19 November 2015

Road Trip in Spain - Day 4 - On our way to San Sebastian

Between Bilbao and San Sebastian there's a lot to see, but since this was an express trip we only saw three places: Butrón Castle, Ermita San Juan de Gaztelugatxe y Guernica.

Butrón Castle

Butrón Castle is a fraud, but such a beautiful one that we didn´t regret going there. When we were researching on what to see on our way to San Sebastián we saw the pictures of this place and was like "we have to go there" but only when we got there we actually read about it.

This castle was built on the XIX century around a medieval tower as a result of the eccentricities of Marques de Cubas. He wanted a Bavarian style kind of castle and because in that area castles are quite different, architecturally speaking, he just went and built his own fantasy place. It's a private place, on sale now actually, so we couldn´t go inside. If it's a must go? Honestly I don´t think so, but that Mr. Cubas did a very pretty place there, that he did.

Ermita San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

This Hermitage, of the 5th Century, is an islet on the Basque Coast connected to the Continent by a small bridge. Seeing it on photos it seemed easier to visit than it is and less crowded as well. 

From the parking next to the national road that links Bormeo to Baquio, one has to go all the way down to the ocean on a very steep path, cross the little bridge over the ocean and then up 241 steps to the hermitage. We just got till halfway, first because we went at lunch time and had no idea of the time and effort that was needed to visit it and we were hungry, second because there was so many people that half of the mysticism of the place was lost anyway. We went on high season, I'm sure it´s more quiet in low season.

Guernica

When I was 12 years old, Guernica was a familiar word to me, but only when I saw Picasso's painting at my friend Daniela's house I started to connect a story to it. 23 years later I went to the epicentre of the fateful events.

Guernica is a small town in Basque Country which was bombed in 1937 by German and Italian warplanes. Why German and Italians? Because the dictator Franco was a supporter of both, Hitler and Mussolini, and Guernica was believed to be the centre of the Republican resistance in Spain. Picasso immortalised this terrible genocide on a huge painting that can be seen today in Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.
A few buildings of the town survived the bombings and one of them is the Casa de Juntas and the Guernica Tree. This place is very emblematic of Basque history, because it was here that the politicians would meet and it's said to be here where it was decided that Basque Country should be independent.
If you go there, we recommend you to get lost, to go wherever your feet take you, because it's a small place with many interesting sites to discover.

Next week I'll tell you my experience in San Sebastian and how we discovered a lovely little vilage on the border with France.


10 November 2015

Road trip in Spain - Day 3 - Bilbao

As I said on the last post, everyone told me that Bilbao wasn't very interesting, nevertheless I liked it a lot, not only the city itself but the surrounding area as well.
I guess I can understand why people might not feel the appeal, it's grey and industrial and most of the times cloudy, but that gives it it's charm. Bilbao has a bit of the London mood and who doesn't love London?! Well, I do!

Bizkaia Pais Vasco


Bilbao

If you think about Bilbao I'm sure the first thing that comes to your mind is Guggenheim Museum and for a reason, it's an amazing building from Frank Gehry that hosts exhibitions from the greatest artists. When I was there they had two exhibitions, one from Jeff Koons and the other one from Jean-Michel Basquiat. I know, right?! How lucky can a girl be?! I was blown away by the museum and I highly recommend it!
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The neighbourhood around it has wide streets and avenues flanked by all kinds of shops and the main brands are all here. And it was here that I introduced my family to the famous basque tapas, los pinchos. If you read the post about Pamplona you already know how much I love pinchos and by the end of the dinner I was not the only pinchos fan club member anymore.

 Pinchos Bilbao
Bilbao Street art
Bilbao has a lovely old town and we managed to find the square where all the pinchos bars are, so we went for it again. The cool thing about pinchos is that most of the places have their own "recipes" so you'll hardly repeat the same things.
Bilbao
Los Arcos Bilbao
Bilbao
Bilbao
Pinchos Bilbao
When in the Bilbao area, it's worth a visit to the Viscaya bridge, also known as the hanging bridge. It was built in 1893 and designed by one of Eiffel's disciples called  Alberto Palacio and it connects the towns of Portugalete and Las Arenas. If this engineering project seemed quite futuristic to me I can only imagine how amazing it must have seemed to the XIX century people. 
If any excuse was needed to cross the Nervion river by bridge, I can give you two, the promenades on each side of the river banks are a very pretty walk.
Portugalete
Portugalete
Portugalete
Puente Colgante Vizcaya
Puente Colgante Vizcaya
Puente Colgante Vizcaya
Las Arenas
Las Arenas
Las Arenas
Portugalete

Fourth day of this road trip coming soon. What we visited on our way to San Sebastian.

26 October 2015

Road trip in Spain - Day 2 - Burgos and Vitoria


On the second day of our road trip in Spain this summer we visited Burgos and Vitoria on our way to Bilbao.

Burgos

I've been in Burgos before many years ago, once with my parents and once on the high school finalists trip. In Portugal it became a tradition on the last year of high school to make a trip to a foreign country on Easter vacations. My class went to Paris by bus and although the city of Light was the destination, we visited several places on the way and Burgos was one of them. We are talking about 18 years ago, so no, I didn't remember much besides that it has a big cathedral. 
My father loves viewpoints so whenever possible, that's one of the first things we do when we arrive in a city so we have a notion of the city's display and that's what we did in Burgos. As we got up there, it became clear that the Cathedral is definitely the heart of the city. It stands out as only a UNESCO site heritage do and besides I'm not the biggest fan of churches, I was quite curious about this one. The outside stone was incredibly white and the inside was very well preserved, which makes me believe it probably went over a major restoration recently. Although I'm not a religious person and churches don't appeal that much to me, I think this one is worth the visit. It has a lot of details and rooms and the cloister with its stained glass is very pretty.








After lunch we went for a small walk around the city centre where we saw the magnificent arch that leads to the cathedral square, the main Theatre and the Plaza Mayor. Whenever in Spain you should always check the Plaza Mayor of the city, I at least have a major crush on them.








Vitoria

Last year December we went to Pamplona and made a quick visit to Vitoria. It was cold and raining all the time, we didn't spend much time there, so I was quite looking forward to go back. 
Vitoria is pretty, it has the easiest old town ever in a U shape, pretty buildings with the lovely typical balconies and several interesting paintings on the sides of buildings, but still, for some reason, it's not a place that excites me. 









Stay tuned for the post about Bilbao, the city that everyone told me it wasn't very interesting but that I really liked.
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