I spent the whole train ride to Spain between reading the International Herald Tribune cover to cover, listening to the loud conversation of the two men behind me (who found everyone from kids to old ladies stupid and worth mocking in high-pitched stupid-sounding voices and talked business and computer gadgets for four hours) and devouring the French landscape for any indication of the Basque country side, a scarred mountainous mini-Scotland that I imagined, hungry for the country I´ve been dreaming about since I was about ten years old and heard that Basque people and culture are temperamental, passionate and mysterious…
After five hours of train, finally the flat landscape started bumping up into rugged hills with sheep on the sides, placidly eating, and in between two hills with old houses on the flanks, a beautiful view of churning ocean a light stormy grey-blue under the white waves, and I knew this was the country I´d seen in so many dreams and read about in so many stories.
It rained most of our night and morning in San Sebastian, but we still had a lovely evening running through the streets into stores, walking in and out of the million bars (with the same ¨basque font¨lettering on their overhanging signs) and ordering various appetizers (called tapas everywhere else but here pinchas) and this lovely grape-juice drink called Mosto (always served with two ice cubes and a slice of orange in a thick squarish glass).
We spent a long and leisurely hour in a Churreria eating churros (long thin clolumn-like tubes of fried dough that you dip in cups of melted chocolate) and playing backgammon and then walked in the streets again, until very early by Spanish standards (11 PM) and then I fell asleep instead of going dancing. Too tired…not used to the Spanish lateness yet.
We left San Sebastian this morning after a breakfast and a quick walk and are now in Bilbao, across from the incredible Guggenheim museum and its iridescent expo cubes.