundred. But I didn’t listen to music today as we sailed into Santander. Today, I sat on my own at a table on the top deck, eating a veggie pizza and thinking about the intervening years and particularly, about the 20 months that have elapsed since Julie and I left Spain together, in our motor home, in October 2014, bound for Frankfurt and her fourth course of ‘targeted chemotherapy’ treatment. Then I 'Facetimed' my sister Gina, and brother-in-law, Mike. It being a Saturday, I knew that my dad would be calling round to see them ... and so it was that I sat on a ship, sailing into Santander harbour, on a Saturday afternoon, talking to – and seeing – my dad, Gina, and Mike. It was lovely to speak to them and it made me feel less alone and isolated; but I could tell that they too couldn’t comprehend the fact that I was on a ferry, on my own, without Julie.
When the ferry finally docked, at 4.30pm Spanish time, I rode the mile or so to my accommodation: a hostel called Hospedaje Magallanes (22 Calle de Magallanes, Santander, 39007). I’ve never stayed in a Spanish hostel before so was unsure of what to expect and, in truth, a little apprehensive. But that apprehension was entirely misplaced; the hostel was lovely, as was my room. I wanted to ask Julie, “What do you think?” Even if I knew she loved a place, on the few occasions that we ever stayed in a hostel or a hotel, it was always nice to double check and hear Julie say that she was pleased with our accommodation. Today, she wasn’t there to ask of course, and so I had to decide for myself whether it was ‘up to scratch’. “Yes, it is”, I concluded – on my own behalf but also on Julie’s. She was always particular about cleanliness – especially the bathrooms - whenever we stayed in other people’s accommodation; and this accommodation met her high standards.
I decided to spend a couple of hours in my new surroundings, setting up a blog about my ride, before heading out into the Spanish evening, for a wander around the city, and to take one or two photographs. I finally settled into bed at 11.30pm; not quite as early as I had hoped but nevertheless, a relatively early night ahead of what will be the most difficult leg – the Spanish leg - of this emotional journey. K xx
1. "Just to prove that I am here!"; 2-7. Sailing in towards Santander; 8-10. Santander from the sea; 11-15. Santander from the land!
Julie and I used to always have a 'song of the day' whenever we were on our travels, and that is a tradition that I have decided to continue. Song of the day for today - day 8 of my bike ride back to Julie's beach and my first in Spain - is 'Pumping on your stereo' by Supergrass. This was playing the last time – the only time - that Julie and I sailed into Santander together.