Post Pic


The triumphant return of gelato flavors of the day: for me it was a bit of a departure from my cafe safe-zone. I tried a queso, which I would compare favorably to cheesecake only more tangy, and a rice pudding, which was very good. Irene had cocunt and whiskey which she reports as bieng “tasty”.

Our time in Bilbao was brief but sufficient. We rolled into town in the afternoon and, after a brief respite at our hotel, set out for a stroll around the old town. We stopped into a bar for pintxos and a caña (small beer) and then more strolling. We came across an unexpected bagpipe band which had the whole street singing. We had dinner at a local bar and then to bed.

The next morning found us early at the Guggenheim, Gehry’s architectual masterpiece, in what was clearly Seattle weather sent here to cool us off and remind us of what we’ve missing back home. The current exhibits were a Rosseau collection, which demonstrated that he is known despite his lack of skill as a draftsman, and Rauschenberg who is known for reasons that entirely escape me.

We did both, however, enjoy the works of Anish Kapur. Creator of the Magic Bean in Chicago (or as it is officially known, Cloud Gate). One installation that was a lot of fun was a big air cannon that would shoot buckets of red wax against the corner. Every so often a man would enter the room, load up the cannon and, with a loud bang, fire. He would then exit the room where he would joke with the guards about his aim.

We bused it from Bilbao to San Sebastian in the afternoon. Not much to say about San Seb. It’s a pretty little city on the Bay of Biscane and we spent a pretty lazy day there hanging out by the beach and generally just resting. Oh yeah, we did have some ice cream (see above).

Today we hopped the commuter train to French Basque country in the guise of St-Jean-de-Luz. I tried to make the switch to French seamlessly but outed with a few “si”s and “dos”s and “gracias”s. The woman behind the ticket counter laughed at me.

All day I would revert to Spanish. After two and a half weeks of “gracias” I’m running on autopilot. When we get back to Spain I’ll probably say “merci”. Oy.

When we arrived St-Jean was a quiet, sleepy little town but by late in the afternoon it was alive with tourists.

Tuesday is market day, and for my money French markets are the best in Europe by a wide margin. We were seduced right away by a stinky cheese vendor and picked up a wedge of soft Brie-like goat cheese. And once we had that we had to pick up some meat (chorizo), bread (some kind of corn bread with sunflower seeds), fruit (strawberries) and dessert (gâteau de basque with a cream center). Picnic by the beach? Yes!

There’s not a whole lot to see of St-Jean so we spent a good deal of time hanging out in cafés drinking wine (or in Irene’s case, Kir and wine). During our second café stop we were driven inside when the sky that had been threatening all day finally opened up.

Due to a slight mix up about the bus schedule, no need to apportion blame, we were darting from awning to overhang on a soppy dash to the bus station. Fortunately we could take a bus to Hendaye and from there catch a train back to San Sebastian. Where it was also drizzling.

We catch a late night train to Salamanca tonight were we will get in way too early for anything to actually be open. Not sure what we are going to do when we get there. No baggage check in the train station, only in the bus station which is nowhere near by. Should be fun. I’ll let you know what happens.

Tags: , , ,

Posted in France, Journal Entry, Spain | No Comments