Life-size reproduction of Picasso's painting on a wall in Guernica Spain
I had read some about the bombing destruction of Guernica in 1936 by Hitler and Franco's rebels, but to walk the streets and see first hand the few buildings of the original city left standing made a lasting impression of the horror depicted in Picasso's work. Guernica now claims the title "City of Peace" and the new buildings and the general ambiance certainly gives a peaceful impression. To read the next-day eye-witness account of the bombing, click here
Our guides through the city and the area around Bilbao were Situse and Esti. Situse, brother of Rita--our host in Barcelona--had just returned from Hawaii and was staying with his girlfriend Esti until he could find a job in Bilbao and they could get a place together. Rita called him and he and Esti, who was raised in Bilboa and familiar with the area, volunteered to show us around Bizkaia (the area along the Bay of Biscay.)
Situse, Esti and Bob on "viewing stools" facing the Bay of Biscay.
Esti said she prefers to call them meditation stools as looking out over the water and the lush green coastline always puts her into a meditative state of mind.
The coastline view of the bay from the Viewing Stools.
After stopping along the coast a few more times we went walking through an Ecological Preserve, had Pinchos (another word for tapas) for lunch in Mundaka and visited several more scenic spots before we had to take them back to Bilbao then drive almost 2 hours to San Sebastian for a two-night stay there. The Basque area is absolutely beautiful. The food is fantastic, and the people are very friendly. More than once we stopped total strangers on the street and asked for directions to parking or hotels or where we could have "comida tipica" (typical food of the area). They were always very approachable and helpful. I must say, however, that my Spanish served us extremely well.. After we left Situse and Esti, we heard no English--other than the requisite English-speaker at the hotel check-in desks--until we returned to Barcelona. There are things we could not have done without some basic Spanish.