We flew to Madrid and rented a car (Seat Leon) from Europcar, then Susan drove to Burgos, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, and to the airport for San Sebastian (at Hondarribia). San Sebastian is called Donostia by the Basques.
We enjoyed driving from Madrid to Burgos, finding the terrain agreeable. It was a sunny day, and you can see a long way in that country.
In Burgos, Susan showed me the gigantic cathedral, the largest I’ve ever seen and very ornate. I suppose the centuries of pilgrims left many donations.
In Santo Domingo, we entered the church and immediately smelled the chickens. The legend is a bit incredible, but they take it seriously enough to keep a cage of chickens in a well-lighted place for the tourists.
The route to Hondarribia passed through numerous tunnels. We found that the car’s lights would only stay on for about 10 seconds. We found an owner’s manual in the glove box, but could not read it well enough to determine the proper way to control the lights. Fortunately we reached the airport before dark.
Due to a festival in San Sebastian, there was a 3-night minimum for Pension Amaiur, which is where Susan and Betsy stayed in 2007. It turned out that the festival was a week long (Semana Grande), with fireworks every night at 22:45, and multiple parades and other events every day.
We arrived at the airport after the last bus, and caught the only taxi. The driver explained there were only three flights scheduled that day due to the festival, and the buses don’t “respect” the schedule on weekends. We felt lucky to get to SS. The streets in the Old City, where the Pension is located, were jammed with pedestrians in a festive mood, so we had to walk several blocks with our luggage. About three blocks from the Pension, the streets were jammed with marching bands and “gigantes”. These are ten-foot high models of men and women in traditional costumes, carried by men underneath the costumes, who dance them through the streets. It took more than a half-hour to move through the crowd to the Pension, where our room had a balcony directly over the street of the parades.
next: Bilbao & Fireworks