Spain with Sara & Amigas

Trip Start May 04, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
With Marta in San Sebastian, with Sara & Igor in Valladolid and with Maria in A Coruna

Flag of Spain  , Basque,
Friday, July 16, 2010

My final 2 weeks in Spain was the whole reason for my visit - to hang out with and get to know my Spanish pen-pal, Sara, who I had written to (in the deepest of detail I came to find out upon seeing her collection of my letters) during high school days!

In true school teacher form, Sara had everything organised - an action-packed itinerary and a whole bunch of lovely friends lined up to put us up and show us around the various parts of northern Spain. Huey also did his bit blessing us with spectacular weather for enjoying the north coast to it's fullest!

First stop was Marta in San Sebastian. Even coming off night shift at the hospital where she works as a thoracic surgeon, Marta had energy to spare! Days were spent visiting gorgeous villages along the north coast soaking up the sun, including a quick trip up into France to Biarritz - as you do! Nights were spent eating and drinking our way over town from one mouthwatering tapas bar to another. Mmmmmmm - that (free) mushroom risotto still makes me salivate now!

As Marta went back to work still full of beans and smiling, Sara & I returned to her home in Valladolid somewhat lethargic with slight sunstroke and embryonic food babies! After listening to Sara talk down her city, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was actually a lot to do in Valladolid and that it was a very nice city. The only thing Sara was right about was that it was stinking hot...with a very weird beach that one would not swim in unless trying to bring on illness voluntarily to try and get out of something much less pleasant! Not that we had to worry, Sara's hotel like apartment was complete with gym (which I gave absolutely no consideration to using of course!), paddle court (some "foreign" sport mixed between squash and tennis where I was spared embarrassment) and swimming pool (where we wasted an entire day)! The others weren't too much more strenuous - lunching and siestas with Igor on his lunch break, a day trip out to visit Christina in Tordesillas (home of the Treaty of Tordesillas when the line dividing the world between Spanish and Portuguese colonizers was determined, the 14th Century Convent of Santa Clara AND frozen ice milk!) and laughing with Irene as she dished up over lunch "Meet the Parents" type stories of the shenanigans of her high school students on camp.

Our final few days were spent up in the north-west province of Galicia in the stunning seaside city of A Coruna. Sara had talked a lot about this area of the country as the place where her father was born and where she spends every summer with extended family. I was not disappointed! The bus ride there was breathtaking...not just for the dramatic mountainous landscapes, but also for the rally our driver took us on through it all! There in A Coruna we stayed with Sara's hilarious friend, Maria. She couldn't speak English fluently and my Spanish is minimal at best, but I still found myself in fits of laughter...and nearly without a hand at the end of the stay due to a slight malfunction with the electric windows on Maria's part as a new car owner!

From here in A Coruna we also managed to make a "pilgrimage" to the provincial capital of Santiago de Compostela. Rather guiltily we made it there easily via bus passing the many pilgrims trekking along the 9th century medieval pilgrimage route of Camino de Santiago or Way of James destined for the city's Cathedral to partake in the celebrations for the special Holy Compostelan Year of 2010 in honour of the martyrdom of Santiago. As magnificent as the Cathedral was, we weren't dedicated enough to join the hordes of eager worshipers patiently waiting in a line that stretched back around the corner, so opted to admire it from afar.

In true Amy style mourning good things coming to an end, crocodile tears were shed in having to say hasta luego (see you later) to Sara. I really did feel as though I had been connected with a long lost friend. Neither of us knew how we would get on without the shield of a pen & paper, or more recently Facebook, but, to throw in a bit of Aussie slang, we had an absolute ripper time together!

I look forward to welcoming you Down Under Sara as soon as you can get UP & OVER on the plane. I'll have a few coldies on ice waiting for you Igor - be sure to bring some sturdy thongs that won't blow out!

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