It was rather a hasty goodbye today in San Sebastian to Sarah, Rob and Aliana. I watch as they make a valiant attempt to stuff their luggage and themselves into a tiny cab, connecting via Bilboa to Frankfurt and home (they finally succeed after the taxi driver takes a wheel off the stroller!) ….. long journey with a baby … Lufthansa’s ongoing rotating strike looms in the background, so a bit of uncertainty there. The senior Overmanns and Hubbells boarded their Mediterranean cruise some days ago ….. and as for moi, aahh …. breathing my own air again … in all honesty, and despite already more than missing Aliana’s cheerful grins and general countenance, I was more than ready for some alone time. It has been a bit of a whirlwind trip thus far …. exhilarating and a thrill to be in Europe and it’s cafe culture again with Sarah et al, but boy, I am rather pooped …. My personal pace is more of a dawdle 🙂 ! Hence, swapping the bustling seaport town of San Sebastian here in Northern Spain, not far from points of call on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail … for the even smaller fishing village of Hondarribia tomorrow, a half hour or so drive away. Quiet places seem to sooth my soul. The troops and I have been exploring this Basque region in Northern Spain the past week, indulging in the many tapas bars, devouring delicious pintxos (appetizers), tasty gelatos, fruity local wines, including the quintessential basque region guipuzoan cider, somewhat reminiscent of a mild sauvignon blanc. This is surely the gastronomical capital of Spain, harboring a bounty of culinary experiences within these tapas bar laden streets of old and new world architectural splendors. Just by chance, we are here for the annual Concha Cup long boat races that date back to 1879 … It is the largest boating event in the region, attracting 100,000 for the week of celebratory events …. the races are spaced over the first two Sundays of September …… witness the crowds gathered everywhere to watch the beginning race in pictures below …. even though the race was finished by the time Rob, Sarah, Aliana and I made it to the seaside, most people were still milling about, watching and waiting …. for what, we were not sure! Perhaps just enjoying the general ambiance as were we …. The stunning sea wall became a favorite daily walk, with a few forays to the lovely beaches in this Bay of Biscay (well, Sarah, Aliana and I, at any rate, dragging along a rather unenthusiastic and reluctant Rob 🙂 … I found it rather strange the rest of our group were loathe to even dip their feet in the ocean … perhaps the bit of chill in the air contributed to that, or they are just not water people, although it certainly did not hinder little Aliana’s enjoyment of crawling about in the warm tidal pools ….. hmmm, different strokes for different folks. Watching my own “baby” introduce the beach and the ocean to her baby, has surely been a highlight …. Aliana’s laughter yesterday was pure joy personified! …. as was Sarah’s! Have I mentioned before, that I adore my daughter’s positive and enthusiastic attitude towards life 🙂 Nowhere is it more evident than during travel to different countries, where Sarah’s smile and enthusiasm light up her whole demeanor! I never cease to feel thankful, blessed and grateful for the many opportunities I have had for exploring our beautiful world. Over almost forty years together, Brian and I have worked very hard to accomplish the ability to do so. There were many many years where travel was just not possible to swing financially so now, whenever we can jump on a plane, we are doubly thankful! It was always a hope that we passed along to our children, our own enthusiasm and open mindedness about the many cultures that make up our world. By all indications, it appears that we have and now, Sarah passes that trait along to her own daughter! ….. Aliana’s joyful attitude is just a delight to be around and intensifies the experiences a new country presents via it’s sights, sounds, smells, tastes ….. so much fun to see things through the eyes of a child again ….. and oh my, how that child is receptive to tasting most everything new!! …. Her favorite dish in Spain is a traditional basque omelet which is basically a potato, onion and egg tortilla … not even remotely a Mexican tortilla but more like a pie of scalloped potatoes? A tasty gelato is right in there too!
I am ahead of myself here in journalling …. I totally forgot to write much about our time in Paris or London, for that matter!! … too busy exploring I guess or too tired at night!! To top off our London jaunt, we had a fabulous evening at Russell and Christine’s home, (friends of Sarah and Rob from Sarah’s year of studies at Oxford) …. their home is a charming townhouse right along the Thames River, a stone’s throw from our hotel …. they grilled a feast fit for royalty for their Canadian guests … lovely, lovely people and a fitting finish to our London stay. Our time there, as in Paris, was short (or is it just me who likes to dally about more and more these days 🙂 …. In Paris, I absolutely loved hanging out at the end of the day at Legends, the tiny boutique hotel Sarah dug up for us … a place to rub and rest our well used feet, while enjoying a nice glass of wine, after a busy day of exploring, be it the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Palace of Versailles or searching out a cafe for dinner …. Paris is a great walking city and we certainly did lots of that!! Posting a few pictures of our time there as well as here in San Sebastian …. Kind of a hodge lodge picture posting …..