Musing with Max

Musing with Max

June 26, 2013

La Espana-parte dos-Bilbao-Pais Vasco

Spain is divided into a number of provinces or regions, all of which are vastly different in culture, climate, traditions...While Spanish or "Castellano" is the official language of Spain and it's territories some autonomous regions, which is how they are referred to, have their own individual languages as well. At the Northeast corner of Spain lies the autonomous region know as "Pais Vasco" or Basque Country which borders France (that part of France also considered Basque Country) and the tiny little country of Andorra nestled in the Pyrenees mountains. To the North it is bordered by the beautiful Cantabrian Sea and the Bay of Biscay. The Basques have their own language, "euskara", which sounds absolutely nothing like Spanish...or French for that matter...and every word seems to have a k in it. Pais Vasco is best known in modern history by some sad unsavory incidents. During the Spanish civil war which took place from 1936-1939, the future dictator Generalisimo Francisco Franco decided to obliterate all things in Spain that were not strictly Spanish including regional languages spoken in certain provinces along with their traditions and quite possibly their people. In 1937 he ordered the city of Gernika to be bombed therefore killing over 1600 civilians, in turn outlawing their language and the teaching of it in schools amongst other things. Which led Pablo Picasso to paint what is probably his best known and harrowing painting "Guernica". When Franco died in 1975 after 36 years in power and democracy returned to the country, it was eventually returned to the Basque people. Euskara is taught in schools today and spoken freely. Luckily for me they also speak Spanish.

So, a five hour train ride north from Madrid brought us to the very beautiful city of Bilbao,

which, frankly, knocked me off my feet. I always thought of Bilbao as some industrial smoky place...wrong!

It is a stunner. We stayed in the old city or "Casco Viejo" with cobblestone streets and endless alleys

and plazas

and cathedrals

and the "Ria Nervon" running through it

and the pure childlike joy of finding out what blogging is all about!

As we all know we connect with people from everywhere in the world in our little blog community. Imagine the experience of actually meeting! When I emailed Alicia that we would be visiting Bilbao she didn't hesitate in suggesting we meet. It turns out that our hotel was right next door to where she studies

at this library. And that's where we met one morning and went for some breakfast and she proceeded to give us a little morning tour, where we climbed some steep beautiful old steps to stare at these balcony boxes

then were treated to an elevator ride so that we could see this magnificent view

which she sees every single day. After two short hours we went our separate ways. I, much richer for having met a friend at another corner of the world.

She suggested we go here, where we took the Metro

Las Arenas-Areeta, which has this funky suspension bridge

that transports people and cars back and forth in this contraption

to a pretty little town named Portugalete

where the river meets the ocean.
There will be a parte dos 1/2.


  1. Bilbao is charming, and what fun that you got to meet Alicia.

    We were in the countryside in the Pyrenees many years ago and we had the most wonderful meal at an inn we found. One of those memorable trips.

    You are making me want to return to Spain!

  2. !!! Yes, blogging is an amazing thing ;)
    Me hizo mucha ilusión conoceros!

    1. Vaya Alicia, has tenido suerte de poder conocer a Amelia, yo me he quedado con las ganas, vivo en Jerez Andalucía, un poquito a desmano