Wednesday, December 05, 2007

august 6, donostia san sebastian

The Basques share with the Celts the privilege of indulging in unrivaled extravagance on the subject of themselves.

~Miguel de Unamuno quoting Ampere

My goal is to finish my Europe posts this month. Finally.

We were so delighted with Donostia (San Sebastian) that we ended up spending the whole day there instead of going down to visit the shrine of Loyola, much to the disappointment of Rosa, our hostess at the farm. ("It's a must-see," she said. "Just so you can learn of all the awful things you can do and still be made a saint.")

Donostia has this gorgeous, curved beach called La Concha. For some reason I didn't take any photos of it. I think I was getting a little burned out on taking photos. As you can see from the two photos of the Old City, it was thronged with tourists. However, the masses here didn't bother me like those in Barcelona. They seemed a little quieter and more refined. Then again, it may just be that the weather was cooler in Donostia and I felt more comfortable.

We ate chipirones en su tinta, squid in its ink, the most prized Donostian dish. Yum!! It was one of our favorite meals in Spain. As I walked around Donostia, I thought, "I could totally live here." It is a beautiful, smallish city. It has mountains and sea. It's green. The people love their land and keep it immaculate. There are many cultural offerings.

Both of us were very sad to leave Basque country from the Bilbao airport the next morning. I cried. On the plane we ended up sitting with a very personable British guy. Named Miles, even! He and his wife, who's Irish, and three children have lived in Bilbao for several years. They only speak English at home. The two school-aged children hear only Basque in the classroom, and yet the children have learned Spanish, he says. They can both understand and speak it. Isn't that fascinating? He says that they must have picked it up on the playground or just from the mostly Spanish-speaking culture around them. The Basques talk a lot about their own language, but my experience there is that you hear mostly Spanish.

We pelted poor Miles with questions about living in Basque Country the entire flight to London. He was a great sport about answering everything. Oddly, we spoke Spanish the whole time.

We would love to move there, but it would be very expensive for our large family. I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon.

What do you think about the Unamuno quote? Hilarious, no? After visiting both Ireland and Basque Country, I have to say I found it to be true.


Cocoa said...

Donostia sounds lovely. Except for the squid. I have a certain terrible memory of squid in its ink in science class and haven't been able to try it since. How funny about the British fellow! And the quote is so true.

Auntie Lee said...

We recently bought black spaghetti which was made so by using squid ink. Looked pretty weird but tasted like ordinary spaghetti. It may be fun at Halloween to make something look worm like.