Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Pamplona
Trip Start Nov 10, 2013
15Trip End Nov 24, 2013
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Once inside we were divided into two groups. Our group was lead by David from Scotland. He took us first into a gallery with very large sculptures made of steel by American artist Richard Serra, . They were huge standing ellipses and spirals that you could walk into or through. David did a good job of teaching us about modern art and asking us questions to keep us engaged in the conversation. Next we went to another exhibit on the first floor by American artist Jenny Holzer which was textual art. It was done in red and blue light with words of a poem running verticially like a neon sign. There were 6 or 8 vertical "billboards" running simultaneously with the same words. On the front it was in red in English and then you walked through the vertical lights and it was in Spanish or Basque on the back. It was about 20 feet high and the movement of the words made us dizzy. Some people had to leave or turn away because it was so disorienting. We continued on the first floor to a gallery filled with similar paintings by American Alex Katz. This exhibit was called smiles because each of the female subjects was smiling, similar smiles in similar poses, on a black background. Again, David did a great job of eliciting from us about what we noticed.
We went up to the second floor to an exhibit by Spanish artist Antoni Tapies
Once outside again we walked to the bridge to take pictures, then walked around the museum and took pictures. There were lots of neat angles. I especially liked the spider and the puppy sculpted out of shrubbery. Then we started our journey to San Sebastian along the Atlantic Coast.
We arrived in San Sebastian about 1:45 a little late because a street was blocked and we couldn't park where they normally do. So we had to walk across a bridge to get into the old city. San Sebastian is an elegant resort town with three beaches. As we drove to the old city we saw two of the beaches and because of our detour we also saw the third beach. It was a little chilly because of the wind. Raymond walked us into town and showed us where we could eat and shop and where the harbor was. We went to a Tapas Bar for lunch
Then we headed out of the city and up into the Pyrenees Mountains. It was grey and it eventually rained. On the way to Pamplona we watched a video on the Fiesta of San Fermin also known as the Running of the Bulls. The scenery was spectacular even if it was raining. On the north side of the mountains everything was green as they get a lot of rain. The fields reminded me of Wales or Ireland only with less sheep. We arrived in Pamplona shortly before 5:00 but got lost and it took us a while to get to our hotel, the NH Iruna Park. We got off the bus and got our key. We are the only ones on the 9th floor because we got a suite with a fold out sofa bed. We have a great view!
We had less than an hour until we met downstairs at 6:00 to ride the bus to the old city. It was almost dark already. We walked as a group to the Plaza Mayor and it was already dark. Then we crossed the plaza and went down the street where they have the running of the bulls. It is really narrow with shops along both sides. During the Fiesta of San Fermin the shop keepers board up their doors and windows. We walked all the way to the bull ring but it took less than 10 minutes. The bull ring was not illuminated so we couldn't see it very well. Outside the bull ring on Passeo de Hemingway there was a bust of Hemingway as he wrote several novels in Pamplona about bull fighting
After we had all gathered at the square, Raymond led us to Restaurante Basaburua for dinner, drinks included. We were seated in the back room along two long tables. Before our meal the wine steward, Michael gave us a lesson on the wines we would be drinking. The three wines were from the same 75 sq. mile region of Rioja. There were two red wines: Editor Crianza and Coto Crianza both made from Tempranillo grapes and one white wine made from Verdejo grapes. I only tasted the first one and it was really good. On our plates was waiting a hard roll and soon they brought out cerrano ham (like prisciutto Italian ham) to go with it. then they brought out deep fried shrimp, cheese and ham and cheese. The next tapas was a dish of eggs, shrimp and green beans. They were all delicious. During this whole time we were drinking the wines. Next came the main course of hake (white fish) or steak. I got the fish and it was delicious. Larry and Derek got the steak and it really tough and full of grissle. For dessert we had flan and vanilla ice cream with coffee sauce on it. As the evening wore on the licorice liquor and another liquor started going down in shots. It got louder and louder with more and more talking and joking and laughing. We had a really good time. After dinner we had to walk to get to the bus and it was raining a little but it didn't dampen anyone's spirits at all. We had fun on the way back on the bus but reality came down on us when Raymond reminded us that tomorrow our wake up is 6:15. We got back to the hotel after 9:30.