Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Circle Tour 13: Gernika and Beyond

 The last day of cycling! We hugged our gracious hostess goodbye.
Sadly the picture I took of her sitting at her desk was so blurry I cannot use it. I'm borrowing this farewell group photo and don't know who to credit. María Isabel is standing next to me.

The last send off for the cyclists:

María Isabel  highly recommended adding a few kilometers to our route so we could see the most beautiful sights yet. It was a beautiful day, so we did just that and went on to famous Elantxobe.

This spectacular vertical disposition of the old downtown makes Elantxobe one of the most peculiar ports of the Basque Coast. Narrow hilly streets and stepped/tiered corners surround a scanty port area. The urban center maintains the character of the ancient Basque ports. Among the buildings of major import the Neoclassic style of the 19th century is predominant, such as the Town Hall, restored in 1981, or the large house on Kale Nagusia 38. Other enduring samples are the fishermen's dwellings with glazed wooden galleries in vivid colors.

In addition to the port area and the magnificent views of the Atlantic coast, we were fascinated by the historic church downtown.

I enjoy reading all the plaques and inscriptions that tell the story of this ancient structure, like when the bell tower was added, where each piece came from and when it was added.

The photo on the left was a team favorite, captured by Allison.

I was really looking forward to our next stopping place, the famous Gernika--the focal point of Basque history. We had been there three years earlier. Our host, Alberto, gave us a wonderful and very informative tour. In fact I wrote four blog posts to cover that experience: Gernika-LumoGernikako ArbolaPlaza de los FuerosPaseo por Gernika.
On that occasion, however, we were unable to go into the Assembly Hall as it was temporarily closed to the public. This time we were privileged to tour the historic building. Unfortunately I have so few decent photos of the many sights. Suzi, one of our team members who was very committed to documenting the experience photographically, has a wonderful collection for that day, June 14, that you will really enjoy.                              
I think I was caught up reading everything I could. So I would have been looking down at the table display of the large stained glass ceiling overhead.

The vans had trouble finding a parking spot in the city, so could not linger and go to other important sites.
The cyclists, however, did not have that problem and were able to view the mosaic replica of Picasso's Guernica, which depicts the horrors of the bombing of the city on market day on April 26, 1937.

We had planned to find something to eat in the city but that was not possible due to the parking problem. So we kept going until we found a suitable place where we had a lovely time.

The circle was completed that afternoon when the cyclists arrived at the Holiday Inn in Derio, near the Bilbao airport.

Charlie's van had trouble finding the place.

Sara's friends, Ana's family, rode around in circles as well trying to locate the hotel's strange access arrangement. It was a happy reunion, nevertheless.

Ana, Hemmick's Basque daughter, and her parents
We left the bulk of our luggage in a couple rooms and headed back to San Sebastián for two more nights.

This post took longer to put together, because life has been so full and also because there was a lot to process, I had fewer notes (and my memory is fading perhaps?).

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