Tuesday 31 May 2016

Basque In My Greatness

The San Sebastián area of Spain is famous for a few reasons. It is part of the Basque Country, a semi-autonomous region in the north of Spain that has been fighting for independence since 1975. It also has the greatest concentration of Michelin star restaurants of any town in the world. Mostly, however, San Sebastián is famous for its beaches and sunshine. Naturally, it rained pretty much the entire time I was there.

So many photos

San Sebastián is a relatively small beach town close to the French border on Spain's north coast. I was there for 3 days with this lot;




As I said, it's a small town and the main attraction is the beach which was a little less appealing in the rain so we didn't do a lot but that was fine. This was the last time I'd see the friends I'd most of the friends I'd made in Madrid (until we got back to Sydney because of course I moved to Spain to make friends with Sydneysiders) so it was a bitter sweet occasion. Of course, the promise/threat of an Australian reunion in three months made it a lot easier.


Our time in San Sebastián consisted mainly of eating Pinxtos (pronounced pinch-ohs, basically Basque tapas but everything has a toothpick in it), watching movies and playing cards in our Airbnb. We did go for a wander when the weather cleared and climbed to the top of the nearby hill, adorned with a big Jesus (or Jesús, in Spain) statue.


After going our separate ways, I decided to move west to Bilbao. I had no idea what was in Bilbao except for the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, the sister museum to the famous art gallery in New York. Andy and Malia came to Bilbao to check out the Guggenheim as well. The museum is an incredible building, designed by Frank Gehry and built entirely without straight lines. The museum itself is a piece of modern art but the works inside are equally impressive. I'm not an art guy by any stretch but I really enjoyed spending an afternoon checking it out.




The rest of Bilbao was actually really cool. There are three things people in Bilbao are fiercely passionate and proud of; their Basque heritage, the river that runs through the middle of the city and the many, many bridges that go across this river.


I spent the next morning wandering around Bilbao and, although it's not a large city, it's really cool. It felt like the city had really made an effort to maintain its feel as an old city but every now and then there would be some statue or building or design that seemed more in keeping with the design of the Guggenheim. Instead of seeming eclectic, the two styles actually seemed to compliment each other.


That afternoon I caught a Blablacar (with a guy named Jesús) to Pamplona, famous as the site of the running of the bulls (although I was two months early). Pamplona seemed a nice, clean little town but I didn't have much time to explore it.





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