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Published: September 28th 2018
Even 'though it is off season San Sebastian is a party town. Imagine South Bank, New years eve, with a surf beach and thousands of merry tourists. It was good fun, the sun shone a warm welcome, the surf wasn't the best and it was crowded but Carl rented a wet suit and enjoyed himself. The food was the best part. All day and most of the night hundreds of bars and restaurants offered Pintxos or Tapas. Sea Urchin was delicious.
I felt I left no more personal foot prints on the lives of the people of San Sebastian than I left on the sands of its beaches. But it was fun.
We went to the Guggenheim. What a fantastic building, such imagination and creativity shame most of the exhibits inside were a bit disappointing. MONA manages to be modern and creative without being self indulgent.
Food and wine here are fantastic. On the way to Torla I ate thistles in cheese sauce. Unfortunately it was not photogenic. We ate sheep's milk yogurt. So very delicious.
Torla is a stunning beautiful town with a population of 306. It is high in the rugged Pyrenees. There are many
challenging walking tracks. Carl did a really tough six hour trek. I did some gentle four hour walks to waterfalls where I found a lot of fungus. I must have spotted almost 100 varieties of mushrooms. Wish I knew which were edible. The mountains are complex geologically. There is an ancient mountain range that got a fold when the African and European plates collided. Maybe Slarty Bardfast had a hand in the frilly bits. Glaciation has added to the U shaped valleys.
The mountains are so magnificent. Every direction you turned there was another powerful mountain thrusting to the sky. Even if you look at the same mountain a little later in the day, the colour and magic change. We stayed in a little apartment just out of town. The only 'noise' was a tumbling mountain stream and sheep bells. The air was crisp and cool.
It is a Basque area. The Basque people have a very long and distinct history. They arrived in the area about 70,000 years ago and remained separated from the rest of Spain/France. Their language Euskera is unique in the world. ETA launched an armed conflict from 1959 to 2011. A long and
bloody war. You can still sense the Basque pride in their language and separate culture. Unfortunately my Spanish is not sensitive enough to discuss such topics.
There is a small grocery shop in town. The proprietor was annoyed when Carl picked up a a nice juicy peach. Only he is allowed to handle the fruit. So he chose one for us. It was as hard as a rock. I grovelled an apology. Next I had a question about laundry detergent and wanted to know if the product I held in my hand could be used in a front loading machine. He let me struggle on with my meagre Spanish, until I said, in Spanish I was sorry for my poor Spanish but we come from Australia. Well then he spoke to us in perfect English. It seems he is an IT professional and loves the mountains so works from his little shop, running a business across Spain.
Next stop Veilha for six days of hiking.
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