Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Spain nixes Basque peace process


There was an AP story by Daniel Wolls in The Washington Post today, "Spain Declares End to Basque Peace Process," at this link. (May require online membership of subscription or fee.)

The Basque area runs from northwestern Spain into southeastern France. The Basques are a people of uncertain origin with an isolated language (Euskara) with unusual grammar. I visited Bilbao and San Sebastian/Donesta in May 2001 (arriving in San Sebastian on a Saturday Night train from Lisbon, having spent the day before at Fatima in Portugal). You have to take a bus for the 60 mile ride to Bilbao, which opens up as a spectacular coastal city with unusual mixes or architecture. I stayed in a hotel on the Nervion river near the Guggenheim, and had a suite for $100 a night (inexpensive by European standards). Although there is a lot of speculation about the origins (perhaps even Atlantean or extraterrestrial) of the Basque people, they are not distinquishable physically from other Europeans, and the population in the city is extremely mixed, the way it is in London. Yet the ETA headquarters and flag were near the hotel, but everything was quiet when I was there. The city of 350000 has an impressive Metro. Being in this isolated city gives one the feeling of being on another planet, with a civilization similar to our own. There is a Basque railray between Bilbao and San Sebastian that does not appear to be covered by normal train service or passes.

San Sebastian is a spectacular city with a canal with enormous, California-style homes, and a famous circular beach that has appeared in the movies.

(I have yet to find my pictures from that trip, having moved; the picture hear comes from a hike in VA.)

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