Basque Country

Learning about Euskadi

Wednesday, July 26  –

Today we would be leaving to experience another ethnically distinct autonomous region of Spain: Euskadi in Basque or Pais Vasco in Spanish – the Basque country.

This morning, we took an ALSA (Interurbana de Autocares S.A.) bus leaving at 8 a.m. for the Basque Country. It cost about 48 Euros for two, and we traveled to the north coast through A Coruña, Lugo, Aviles, before arriving in Oviedo.

The  Maria Cristina bridge in San Sebastian

The Maria Cristina bridge in San Sebastian

In Oviedo we had about 1.5 hours for lunch and to walk around the capital city of the Principality of Asturias. You may recognize Asturias in the title, Principe de Asturias – Prince of Asturias. It is the historical title given to the crown prince/heir apparent to the Spanish throne. Oviedo is a historic city that dates back to the 700s and has beautiful old buildings worth walking around to admire.

After leaving Oviedo, we then passed through Gijon, Santander and Bilbao before arriving about 21:00 p.m. in San Sebastian. The city is a major city in the Basque country and located on the Bay of Biscay, about 12 miles from the French border. It is the capital city of Gipuzkoa.

We went to the hotel my brother had booked on Calle Aldamar – the Pension Ostatu Aldamar – and checked in. It is not too far from the famous beach on the other side of the María Cristina Bridge over the Urumea river after passing through city center.

Then we walked by the classical Municipal building, built in 1887 at the Gardens of Alderdi-Eder of San Sebastián. It is located next to the Nautical Royal Club and once housed the main casino. It closed as a casino after the ban on gambling in 1924.

Much of the architecture is interesting with heavy French influences. The arcades of the Buen Pastor square were fashioned after the ones of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, with the Maria Cristina Bridge being inspired by the Pont Alexandre III that spans the Seine. Across the bridge is the Estación del Norte train station, which was inaugurated in 1864 just after the arrival of the railway to San Sebastián, with its metallic roof being designed by Gustave Eiffel. And much like Cannes, the San Sebastián International Film Festival has given it an international cinema reputation.

We walked by the beachfront promenade at night, which was pretty under the lights. We had some Basque seafood at a local restaurant. This is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world! Then it was time to catch some sleep after a long day of traveling.

Then we walked by the beachfront promenade at night which was pretty under the lights. We had some Basque seafood at a local restaurant. This is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world!

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