Vitoria of the Bean Eaters

Vitoria-Gasteiz, País Vasco, Spain – September 11th, 2010

This weekend, I visited Vitoria (Gasteiz in Euskera), the capital of the Basque Country. Like other parts of the region I’ve visited thus far, Vitoria charmed me with its duality – the medieval alongside the strikingly modern, the way children laugh and play in the fountains as police block off plazas for protests, the way everything has two names – in Spanish, and in Basque. The residents of Vitoria can be called Vitorianos, or Gasteiztarras… or Babazorros, which means Bean Eaters. I like that.

/A Semester in the Basque Country of Spain

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The Jungle Fights Back

Where: Costa Rica

When: June 2008

Camera: Canon Powershot A550

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I took this picture from the bus as we were driving in western Costa Rica. I loved how the lush, tangled green of the forest suddenly parted to reveal the brightly coloured touristy towels hanging by the shop. I guess the photo could be a statement that the jungle is taking back the land, covering the buildings, or that tourism is encroaching on Costa Rica’s natural beauty – but for my part, I thought they co-existed rather well.

/Pura Vida in Costa Rica

 

Crossing Kansas

Where: Kansas, U.S.A.

When: July 2010

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T1i

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It takes nearly ten hours to drive from Kansas City to Denver, Colorado, and it’s not one of America’s most scenic drives. When the first mountains begin to appear on the horizon, distant and faint, I can’t take my scenery-starved eyes off of them.

/American Road Trip Plus

Sea, Sky, and Sculpture in San Sebastian

San Sebastian, País Vasco, Spain – August 31st, 2010

San Sebastian seems to be famous for a dizzying number of things: blue waters, stunning vistas, a calm beach here, a surfing beach there, amazing seafood, delicious pintxos, an international film festival, lovely sculptures… and from what I could tell from a single day trip, its good reputation is well deserved. (And, it’s only about an hour from Pamplona by bus!)

Ida, Lea, Cynthia and I started the day with a walk around Monte Urgull on the Paseo Nuevo, which during bad weather can be unpassable as the waves leap over the balconies. When we walked it, the surf was calm and delightful, playing on the rocks below. As we came around the mountain, the sculpture “Empty Construction” competed with the lovely bay for our attention. A crescent moon of sandy beach stretched out before us, snuggled into a natural harbour formed by the Isla de Santa Klara and filled with sailboats gliding about.

The view was nice enough from sea level, but we took the funicular up Monte Gueldo to find what might be the theme park with the best view in the world. The sea and the sky seemed perfect mirrors of each other as we stood suspended between the two. Heading back down, we walked a bit farther past the beach to find “The Comb of the Winds”, another lovely sculpture, or set of sculptures, all rusty red in contrast to the deep blues all around them.

We’ll have to return to give the city itself a fair share of our time and interest, as I know it’s filled with incredible cuisine and lovely architecture. Still, on our way back to the bus stop we did happen to wander through the procession for the 31st of August Celebration – it was a loud and flashy parade of cannons, music, and traditional Basque clothing – what luck that we happened to be there to see it!

/A Semester in the Basque Country of Spain