Day: April 29, 2013

Bilbao: The Cliff Notes Edition

  Wow! I had read the stories of how a gritty, shipbuilding city in Spain had reinvented itself as an arts and cultural center built around the signature Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum. I had seen the pictures. But I wasn’t ready for the reality. We spent Sunday in Bilbao, Spain — after a drive through the lovely heart of the Basque country — and Candice and I found the first city where we are set on finding a way to return as soon as possible. Bilbao in the 1980s saw the closing of an iconic shipyard and had the foresight to think creatively and boldly about a new future which blended new and old. It is the last part — the blending of new and old — that is often missed in the write-ups about Bilbao’s renaissance.  You get the impact of Gehry’s Guggenheim, along with the works of Calatrava, Norman Foster and other modern masters. But what is often missing is the context for these works: a walkable and vibrant historic city dating back …

Santiago de Compostela: Our visit to the final destination of the Camino de Santiago

Saturday of our European Coastal Civilizations tour took us to Santiago de Compostela, the famous destination of the medieval pilgrimage trail Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The morning began as we docked in La Corona, Spain, after sailing past the Tower of Hercules, the oldest Roman lighthouse in use today.  It makes for a dramatic entrance into the port city and set the stage for what was in store. After an hour-long bus drive, we arrived at Santiago de Compostela, with its cathedral of St. James.  The picture at the top of the post marks the official end of the Camino de Santiago, and we had a chance to talk with pilgrims who were arriving in a steady stream – many on very nice road bikes! The city’s importance came from a visit by the Apostle James to this outpost in Spain to convert people to Christianity.  Centuries later, in 813, a hermit saw a vision of a shining field, and from the Latin “Campus Stellae” …