The beauty of Basque Country

IMG_1570SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain – This view is the reason I fell so hard for San Sebastián all those years ago on my inaugural trip here in college. This is Playa de la Concha on the Bay of Biscay. Basque Country is breathtakingly beautiful and I’ve always wanted to return. Sometimes you visit places when you’re real young and wonder if you’ll ever be back again with your future beloved by your side. The answer is yes.

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When travel reality bites

laundromatSAN SEBASTIAN, Spain – The reality of travel includes stomach bugs and laundry days. Even so, I was thankful for a partner who’s here for me in sickness and in health because last night I was racked with fever and chills that kept me from the dinner I so desired in a city dotted with Michelin-star restaurants. He ordered in. And I lay in the hotel bed praying for a reprieve. Today, we spent our last morning in San Sebastian at the local laundromat. Me, still not quite right. My head on his lap while he did a crossword puzzle. And that, folks, is real life.

Traveling by train

san sebastian viewSAN SEBASTIAN, Spain – This was our tranquil view from the train upon entering San Sebastian. We spent six hours on the Eurorail headed northwest from Barcelona to Basque Country. It doesn’t look like it here, but these high-speed trains go upwards of 185 mph.That’s why it was terribly surreal to see the news of the train collision in Italy on TV upon our arrival in Basque Country. 27 lives lost in an instant.

A prayerful alternative to tourism

sagradaBARCELONA, Spain – I first visited the Sagrada Famila 15 years ago in college. The famous basilica designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi wasn’t even half way done back then – even though construction began in 1882. Today, she’s lookin’ pretty good for 134 years old. They still estimate another 10 years before completion, and if crews can pull it off, it would mark the centennial of the Gaurdi’s death.

Mr. Wonderful has always wanted to visit Spain – specifically Barcelona – so I was really looking forward to showing him this monolithic masterpiece. And since we were visiting on our first anniversary, I had hoped to take a moment inside the incredible church to say a prayer together on behalf of our marriage.

Unfortunately for us, however, there were no tickets available. Yep, you need to reserve tickets to get into a public church.

Instead, we improvised from the park across the street. How’s that for a view?

Barcelona by foot

gracia walkBARCELONA, Spain – We discovered the buzzing Barcelona barrio of Gracía on our last night in the capital of Catalona. Our guide, Jose Antonio, first engaged us in his historical perspective on Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter before leading us just north of the city to Gracia for a tapas tour. We celebrated the first anniversary of our nuptials exploring these Spanish streets – stopping along the way for tapas, vino tinto and gelato.

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The homeland calls.

motherlandMADRID, Spain – My name is everywhere here and it amuses me to no end. You know all those little souvenir license plates and keychains? My name is among them. Finally. Spelled my way. It’s on bottles of wine, too. But better yet, it’s on street signs like this one because Her Majesty, Queen Cristina, was kind of a big deal.