Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 05/05/11
IBERIA2001 #20 Fireworks & Mt. Igueldo
I went out for a run and was it amazing. For some reason I ran almost 80% of the 45 minutes. Maybe it was the cool (ala Santa Monica) breezes, the scenery (beautiful cove beach front and port) or the 50,000 people I had to wade through. As it turned out we arrived on the last night of a week long festival coinciding with the feast of the Assumption of Mary. It is a city almost the size of Santa Monica, snuggled up against the mountains with a 300 degree bay with an island (Isla Santa Clara) in its mouth. The beautiful bay (Bahia De la Concha) is outlined by Monte Igueldo on the west side and Monte Urgull on the east. The eastern edge of the city, at the base of Monte Urgull and its Castillo de Santa Cruz de la Mota (16th Century), is the oldest part of town called the La Parte Vieja. The river (Rio Urumea) cuts through the city on the eastern side. Nice to see the Atlantic Ocean again.
At 10 PM, Jaime's colleague, Javier Mendicute picked us up at the hotel and we walked to the beach and joined Jaime at La Perla for dinner. Throughout the week they have a fireworks competition and this was the last night. This tradition started in 1939-40, right after Generalísimo Francisco Franco (Fascist) won the Spanish Civil War. Mussolini’s (Italy) son-in-law came here for a visit, so to impress him, the city put on such a spectacular fireworks demonstration it took them 10 years to pay the debt. Since then it has developed into a contest entered by many nations. While we ate dinner we saw the most intense fireworks display we have ever seen. I thought I was in a war zone.
The next day I went for a run in the other direction, to the west, and wound up at the base of Mount Igueldo (ee-gell-do). Before heading for the funicular, I found the famous “Comb of the Winds” (“Peine de los Vientos”) sculpture by Eduardo Chillida which is made of metal and stuck into the boulders on the beach. I took the funicular to the top, had a cortado and am sitting here typing this out on the Palm keyboard looking out over this beautiful city and bay. As I left the beautiful surroundings of the hotel I strolled through the amusement park that rings the top of the mountain called Parque de Atracciones. I took the funicular back down the hill and walked and ran the private beach of Playa de Ondarreta, past the Palace of Miramar and across the longer main beach, Playa de la Concha. Marcia is having lunch in the old town (thank God for the two cell phones so she doesn't have to sit in the room waiting for me). The restaurant (3 star Michelin) that Jaime recommended for lunch is closed today so we may give it a try tomorrow. It was cloudy and rainy early in the morning but the sun came out so I went for a swim in the Atlantic. We then drove to Zarautz 10 miles west on the coast to meet Georgio and Mercedes.
We took a stroll on the beach then went to two places in the old town for tapas which were wonderful. From there we all drove 3 miles to the picturesque little fishing village Getaria and had a Basque dinner at Restaurante Itxas Etxe (itshas etshe). The food is, shall we say, interesante. Georgio and I each enjoyed txungurra (tch-oon-goor-rah) made of a crab mixture in a crab shell. Mercedes made me try her favorite dish of hake cheeks and I will not be ordering them for myself, it was horrible. A wonderful evening communicating between Russian, English, Italian, Spanish and German (Paul's (Georgio's son) new girlfriend is from Austria), it was a hoot finalized with lemon sorbet in champagne.
A day of rest on the 3rd day and then we have laid out a plan for 1 day stops in Bilbao, Santander and Oviedo.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #21
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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