Santander: much more than just a bank!
For many, a typical image of Spain is a Mediterranean costa resort, packed with sun worshippers, whose only criterion of a good holiday is the depth of their tan and the abundance of cheap food and wine. Go to the north coast, the Costa Cantábrica, and you will find few foreign tourists. The beaches are bathed by the Atlantic, that unpredictable ocean that can be a joy when its calm, and a scourge when it is angry.
But a beautiful coastline, nevertheless.
In the early 20th century, the people of Santander were so pro-royal, that they built a summer palace for King Alfonso
XIII. Dutifully, he stayed there every summer enjoying the fresh Atlantic breezes and country sports, until 1931 when he was deposed in favour of the Second Republic.
In the grounds of the Palace, an outdoor museum display honours the attempts of several Balsa expeditions to repeat (and improve on) what Thor Heyerdahl
had achieved on his Kon Tiki expedition in the 1940s. On simple man-made rafts, they succeeded in crossing the Pacific Ocean from Ecuador to Australia, a journey of some 9000 nautical miles, proving beyond doubt that ancient indigenous communities could have done the same hundreds of years ago, long before the exploits of Columbus and his successors.
I tell you, Santander is much, much more than a financial institution with a dodgy customer services department!