This week, we went to the north, to Basque Country, where it was green and mountainous like the Spanish version of Switzerland. Actually, maybe more like the mountains of Austria where Maria could hear the sound of music. Needless to say, it was beautiful!
We stayed in San Sebastián, a city right on the beach that had all of the signs in Basque as well as in Spanish. It was pretty impressive, especially since our hotel was found on the top of the cliffs overlooking the sea. We had to take this fun cable car down the mountain in order to reach the city. That was so fun. The beach was so nice even if it was cloudy and cold outside. We hiked up another hill to the ruins of a castle overlooking the city from another angle. You know, as fun as it is to see old cathedrals, there is nothing that excites me more than a ruined castle. It takes me back to my childhood when TJ, Josh, and I climbed all over the ruins of Kenilworth and Tintagel. Anywho, it was magical, even if we weren’t able to go inside because we got there one minute after the last tour started. Guys, I want a castle.
Something else that was awesome about San Sebastián was the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. It was big and dark like other cathedrals, but it was simpler and instead of having the crucified Christ as the main statue, it was a statue of Christ with a sheep. It was so beautiful. I also learned that as long as there is a little bit of light outside, the stained-glass windows will capture it.
Thursday, we crossed the border to France to San Juan de Luz, singing Les Miserables with mucho ánimo as they say in Spanish. It is a much smaller sea town but it has some historical significance because it was where the French and the Spanish signed a peace treaty. Plus, Louis XIV married la Infanta (Spanish princess) there in a little church which we visited. But mainly we went there to eat crepes and chocolate. After spending so much time in this tiny town where we didn’t understand anything, we were all so happy to find out that the woman at the chocolate shop spoke Spanish… and she had lots of samples. GOOD DAY!
Friday we left San Sebastián for Burgos. It’s this city in the countryside surrounded by little villages and pastures. It felt very different from any other town we have visited in Spain probably because it is so isolated. What is its claim to fame? El Cid, the most important hero in Spanish history, is buried there and he had a lot to do with that city. When he was exiled from Castilla and Leon, he left his wife and children at a monastery outside of the city. We went there and had a tour given by a monk who was wearing slippers! It was really cool to see how the monastery worked and all of the art there.
Other adventures: We went to Santo Domingo de Silos to hear the monks sing Gregorian chants. That was absolutely incredible. They even sang the Magnificat. It really was a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Carissa and I hiked to the ruins of the castle in Burgos. It wasn’t open but we were able to walk around it and get a feel for how it was. After having a poor dinner experience on Friday, we were a little wary of finding food for lunch on Saturday. However, we stopped at a bakery which had great sandwiches and delicious ice cream. I will say this about the Spanish though, they sure do love their meat. I asked for a vegetable sandwich and it had tuna in it. Only in Spain! There was a book fair that was pretty cool, plus it included a carousel that brought out the children in us. It really doesn’t take much. And I shouldn’t forget to mention all of the enlightening conversations we had with Profe about bold (bald zebras) and how to say “gallivanting” in Spanish. We sure do know how to have a good time!
Here’s to another week of Spanish fun and gallivanting!