Monday, August 15, 2011

España Part Tres: The Basque Country

Last stop on the tour de España, the Basque country.  This is the region of Spain that inspired Picasso's Guernica (above) depicting Franco's destruction of the Basque city Guernica.  It is on display at the Sophia Reina museum in Madrid and definitely worth a visit.

We said goodbye to the bull fights and tinto verano of Sevilla and hello to the nice cool northern coast.  We cut up the eleven hour drive by stopping over in Salamanca, a bustling city full of young people and great prices.  We had some of our favorite tapas in Salamanca, which is one of the few Spanish cities that still gives a free tapa for every drink ordered.  We were elated with our 10 Euro dinner for two - four beers and four small plates grilled to order.   

And of course, another gorgeous cathedral. 

After a good night sleep in Salamanca, we hopped in the car and continued north.  Final destination, the Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian.  Rick (Steves) suggested making San Sebastian or Saint Jean de Luz the home base for exploring the area and we chose San Sebastian because it is a bit bigger.  However, after a day in Saint Jean de Luz we realized that if we were to do it over again we would probably stay there instead, simply because it is smaller and easier to navigate.  Nonetheless, we enjoyed our stay in San Sebastian as well.  The culinary capital of Spain made for great tapas crawls. 

Every one of the tapas bars was packed with people.  You can see above how everyone just spilled onto the streets. Ask the Mr. about his experience with Oreja (ear of a yet to be determined animal).  Yum.

Of course we loved the picturesque bay surrounded by mountains, but we missed all of the outdoor cafes and inexpensive lounge chairs of Nerja. Luckily, the camera blurs out most of the people behind me here, otherwise this photo would not be blog friendly (bathing suit tops are optional... for all ages). 

It was finally time to say goodbye to España.  We are so thankful to have had such a great trip and we will never forget our adventures here.  In total we spent over 48 hours on the road (a good portion of which where we had no idea where we were going), at least 2 hours arguing over the who had to carry the Rick Steves' book and countless moments soaking in a new and fascinating culture. Instead of saying goodbye, we'll say see you later España.  Thanks for a great summer!

Here is Rick's suggested itinerary for a three week trip through Spain. We made a few adjustments but followed his general suggestions.  Happy travels! 

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