San Sebastian

Trip Start Apr 10, 2012
Trip End Jul 13, 2012

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Flag of Spain  , Basque Country,
Monday, May 28, 2012

After getting the hang of French road signs again while in France, and learning new ones in Spanish for the last month, we are suddenly confronted with signs in the Basque language. A language nothing like Spanish or French! A language you can't even make a guess at. Lots of k's, x's i's etc . It seems more like Finnish. 
The Basque people are both in this area of Spain, and then over the border in France (we are now only 20 km from the French border)).
This is a extraordinary part of part of Spain. We were seeing the beautiful coastline along the Bay of Biscay (haven't used those words since social studies many years ago) and then to the west the looming Pyrenees.
We travelled along the coast road from Bilbao. This road was quite mountainous, and the towns we passed through had harbours, often boat building, and very busy streets. Usually it was difficult or impossible to find a park. The country side remained green and beautiful. It was never a dull drive here.
We camped at a wonderful campground high up on the hills near Zarautz. From the front window of the van the Atlantic Ocean was before us. More challenging the next day of course, when we had to trek down and then up the hill to catch the bus to San Sebastian
 In San Sebastian, the famous La Concha Beach had a fair covering of roasting bodies. It was a lovely day, and further on hordes of school children were very loud after visiting the aquarium. Old men with the famous basque berets watched the boats bobbing about in the harbour.

We had started by following the Urumea River which flows through the town. Over it are number of bridges, the most attractive the Puente Maria Christina. From here we continued to the Cathedral Buen  Pastor, set amongst the commercial buildings, the  ornate city hall, and then we followed the water's edge with the Christ statue Monte Urgull Mendia looking over us.
We walked  into Plaza de la Constitution, and saw that the apartments fronting the square are all numbered. Later I found out that these balconies doubled as viewing boxes for the bull fights that were once held here.
But we are soon to leave Spain, so had to have tapas for lunch. What a wonderful way of serving food this is. The tapas are already set out - so no waiting. You choose your own, so get what you like. You can have as few as you like, which is so good when often you just want a little snack. Or as many as you want of course. Best of all, they are so affordable - mostly 1.75 -2.5 euros.

On our way back to the bus we passed a milk vending machine. With fresh milk not always available in the shops, this was a surprise. There are plastic litre bottles for 50c, that you can obviously reuse, and milk itself was 1 euro. Very handy, and I like the recycling part.

 It will be with a little sadness that we move on from Spain, as the country has really surpassed our expectations. The scenery, the buildings, the art are so variable and so interesting. The people with their laughter, friendliness and music have impressed us no end. 
But France also has plenty of attractions for us, so we are not TOO sad.
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