North from Lisbon

Having bid farewell to both Michael’s parents and then Tiffany, on April 23 Michael and I found ourselves on our own again for the first time in almost a month. And for the first time in almost a month, we were back to the by-the-seat-of-our-pants routine of figuring out each day our plans for the next, rather than planning out an itinerary ahead of time. Determined to get into the outdoors, we bought a book on wild spots and hikes in Portugal, and set our sights on optimizing for opportunities to hike and bike.

But first we opted to spend two more nights in Lisbon, catching up on work and laundry and planning for the summer but also fitting in some exploration (including yet another modern art museum – hear that, Mom?). We strolled sunny waterfronts, broad pedestrianized shopping boulevards, and winding narrow alleys emblazoned with graffiti, and found ourselves admiring the ubiquitous tiles on every apartment building, the adorable miniature tram cars, and the amazing views from Lisbon’s many hills. We ate some unusual but delicious sugary croissants, had octopus and tempura green beans in an upscale food market, and had one of the best meals of our trip at the unassuming bar around the corner from our apartment, where we ate mixed grill and roast lamb while watching a great soccer match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. I’d be the first to admit that we didn’t explore everything Lisbon had to offer, but we had a lovely few days there nonetheless.

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From Lisbon we headed west along the coast to Cascais, where various guides told us there would be free bicycles and an oceanfront cycle path. Unfortunately, the bikes had stopped being free back in November, but they were inexpensive and we hopped on for two hours of riding along the coast to a windy but beautiful beach along striking sand dunes.

The town of Cascais had a few beautiful mansions:

We then traded the bicycles for our car and drove north to the tiny town of Atouguia da Baleia, a few miles inland of the coast near Peniche, where we had found an inexpensive guesthouse in a town previouslyimg_1647.jpg known for its whale hunting but mostly chosen for being the direction we were headed. The owner pointed us to a delicious and inexpensive seafood restaurant where my squid ink linguine was packed with delicious seafood in a garlicky tomato sauce – superb!

From Peniche we headed for the hiking destination of Lousã, smack dab in the center of the Serra (hills) of Lousã, complete with castle and abandoned stone villages. But the drive is part of the journey, so we took the scenic route. We stopped first in Obidos, a renowned town with medieval walls and a restored castle surrounding a core of beautiful white homes decorated with roses, bougainvillea, and of course tiles. Its beauty is not undiscovered, and the town was crawling with tourists, but they mostly belonged to the 65+ tour bus crowd and we could escape them easily by climbing the steep alleyways to side streets with peekaboo views of the castle. We stumbled into a little bookshop in what used to be a church, and capped off our visit with a walk on the ramparts themselves, with great views back over town and a remarkable lack of concern for details like safety railings.

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The castle of Obidos:
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Our midday stop was at the castle of Almourol, perched on an island in the middle of the Tejo River at what was once the frontier between Christendom and the Moors. We ended up deciding not to take the boat trip to the island (nor wade across the ten-foot-wide strip of water between shore and castle) so it was slightly less exciting than we had hoped, but a beautiful castle nonetheless.

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And on the way to Lousã we made one final stop at the Fragas de Sao Simao, a river beach (“praia fluvial”) that turned out to be one of many in a very popular Portuguese genre but which was especially awesome for its setting deep in a steep rocky ravine.

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At last in Lousã, we spent our day on a wonderful long hike to several of the aldeias de xisto, long abandoned villages built from schist, a slate-like laminar rock. We had the forested trails to ourselves and the scenery was beautiful.

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The highlight, however, was our unanticipated hiking companion: an adorable and friendly dog named Branquinha (as we read from her collar) who decided to follow us and then hiked ahead of us for nearly three hours, eagerly barking and running ahead to explore the trail. We loved her company – and it also led to three different wild boar encounters, including one with a mother and her three little piglets just off the trail, giving us a great view of our first wild boar! Luckily we all emerged unharmed, and in the end we managed to return Branquinha to her owners, who seem to have a habit of letting her wander with hikers!

After a nine-hour hike, we were plum tuckered out – so I’ll catch you up on more of our adventures later!

Portugal’s UNESCO Heritage sites: a Tiffany-inspired tour

So I mentioned in the last post that Michael did the planning for our four-day whirlwind adventure with Tiffany, but she did insist on one thing: that our trip involve at least one of the UNESCO-listed cities of Sintra and Evora. (As it turned out, Toledo, Cáceres, and Mérida are all UNESCO-listed as well so we had quite the star-studded city tour. So much history in this part of the world!)

From Monsaraz we thus headed to Évora, Portugal, a small town with a little of everything: Renaissance palaces, ruins of Roman baths and a Roman temple, an aqueduct of renown, an impressive cathedral, and a university founded in 1559 but later shut down when the Jesuits fell out of favor and not reopened until 1973. Somehow the amazing tile work in the university survived, and we toured through classrooms still used for Physics 101 but lined with tile depictions of Roman and Greek heroes, battles, and other major events.

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We all climbed to the roof of the cathedral for amazing views, and wandered the halls of its fabulous cloister. On the way out of town, Michael and Tiffany visited the (creepy) Chapel of Bones, with the remains of 5000 monks, while I stopped by the municipal park where peacocks wandered among the ruins.

We lingered in Évora slightly longer than intended, so we took the toll roads to Lisbon so that we could get the keys to our Airbnb before its owners left for the long weekend. Our apartment in Belem was perfect for us: cozy and comfortable, with lots of free parking and the very same IKEA couch that Michael and I have at home! We took advantage of the shared living room to do more cryptic crosswords and plan for Tiffany’s last day: an outing to Sintra in the morning, followed by some time in Lisbon in the afternoon.

Sintra, a town nestled in the verdant hills above Lisbon, was a favorite spot of many monarchs and other affluent families, who built summer palaces there to escape the heat. And by palaces I really mean it – some of these constructions have fairytale turrets, or, in the case of the one we visited, fantastical gardens of grottos and underground passages to complement its eclectic architecture.

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From the town of Sintra we could see the Moorish castle perched high on the rocks above. Its scale was greater than anything we had expected, and Michael and I just couldn’t resist the temptation to climb up. So we left Tiffany to explore Sintra a little on her own and hiked up a well-maintained trail to the castle, paying the admission fee to explore the walls and enjoy the views out to the coast, back to Lisbon, down into Sintra, and across to neighboring estates. The castle was more full of tourists than any other we’d seen, but the views were simply stunning.

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We spent one last afternoon back in Lisbon, with cocktails at an upscale bar and a tapas dinner on the square, before Tiffany had to pack her bags and head back to Seattle.

We packed a lot into our four days together! Thanks for coming, Tiffany!

Spanning the Portugal border with Tiffany

No sooner had we dropped Gretchen and Frank off in Madrid than we met up with our friend Tiffany, who had a whirlwind four days to spend with us before traveling back to the US after a week in the UK. Michael had spent a day in Barcelona planning our adventure: from Madrid to the hilltop castle town of Oropesa in western Spain, then onward to Portugal, with a night in a rural hotel and then two nights in an Airbnb in Lisbon. Tiffany and I, having participated only minimally in the planning, were in for a real treat.

With time to spare en route to Oropesa, we stopped for a few hours in Toledo for lunch and a stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets. Tourists thronged the cathedral plaza, but we had many of the winding streets to ourselves and enjoyed fabulous views across the plains below.

After a lovely night in Oropesa at a small casa rural with our own private courtyard patio and churros and hot chocolate for breakfast, we drove to Cáceres, highlighted in our (excellent) Michelin Green Guide as of exceptional interest, and a UNESCO world heritage site. Its dozens of 17th century mansions had been perfectly preserved, with coats of arms and other carvings at every turn, and we happened to arrive on a special day where reenactors in period costume entertained large groups of eight-year-olds with stories and activities. Tiffany and I paid one euro each to enjoy the panoramic views from one of the church towers, Michael led us through a walking tour, and we ended with one of our best lunches of the trip, with a fabulous charcuterie platter, goat cheese salad, salmorejo (a cousin of gazpacho), and chocolate mousse decorated with caramel tuile.

From Cáceres we headed to Mérida, highlighted on our map for its Roman ruins. A fortuitous wrong turn led us to enter town directly under an impressive Roman aqueduct, which we returned to on foot after finding a parking garage. Its scale was astounding – as was the number of storks who had built nests on each of its remaining towers! Our walk along the river led us to a second, later, aqueduct, and then to the Roman baths, circus, and on the other side of town to the longest surviving Roman bridge in the world, a Moorish fortress, and one more Roman temple. We could have paid $12 to see the Roman amphitheater and theater, but deemed our quota of Roman ruins sufficient for the day – so impressive!

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From Mérida we drove across the border to Portugal, stopping for yet another amazing aqueduct in Elvas before driving through beautiful countryside to our rural hotel, the Horta da Moura outside the town of Monsaraz. It turned out – unbeknownst to any of us – that Monsaraz had an amazing castle and gorgeous white houses on its cobblestone streets, so after watching a lovely sunset and having a delicious dinner in town, we returned the next morning to scramble up the castle walls and enjoy the panoramic vistas of the countryside and across the border back into Spain.

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Roman ruins, castles, Renaissance palaces, storks, churros, and aqueducts: not bad for the first two days of our adventure with Tiffany!

Wrapping up Spain with the Millers

I’m so far behind on the blog that I considered declaring bankruptcy and just skipping the last two weeks, but we have gone to so many amazing places that I just couldn’t omit them. So from here on out we’ll be heavy on the photos, light on the commentary.

Zaragoza: lovely in the evening, plus Easter week festivities in the middle of the night and a morning at the Moorish palace of the Aljaferia, now the Aragonese parliament. Oh, and a really tasty chorizo sandwich for a $1.20 breakfast at the market full of old women shopping for Easter dinner ingredients.

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Barcelona: lovely but filled to the brim with tourists. We’d spent a week in Barcelona in 2011, so we had a relaxing few days walking around the amazing modernist architecture of the Eixample and doing some travel planning in between eating tasty meals. The most memorable involved striking up a conversation with the two men at the neighboring table, who turned out to be sailing captains in a training class before sailing to Ibiza and Mallorca respectively. We ended the evening with shots of aguardiente all around! For those who haven’t visited Barcelona yet, here are a few highlight photos from our last visit — we took no photos this time!

From Barcelona we headed to Can Boix, a hotel in the foothills of the Pyrenees where I had spent many summers as a kid while my geologist dad did fieldwork. Since my last visit was at the age of six, my memories of the place revolved around the swimming pool and soccer field, but on this return visit I realized what a beautiful place it really is. Nestled into a valley lined by amazing rock formations, Can Boix now has a renowned chef and printed leaflets for all the surrounding hiking trails, plus fabulous views from the terrace of our room. We spent two and a half days there and I spent twelve hours hiking as well as joining the Millers for Easter mass and a drive up the valley to the county seat, only a few miles from Andorra, where we watched world-class kayakers practice on the 1992 Olympic kayaking course.

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Driving south from Can Boix, we referred carefully to my map of castles and made a quick stop at the Castell de Montsonís for lovely views over the valley and then a longer tour at the Castello de Loarre, whose name is reminiscent of its more famous cousins in France, but which is a medieval fortress instead of the plush luxury palaces of the Loire.

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After an overnight stop in Zaragoza (great views of the basilica and old stone bridge, followed by freshly fried croquettes and tempura onion in Roquefort sauce at an upscale food court), we embellished our final day of driving with not only Roman ruins and two monasteries but also a set of ruins labeled only on our map as “ciclopeas,” which turned out to mean Neolithic ruins made of large stones on a dusty dirt road.

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And for our final night with Gretchen and Frank, Michael booked us into a 12th century castle restored in 1975 to become a parador, one of a government-run chain of upscale hotels. Did you hear that? We stayed in ANOTHER CASTLE!!

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And then – sadly – we had to bid farewell to Gretchen and Frank, leaving them at a hotel next to the Madrid airport and dropping off our trusty rental car. They flew to Atlanta and we headed to the Avis rental car counter to pick up rental car #2 and our friend Tiffany, who’d flown in from London for a four-day whirlwind visit! But that’s for the next blog post.

One farewell photo of the four of us:

P1070946See how much fun it is to come visit us??! Feel free to join us on another leg of our journey … just let me know when you’re free and we’ll make it work!

 

From San Sebastián to Zaragoza

Today (I’m finally catching up on the blog!) was full of fabulous surprises. Since our drive was only three hours long, we had a leisurely start to the day and planned to stop for a visit in the town of Olite, which we’d read had a nice royal palace, on the way to Zaragoza, which we’d chosen mostly as a halfway point between the Basque coast and Barcelona.

Turns out that the castle, built in the 1400s, is more of a fairytale castle than any I’ve ever seen. Bedecked with turrets galore, a gorgeous courtyard with a hanging garden and blossoming fruit tree, and free rein to explore various ramparts and towers, the castle was like a dream come true.

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Around every corner was a new vista: the king’s gallery, looking out on his mulberry tree (itself a national treasure); a cylindrical watchtower rising out of a square one below it; ivy climbing the walls of the perfect turrets. Sure, it was restored in the 1930s, but it retained much of its charm in a way that not all restored castles can manage. Those turrets!

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On the audiotour of the castle we also heard about the town of Ujué, at an altitude of 2400 feet and the home to watchtowers to warn the kings of Navarra of potential invaders. Since we could see the spires of its fortress on the horizon, we decided to detour through the medieval village – and what a spot it commanded, perched high on a hilltop with 360-degree views of the Pyrenees and the valleys on either side.

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From Ujué we took a quiet country road to Zaragoza, hugging the hilltops and then descending into a long valley. Along the way we happened upon a pair of castles perched on a striated sandstone mesa, marked nowhere on our map and with no indication of their heritage! How can castles this amazing not even be marked on the map??

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And Zaragoza! We’d not expected too much, probably a nice old church as in most cities in Spain. But we drove into town to the sight of incredible tiled domes at the huge basilica in town, a converted mosque from the 12th century, and as we checked into our hotel we learned that this town takes Semana Santa (Easter week) incredibly seriously: six different parades are scheduled for tonight, two of which will wrap up at the square in front of our hotel at 1am! So we may not get much sleep, but we also got to see the citizens in costume getting ready for the processions, and the town is hopping.

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Tomorrow we hope to go see the Aljafería, a fortified medieval Islamic palace unique in this part of Spain and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Spain continues to be full of surprises – it’s not only the places we plan to visit that turn out to be amazing, but the unexpected little towns and even unheralded big cities that win our hearts!

San Sebastián

In many of the places we’ve visited, it’s the stunning sights that really grab my attention, and as I look at my photos I realize all over again how beautiful the places we visited really were.

But in the case of San Sebastián, it was really the food that stole the show. The town itself is beautiful – right on the beach, with a huge stretch of sand and a lovely medieval core – but what won our hearts was our seriously delicious meals, from the taberna around the corner from our hotel to the bustling pintxos bar out in Hondarribia, where we went for a day trip. We feasted on calamari, foie gras, and goat cheese – but even simple dishes like meatballs in tomato sauce and chorizo sandwiches came out absolutely delicious. The dish below was among the most elaborate, arroz negro with aioli, squid, and foie gras, topped with a slice of squid-ink-infused toast!

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We only had a day in San Sebastián and its area, but we took a half-day trip out to Hondarribia, a port on the border with France that has a charming old town and a fishing village area with dozens of pintxos restaurants, each filled to the brim with dozens of patrons enjoying the beautiful sunny day (and aforementioned incredibly tasty food). The town was very cute and the seaside beautiful.

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We took the scenic route back to San Sebastián, hugging the ridgeline on a narrow road with spectacular views back down to San Sebastián and down to the coast.

Back in town, Michael and I headed down to the beach and old town area, which reminded us of San Francisco as the fog rolled in and the temperature dropped by 20 degrees. Only the scenery and architecture were a little different!

Mmm, San Sebastián. May we eat more of your warm squid salad and ham-and-green-pepper bocadillos before too long.

Castles, walled villages, and biking: oh my!

I admit that when I heard our trip included a visit to the Rioja, Spain’s major wine region, and that Michael’s mom had booked us for two winery tours with tastings, I was pretty ambivalent. I’m far from a wine connoisseur and am happy to keep it that way. But when we started to wind down the road into the Rioja valley, I remembered why I’d loved biking in Napa: wine regions often go hand-in-hand with gorgeous scenery, and in Spain, with a long and rich history leading to dozens of tiny hamlets perched on small hills, each with their own church and many with a castle for defense.

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The views as we drove down into the valley were stunning:

IMG_1985We started with a tour and tasting at Bodegas Ysios, a winery whose undulating form was designed by Santiago Calatrava but whose tour was firmly focused on the winemaking rather than the striking building design.

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After the tour we checked into our CASTLE HOTEL in Laguardia. Gretchen had booked the hotel originally but was worried it would be too inconvenient, perched on a hilltop with no parking lot. I, of course, was enchanted by the idea of staying in a castle, and assuaged her fears. (We found parking just a hundred feet from our door.)

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The receptionist told us that we were welcome to climb the tower at any time we wanted for its panoramic views of the whole valley. So I did – five times, to get the midday, sunset, night, sunrise, and morning views. Oh, and here’s one more picture of the Bodegas Ysios too.

Our leisurely lunch (menú del dia for $13 each, including a bottle of wine to share, paella and roast lamb, arroz con leche and cheesecake) ended at 4:45pm, giving us just enough time to stop into the tourist office and learn that the famed animated clock on the Laguardia town hall would dance at 5pm! Gretchen, Michael, and I gathered in the town square to watch the clock dance, which turned out to be rather anticlimactic.

We then struck out for a driving tour of a handful of the nearby towns, starting with the Frank Gehry-designed winery and hotel Marques de Riscal, which turned out to be right in the town of Elciego rather than out in the countryside. Its undulating purple and titanium roofs formed quite a contrast with the stone buildings of the old town.

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Things just got better from there. I’d read a blog about a ruined 12th century castle on a nearby hilltop and Michael (together with Google maps) managed to navigate us there along incredibly narrow country lanes that led to a nicely curated parking lot with picnic tables and a castle we could explore on our own!

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From the castle we had amazing views of dozens of tiny hamlets with hilltop churches and castles.

We circled through Briones and San Vicente de la Sonsierra, two nearby hilltop towns, and walked up to the town castle of San Vicente shortly before sunset, enjoying the views and the shadows the castle made on the nearby vineyards.

And the following morning we managed to rent two high-quality mountain bikes from a local hotel, as well as procure a large-scale topographic map of the area, and set out on a fabulous bike ride through rolling terrain to four different prehistoric sites, including 6000-year-old dolmens and a pre-Roman settlement that had been occupied from 1250 – 250 BC before being burned down on market day (which the archeologists could ascertain because of the pots full of goods set out on the sidewalks and the pigs, hobbled for sale). Archeology is pretty cool. Oh, and the scenery wasn’t bad either. The weather was also perfect – cool but sunny!

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A sampling of the prehistoric sites:

We even had a great stopover on our way into wine region, with forty-five minutes walking around Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of one of the Basque provinces and with a cute old town atop a classic town square, plus some street art:

What a fabulous 24 hours in the Rioja valley! This stone, prominently visible at the end of the chain of mountains, is called El Castillo (“the castle”). I thought it was pretty cool.

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And with that, it was off to San Sebastián!

Burgos y Bilbao

After cramming all four of us and our gear into our rental car, we left Madrid on Wednesday morning for the drive to Bilbao. Having spent nearly an hour in map and travel stores in Madrid to obtain a detailed driving atlas, an overall map of Spain and Portugal, and the indispensable Green Guide to Spain, Michael and I had planned out a route to Bilbao taking us through Burgos, the capital of Castile for 500 years in the 11th to 15th centuries and home to an amazing cathedral.

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We had a creative gastronomic lunch before our tour, with blood sausage, wonton wrappers stuffed with langoustines, and udon with mushroom broth and seaweed – not our usual Spanish fare! And then we donned our audioguides and warm coats and headed into the cathedral, where it was very cold but where I was nonetheless amazed by the variety of vaulted ceilings as well as the ornate carvings and the dozen or more side chapels with beautiful cupolas:

After a break for hot chocolate and churros ad and a walk through the ornately carved gate from the old walls into town, we drove up to a mirador (viewpoint) over town for another perspective on the cathedral, and also of a stork building its nest nearby:

And then piled back into the car for the drive to Bilbao, where we ended up having dinner at a local hamburger place where all the locals gathered to watch soccer and where the burgers came with toppings like foie and bacon or gorgonzola and semi-dried tomatoes.

The following morning we had tickets to the Guggenheim, which was all it was cracked up to be: full of amazing architecture and with a stunning display of modern art. I probably took 50 photos of the curved interiors and loved the way each surface bent around impossibly to form a myriad of different views inside and out.

After a quick lunch near the museum, we hopped on the metro to the seaside district of Getxo, an old fishing village that also happened to be the home of many of the richest men in Spain around the turn of the 20th century, and who built a succession of mansions on the waterfront in all sorts of different styles. The old fishing village was charming and the waterfront walkway beautiful.

After Gretchen and Frank headed back on the metro to Bilbao, Michael and I walked further to see the sole UNESCO world heritage site in Spanish Basque country: the puente colgante (hanging bridge) connecting Getxo with Portugalete, across the mouth of the Nervion river. I thought puente colgante just meant suspension bridge, but it turned out to be a crazy cross between a ferry and a gondola, wherein a trolley-car-like hanging capsule large enough to contain a half-dozen cars is suspended beneath the bridge itself and just above the water level! It was crazy. In the picture below, you can see the car about halfway across!

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We took the speedy, inexpensive metro back into Bilbao for a walk through downtown, stopping at the headquarters of the local health organization with its striking architecture and then at a beer & cheese store that impressed Michael with its large collection of Basque IPAs. Don’t you love the reflections in the various panes of the building below?

On our walk back to the hotel, we noticed both a lot of people wearing running-style bibs saying “Korrika: Bat Zuk” and a poster for some kind of race from March 30 to April 9. A few blocks later, crowds of people were waiting along the sides of a road, so we asked one of the people waiting what was going on, and it turns out that every other year there is a 10-day relay race through all of Basque country wherein thousands of people run for as little as 10 feet or as much as several miles to raise funds for more Basque language education for adults in the area (and presumably to reinforce a sense of unity). We stood and watched as two thousand runners of all abilities jogged by in a dense crowd, and the bib-clad around us jumped out to join in and run through the main street of Bilbao! We later looked up more information and found the map of its circuitous route (2700km) through Basque Country and Bilbao:

We concluded our day with a walk through the old town with its charming medieval streets and crowds pouring out of bars all evening. All day we listened to conversations around us and learned that most of the residents, even the older ones, seem to speak Spanish rather than Basque, even though all the signs are in both languages (or occasionally only in Basque!).

One last panorama of the waterfront at Getxo and I’ll leave you for next time!

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Cultura y comida: Madrid

We loved our time in Sweden, and we ate some very tasty meals, mostly related in some way to herring or to bulle, the cardamom-infused and ubiquitous cinnamon roll. But when we arrived in Madrid, we just couldn’t believe our luck. We had only to cross the street to arrive at the Mercado de San Miguel, packed to the gills with tostadas of burrata, croquettes of jamon serrano, paper cones of cured meat, and platters of grilled octopus. As one might imagine, the better renditions of these dishes were elsewhere, but perusing the market on our first afternoon told us definitively that we’d arrived in Spain, with oodles of delicious food at bargain-basement prices. I was (and continue to be) in gourmet heaven.

But Madrid isn’t just a haven for tasty chorizo. We spent our first evening at the Prado, the second at the Centro del Arte Reina Sofia, and the third watching a flamenco performance, while during the day we visited Madrid’s third major art museum, the unpronounceable but awesome Thyssen-Bornemisza, and toured the gilded rooms of the royal palace, the largest in Europe and full of embroidered wallpaper, gilded mirrors, stunning ceiling frescoes, and groups of adorable uniformed schoolchildren learning about the royal past.

The exterior of the royal palace:

Photography was banned in most of the interior, but the entrance staircase gives you an idea of the grandiose decor within:

Oh, and in case you’re wondering who those extra people are, it’s Michael’s parents, who are visiting us in Spain for two and a half weeks! Gretchen planned our whole itinerary and we are LOVING not having to figure out the next step of our trip each evening! Not to mention having company other than ourselves to talk to, and with whom to share churros and tapas.

A selection of my favorite artworks. I never would have guessed the second was by Georgia O’Keeffe! I also ended up having my own private tour of the Reina Sofia collection; since I was the only visitor to come to the 7:30pm tour, Luis gave me a personal tour (in Spanish) introducing the museum and modern Spanish art. I usually don’t do museum tours, but I loved learning more about the context and also getting to practice my Spanish.

And if art, history, and flamenco weren’t enough culture, we of course spent our days strolling the streets, watching impeccably dressed and coiffed old women walking arm in arm and admiring the buildings and the street life (as well as its much-delayed hours: the local bakery didn’t open until 9:30am, we learned that 1pm still counts as morning, and we’ve finished our lunches as late as 4:45pm!).

I loved the tiled facades on many of the bars:

We also marveled at the colorful ceilings in the Catedral Almudena:

I leave you with a few street scenes: