Monday, October 16, 2006

From Picos de Europa to Bilbo

A Long weekend in Spain, on Thursday we celebrated "El Dia de la Hispanidad" or the Virgin "Del Pilar", depending whether you stay in Madrid or in Zaragoza. In Madrid, there was a big military parade on the Plaza de Colón - but I just heard about it in my Spanish class because we made a trip to the North of Spain. Originally, we thought we would spent that long weekend in Asturias, apparently the prettiest part of Spain, approx. 12 people, 3 cars etc. At the end, though, it was just five of us, so we fit in one car. In addition, it wasn't a trip to Asturias but to Cantabria and Euskadi (Pais Vasco). We were leaving on Thursday and when I was approaching my metro station in the morning, there were already crowds leaving the subway towards Paseo de la Castellana, because I live very close to the Plaza de Colón. On the way there, we made a quick stop in Burgos, an amazing old city with a beautiful cathedral. In Cantabria, we stayed in a house of Enrique's grandparents, but Enrique was in Michigan last week, so it was just his wife and kids (actually many, many kids, because there was another family visiting Esther). You can see the royal side of my boss on a picture called La Casona, it's the house we stayed in. On Friday, we made a trip to the eastern part of Cantabria, first we visited Santillana del Mar, which is known as "The village of three lies": it is not a holy city ("santa"), it's not flat ("llana") and it has no sea ("mar"). Very close to Santillana you can find the famous Altamira cave. Then we visited Comillas, a cute city close to the sea, famous for its castle, a big university and a house designed by Gaudi. The last place we visited on Friday was a city of San Vicente de la Barquera, a harbor that is close to the border with Asturias, so we could see Picos de Europa. On Saturday, we hit the western part of Cantabria and also the eastern part of Euskadi, a province called Bizkaia. In Cantabria, we visited Castro Urdiales, a holiday town with a beautiful cathedral and a Castle-Lighthouse. Then, crossing the border with Bizkaia, we realized how different were the provinces in Spain, it was like travelling in time: from the sleepy Cantabria, full of sheep and cows and cute little towns directly into a book written by Jules Verne about the industrialized Bizkaia. No doubt the Basques are so proud! In Bilbo, we made a short trip to see the Guggenheim Museo and then we had a wonderful lunch in the old city as the Basque chefs are known to be the best in Spain. On the way back, already in the night, we made a stop in Elantxobe, a fishermen's village that has such a small square that it has been motorized so the bus can turn around. By the way, the names in Euskara sound so good! Galdakaoko, for instance. Pure gems. Well, have a look at my Picasa website.

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