Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Weekend in Cantabria - Part 2. Fuente de las Anjanas

I'm doing three posts on our weekend trip because I wanted to dedicate one solely to the hotel we stayed in.  Posada Rural de las Anjanas is a tiny, twelve-room, rural hotel, that is truly out in the middle of nowhere.  The perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Posada Rural Fuente de las Anjanas
First off, don't try to find this place at night, unless you happen to have a very good GPS, although I suspect this place might not even be on the grid.  We don't have a GPS, but we did have detailed instructions from Google Maps on how to get from Santander to Val de San Vicente, which is where the hotel is, but we still managed to get lost.  But then again, Google Maps has gotten us lost on more than one occasion, and it doesn't always give you the best route, so next time around I'm going to look for a better alternative.  And I'm pretty sure The Three Wise Men are going to get The Professor a GPS for Christmas this year.

The whole getting lost thing strikes me as quite funny, considering that the name of the hotel is Fuente de las Anjanas.  According to the local mythology, the "anjanas" are a sort of forest nymph, whose purpose is to calm and guide lost travelers.

So, where can a person find an anjana when they need one?

They must have all been hiding behind the trees, laughing their fairy patooties off at our pathetic attempts to decipher Google's cryptic directions.  But even though no anjana magically appeared to rescue us, after driving around in circles for a bit in the dark, we finally found the hotel.  We all heaved a sigh of relief, thankful for the prospect of having a real bed to sleep in and not having to spend the night in the car, parked somewhere on a lonely country road.  We grabbed our stuff and went inside.

The woman at reception was surprised to see us.  She'd given up hope that we'd ever show up, and she told us so.  Then she proceeded to scold us, much in the way a mother scolds her naughty children, for not having called to let her know we'd be late.  Truth is, we'd been so busy getting lost, and then trying to get ourselves unlost, to think about calling, but I guess we should have.  We were a bit taken aback by the scolding, but then we figured it was just a bit of rural familiarity, and we laughed it off and prepared for dinner.

The kids had eaten dinner earlier, so The Professor and I went downstairs to the dining room, which was mostly occupied by a very large communal table, and a few smaller, round tables.  The smaller tables were all taken, so we sat at the end of the large table.  Dinner was served by the same woman who had received us, and a man, who I assumed was her husband.  First, we each had a large salad, followed by fish with garlic and herbs.  I'm not really sure what kind of fish it was, but whatever kind it was, it certainly was delicious.  And for dessert, we had a sort of fruit cocktail, topped with what I believe was pineapple yogurt.  An excellent meal to end an excellent day.

Once upstairs, we checked up on the kids, who were happily watching TV in bed, and then we went off to our own room.  Soon we heard a knock on the door, and The Professor opened it, expecting it to be one of the kids coming to complain about how her sisters were tormenting her.  But it turned out to be the man who had served us at dinner, bringing us a small bottle of champagne and some bonbons.  Nice touch.

The rooms were lovely.  It seems that each one is decorated differently, so they are all unique.  The kids got one called "Anjanas", and ours was "Hechiceras" (sorceresses).  It was a fairly cold night, but we were nice and warm inside our cozy room.

Here are a couple of photos of our rooms:
Anjanas
Hechiceras
After an excellent night's sleep, we all went down to breakfast. Nieves, as we'd discovered our host's name was, had saved us five seats around the end of the communal table. Since the seating is normally first come, first serve, she wanted to make sure the five of us could sit together, which was really sweet of her. Breakfast was a heaping dish of thick slices of hot toast, served with a small dish of butter and jam. There were also some delicious chocolate-coated cookies that the kids really enjoyed. We had all the coffee we could drink, and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice too. So, our day got off to a very good start.

And then it was time to leave. We would have liked to stay a bit longer, but we had plans to visit Erik and his family before returning to Pamplona, and we wanted to enjoy a leisurely drive along the coast beforehand.

While I collected our things, and left the kids to check their room for any last forgotton items, The Professor went downstairs to pay the bill. It turned out that we couldn't pay by credit card, because the phone lines don't work all that well, so there's no connection to the bank.  But Nieves was kind enough to give us her bank number so we could transfer the amount to her when we arrived home.

How many hotels do you know where they'll let you walk away without having paid first? Not many I imagine. True, they did have our names and id card numbers, so they could always find us.  But I doubt many other hotel owners would do the same.

So, if you're ever in Cantabria, and you're looking for a place to stay, I'd highly recommend Fuente de las Anjanas.

But  make sure you call first.

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