AE Monthly

Articles - July - 2011 Issue

Booking It in Europe - Volume II!

Libreriadebilbao

Libreria de Bilbao.

After Porto, we trained north to Spain and rented a car for a week to tour the coast of Spain. The highways were great and it was spectacular country with beautiful beaches, the majestic Pyrenees Mountains, castles on just about every hill, and the first of many Anton Gaudi buildings, the Capriccio, a house he designed as a vacation house for one of his Barcelona clients. 

 

The last bookstore we visited was directly across from the amazing Guggenheim Art Museum in Bilbao, Spain. The Guggenheim had a three-story wire puppy statue in front of it packed with potting soil and flowers that gave the puppy its colorful spots.  It was a gas.  The bookstore was called Libreria de Bilbao. It was quite modern and clean.  They had a few English language books, mostly new books.  We were sort of lost and had gone into the store to ask how to find another bookstore that we had heard about, Libreria Astaroloa.  As it turned out, the very nice clerk spoke quite excellent English and was dying to use it.   We asked about the other store and she told us that it was owned by the same person who owned the store we were in, but that it was mostly antiquarian books.  She gave us directions and we hiked for an eternity to get there just in time to find it closed.  Darn!  The windows looked interesting.

 

The most frustrating experience of the trip was in San Sebastian.  We had driven most of the day and were pooped.  San Sebastian is in the heart of the beautiful Basque country right on the ocean.  We had reservations at a small hotel in downtown San Sebastian and a great map of San Sebastian.  However, though we had specific directions on how to get to said hotel and all the street names on the map were in Spanish, all the street signs were in Basque.  Basque bears no resemblance to Spanish (which I sort of speak), Portuguese (which we picked up a bit of), or French (which we know not at all).  It is a language totally unto itself with a lot of Xes and Zees.  After an hour and a half of trying to figure out where we were, we found the hotel.  We also found that it had recently been gutted and was no longer there.  We finally gave up and drove thirty miles down the road to a wayside hotel.           

 

Next day we zipped through Pamplona, getting only slightly lost in their morass of streets, and on to an amazing walled city from the 17th century called Ainsa where we spent the night. Our hotel room looked out over the mighty Pyrenees Mountains and we found a really good, eclectic Mediterranean restaurant.  They had a fascinating craftsman’s museum there with tools and articles from the 16th century on to about the 1800s, which we enjoyed very much.

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