21-23 October 2019
Jumping back on the Euskotren, we return to the Basque stronghold of Donostia, or San Sebastián as we call this fabulous city curling around the Bay of Biscay. With the Pyrenees Mountains to the east, tree-covered Mount Urgull and Mount Igueldo hugging either side of the bay, pristine beaches and a plethora of Pintxos, what’s not to love?(more…)
19-20 October 2019
Traversing the southwestern region of France and getting to my destination in Spain taught me a new lesson: train travel in Europe is not perfect. I found it convoluted and less than direct to get from Bayonne, France through San Sebastián and on to the Basque city of Bilbao. Distances are not that much but there seems to be no easy, direct public transport. And, add to that an unannounced SNCF strike, cancelled trains and late TVGs, we pretty much have a long, ugly transportation day ahead.
We travel by a TGV train from Bayonne, past Biarritz south to the border at Hendaye. There, a blue Euskotren metro will take us to the Amara station in San Sebastián. Because I would like to proceed on to Bilbao, we connect with another Euskotren to Bilbao’s Zazpikaleak station. Making it more palatable is the scenery of mountains both low and tall, deep ravines, rocky streams, trees beginning to show fall colors, glimpses of blue bays, and countless charming family gardens. More than eight hours and about 110 miles later, we arrive in Bilbao.
Take me to a Pintxos bar and a glass of Rioja!(more…)
21 October 2017
Just 46 minutes and about 15€ southwest of Madrid by train is Sevilla. Our Hotel Doña Manuela is ideally located overlooking the northern end of the Jardin de Murillo and the Royal Alcázar. Its neighborhood of Santa Maria La Blanca offered a plethora of cafes and bars. Perfect!
Sevilla is easy to wander and difficult to get lost as the Cathedral’s marvelous 12th century La Giralda Bell Tower soars 342’ over the city. Originally built as a minaret during the Moorish era in 1198, it was later converted and heightened after the 1248 Reconquista when the mosque was redesigned into a Catholic church. (more…)
19 October 2017A 90-minute train from Madrid’s Atocha station takes me to the beautiful, historical city of Córdoba. Our hotel, La Boutique Puerta Osario, sits in a narrow, quiet street a few minutes from the train station. Most sights of interest lie within easy walking distance. Hotels still push paper maps; I have come to rely on Google Maps. Before leaving home, I plan what I want to see and the best route. Saves me wasting time, I see what I want, and I save trees. I load up my Google route and start my walk. (more…)
15 October 2017
Spain has become one of my favorite countries, a temptation to return again and again. I lacked appreciation, too much a novice during my initial 1972 visit to Madrid and Barcelona. However, my return in 2016 left me with the desire to explore in more depth. Thus, once again, I sit enjoying a churros and chocolate with my friend at Chocolatería San Ginés. (more…)