Posted: May 7, 2013 in Spain 2013
We met up with Beatriz’ mom Isabel Thursday night back in Bilbao. We enjoyed some wine and pintxos together and said our very sad goodbyes.
Friday morning, we checked out of our hotel and traveled 3-1/2 hours to Segovia. Segovia is an old city with roman, moorish and Christian artifacts. A roman aqueduct from about 100 AD marks the south side of the old town. A beautiful Cathedral from 1500 is in the middle of the city and a boat shaped castle, the Alcazar of Segovia is at the northern tip. The Alcazar is built on top of ruins on top of ruins… The existing structure dates from around 1100.
Our hotel, Casa La Mudejar, is built on top of an ancient Roman spa. They have built an underground spa in top of the roman spa. There are several areas of the roman spa exposed to the interior of the current day spa. We spent Friday night in the spa.
Posted: May 7, 2013 in Spain 2013
We left Donostia and traveled north-east into the French city of Saint Jean-de-Luz. This is still part of Basque Country. We started with crêpes, shopped and walked, had some hot chocolate and tea and finished with some ice cream.
On the way out, we had to deal with the automated self cleaning toilet from hell.
Posted: May 4, 2013 in Spain 2013
On Thursday, we drove with Beatriz to Donostia (San Sebastian). Beatriz met us in Bilbao arriving on the metro from Sopelano.
Donostia is on the Atlantic Ocean or probably more correctly Bay of Biscay. It’s a beach town and even though it was cold and windy, there were swimmers. We went to a true Pintxos or Tapas bar which is hard to describe. It is like a US bar, but the bar is covered with plates of food. The food (Tapas or Pintxos) is made to serve one person with 1-3 bites. You go to the bar and fill a plate with Pintxos and order your drinks. This was more difficult than you might think – but thank goodness Beatriz was with us. We had shrimp, artichoke, ham, tuna and egg. It was delicious! Cheryl had Sangria and I had Sidra or hard apple cider. Sidra is a local specialty which includes a dramatic pouring from an elevated bottle or leg tap.
Posted: May 3, 2013 in Spain 2013
Just catching up from Wednesday. Beatriz’ family took us along the coast ending the day in Sopelana where we had hot chocolate in their home and ate dinner at one of their favorite nearby restaurants. And, I tried squid in it’s own ink. Tara thought it cruel to eat a creature using it’s own defensive mechanism as a stew..
Posted: May 2, 2013 in Spain 2013
After Athletic Club training on Wednesday, we visited the city of Gernika.
Gernika has traditionally been the meeting place for the governance of the Bizkaia region. Since around 1300, the people of Biscay (Bizkaia) would send representatives to meet here. The meetings were abolished as dictators took power in Spain culminating in Franco’s rule over Spain. The Bizkaian representative governance did not resume until after Franco.
Gernika was the city offered by Franko to his allie Hitler for bombing practice by the Nazi Luftwaffe. This bombing against unarmed civilians inspired Picasso (confined to his Paris apartment during Nazi occupation) to paint his famous pacifist painting “Guernica”.
We visited Gernika and toured the Assembly House. The remnants of the original meeting tree are preserved. A new meeting tree grows by the Assembly House.
Posted: May 1, 2013 in Spain 2013
Joseba, Isabel and Beatriz took us to Lezama today to watch Athletic Club train. Fortunately for us, they held a controlled scrimmage with referees. Bielsa (the coach) stood in the middle of the pitch coaching the players.
Posted: April 30, 2013 in Spain 2013
When we decided to take in an exchange student last summer, we had no idea how much we’d learn about Spain and the Basque Country. And we never imagined we’d end up in Basque Country the next year! We met up with Beatriz and her mother Isabel in front of a statue of John Adams. Adams had come to study the Basque region as part of his education. I will have to read Adams’ “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” as noted by the council of Bizkaia.
Beatriz’ family absolutely spoiled us. We shopped, drank wine (Txakolatte, spelling is definitely wrong – a white wine kind of similar to Reisling), ate Pintxos, travelled to the beach by metro and car, drank wine at the beach and ended with a hearty traditional meal of salad, chicken, beef and fish (and cerveza). We also met Beatriz’s uncle Aitor and his girlfriend Virginia who helped drive us around in their really cool Fiat. Beatriz’ father Joseba met us for dinner and cooked the beef at the table – it reminded me of an Argentina BBQ. Many thanks (Eskerrik Asko) to Aitor, Isabel and Joseba for driving us all over the place and walking us back to our hotel! And eskerrik asko for the fantastic meal!!
Too many pictures to post… But here are a few.