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Spain From page 29 by Mounte Igeldo where — on a clear day — you can also see France. Like Antonio, our lecturer here, David Bumstead, emphasized that San Sebastian “is one of the safest cities in the world.” He alluded to the ETA — the violent separatist group that operated out of the Basque country of Spain and southern France for years. ETA translates in English to “Basque independence and security.” “The ETA is no longer big,” Bumstead stressed. “It went too far, did some terrible things. But they have since become marginalized and have declared a permanent ceasefire.” We also learned that Ferdinand Magellan was not the first to circumnavigate the
world. He was killed during a battle in the Philippines. His second in command, Juan Sebastian Elcano, a Basque explorer, took over and completed the voyage. A monument to Sebastian Elcano stands in Gitaria, a seaside community near San Sebastian. Bilbao, another city with little crime, was transformed from a dark industrial town, known for exporting steel and coal, into a clean and popular tourist site after the Guggenheim Museum opened here in 1997. Designed by Frank Gehry, the distinctive building is constructed of limestone, glass and more than 30,000 thin titanium plates that change color dramatically as the weather changes. From some angles, it looks more like a sculpture than a building. Bilbao landed the handsome museum by paying millions for the building and the
TAKE A TRIP TO THE EASTERN SHORE
Enjoy an all-you-can-eat crab feast at Kentmorr Restaurant, and travel to Delaware Park Casino, on Tuesday, Oct. 1, with the Parkville Senior Center. Cost is $78. Call (410) 882-6087 to reserve a seat.
OCTOBER 2013 — BALTIMORE BEACON
CRUISE THE CHESAPEAKE BAY
Join the Liberty Senior Center on this Pony Express Nature Cruise traveling across the Chesapeake Bay to Virginia’s Eastern Shore, home of the Assateague wild ponies, on Wednesday Oct. 2. The cost is $120. Call (410) 887-0780 for information and reservations.
Guggenheim name with taxpayer dollars. The Guggenheim Foundation chooses the art exhibited, which is mainly modern or Impressionistic.
Running of the bulls In sharp contrast, the principal attraction in Pamplona is the raucous, week-long Festival of San Fermín, which opens with hundreds of bullfighting fans running through city streets to the bull ring, ahead of six frightened bulls. Held each year from July 6 to July 14, it honors Saint Fermín, the city’s first bishop and patron saint, who was beheaded in France in the third century. All of Catalonia and San Sebastian in the Basque country have banned bull fighting, but this remains Pamplona’s most lucrative attraction. The hotel room where Hemingway stayed during the bullfighting festival now costs 2,000 euros per day. Orson Wells stayed here once and skipped out on his bill. Proudly framed, the bill hangs in the hotel lobby. “If you have anything bad to say about Hemingway, don’t say it here,” lecturer Guillem Genestar said. “If you have anything bad to say about France, go right ahead.” Our close-knit group of 34 had a fourcourse meal fit for a matador at Café Iruña, where photos of Hemingway still line the walls.
As I told you, this trip took stamina. But if I could do it in my 80s, so can you. It’s worth the effort. Catalonia and the Basque Country, combined, are no larger than New Hampshire. But the welcome you feel here is many times as big.
Planning your trip British Airlines offers the lowest midOctober fare from BWI to Barcelona at $1,005 roundtrip. If you aren’t taking a package tour, like the one I and my fellow alumni took, I recommend the Hotel Cristal Palace in Barcelona (www.eurostarscristalpalace.com), where rates start at about $190 a night, and the seaside Hotel Londres y de Inglaterra (London and England) in San Sebastian (www.hlondres.com/en), for about $310 a night. Both have great dinner and breakfast restaurants and are located in the heart of the city near many sights. Restaurants we enjoyed in Barcelona, outside the hotel, included the Citrus Restaurant on the Passeig de Gracia, which specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, and the Catalan restaurant Pomarada, on the same street. In San Sebastian, we enjoyed a seaside dinner at the La Perla restaurant. For lunches, we strolled the waterfront looking for the best places to try “pintxos” (pinchos) or tapas, the local specialty. Gwen Gibson is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas.
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October 2013 Baltimore Beacon Edition