07 September 2011


The hurricane is gone - we just lost a few branches from the big old maple tree out front.  We cleaned up (mostly) in time for the start of school.

Now, where were we?  Oh, yes, it was the 29th of July, and we were in Madrid, renting a car, stuffing it full of our belongings, and heading north. Our first planned stop was Bilbao - my choice, as I wanted to see the Guggenheim Museum there - and then San Sebastian, on the northern coast near the Pyrenees.  San Sebastian was Sam's choice, as it is reputed to be one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in all of Europe.

When we travel by car, Sam usually drives.  I spell him when he gets tired, but he hates being a passenger and prefers to be in control of the vehicle whenever possible.  That's fine with me, so most of the time I sit in the front passenger seat with a map and a guide book, telling him which way to go.  I am an excellent navigator in the United States, but I am sort of iffy in Spain.  Also, I have a terrible habit - mostly beyond my control - of falling asleep at the drop of a hat.  In Spain, I was doing this mid-conversation.  It was driving Sam nuts.

Bilbao is an all-day drive from Madrid, and around midday, we started to get hungry.  We were near a city called Burgos, which I quickly looked up in the book.  Michelin said it had a spectacular cathedral, not to be missed.  Sam made a quick executive decision to pause in Burgos and have lunch near the cathedral.

In Burgos, as in most European cities big enough to have a cathedral, the cathedral square is a center of commerce.  We knew we'd have no difficulty finding a nice place to eat in the center of town.

The square near the cathedral in Burgos.

Walking down an alley, looking for a restaurant.  The lady in the skirt is a local - I am taking the picture!
Pausing at a souvenir shop because, to my kids' great amusement, they had "Bob Esponja" (Sponge Bob) t-shirts.
We often have lengthy debates before we choose a restaurant, because my oldest daughter is a vegetarian, my younger daughter is a huge meat-eater, and my son is, well, conservative in his tastes.  This time was no different, but we eventually settled on a place called the Casa Amarilla (the Yellow House).  It did not disappoint.  They had delicious paella (Sarah, being the good sport that she is, just ate around the bits of seafood) and their own house red wine.

After lunch, we had to tour the cathedral.  It turned out that El Cid was buried within its walls - who knew? (El Cid is a Spanish national hero of legendary proportions.  If you're not familiar with his story, you can catch up on it here.)

Going in.

Forbidden photo of the interior of cathedral.  Look at all that gold.  Wow.
When we had seen the cathedral and walked off the wine and the lunch, it was back into the car to continue the nap drive to Bilbao.  But first, we paused for a couple of family pictures outside the city wall.  First, Sam and the kids:

And here's a rare shot of me with the kids (just in case you're not sure, I'm the one in the purple top).

How lucky we were to stumble on such a beautiful place, have such a delicious lunch, and learn something about the history and culture of Spain!  We couldn't wait to see what awaited us on our next stop.

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