Best of Spain

Day 6 – September 8, 2004 – Santander to Bilbao to San Sebastian to Pamplona

After a wonderful buffet breakfast with many choices of fresh fruit, breads, eggs, and meat we were on the bus at 8:30. We were then on Route 10 or A-8 going east toward Bilbao in the mountainous Basque territory.

Ellen gave us a history and philosophy of the Basque relationship with the separatists. The area is mountainous with high meadows and half timbered houses which makes it look like Switzerland. Along the highways there are many patches of pampas grass that are in full bloom.

Today's first stop was in Bilbao where we visited the new Guggenheim Museum. We had only 1.5 hours on our own to visit this impressive modern art gallery and kept thinking of our Eduardo and how much he would have enjoyed these exhibits. It was a rush to see all three floors and we were only able to listen to parts of the audio tour.

At 11:30 we were back on the bus heading to the seaside town of San Sebastian. There we were shown the Bahia de la Concha beach (the water looked so inviting and cool), explored the old part of the city, took lots of pictures, and had a wonderful tapas lunch.

Tapas originated as small plates put over a glass to keep the flies out of the beer. The custom expanded to have cheese, meats, and is now wonderful and creative finger food.

It was 96 degrees but there was a nice sea breeze so it did not feel too oppressive. This was a fun city, most of the medieval streets are closed to traffic that welcomes a leisurely pace.

By 2:40 everyone was back on the bus (people have been punctual) and ready to go on to Pamplona. We drove around the city seeing the ancient streets and our first stop was at the bullring (statue of Hemingway).

We traced the path where the bulls run during the Festival of St. Fermin in July, when the bulls are left to run free through the town! We had until 5:30 to look around and explore the town and I bought a bottle of txakolina wine that the men at San Sebastian had recommended when we talked in the city square.

While we were busy being tourists, Francisco, our driver, had taken our luggage to the hotel so there was no delay getting into our rooms. We turned on the A/C and edited te pictures and wrote the, showered and had to be ready for dinner at 8:30 PM. The internet is across from the hotel and a park. We will try to get there before 10:30 PM.


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