SOUTHERN & NORTHWESTERN SPAIN JULY 2-16, 2005
In July OF 2005 I spent two weeks in Spain. I gave a presentation at the European Congress of Psychology in Granada, spent a day in Cordoba and two days in Seville, then gave another presentation at the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology in San Sebastian. The first three cities are in southern Spain, where I have been wanting to go in order to see the Islamic influences there. The fourth city is in the northwest corner of Spain in the Basque country which was settled by speakers of a non-European language before the speakers of European languages came. I will describe my adventures and some of the things that I learned about the many cultural influences in Spain each day of my trip.
SATURDAY JULY 2
On July 2 I flew from Los Angeles to London. It is a good thing that I got to the airport in Los Angeles three hours early. I always try to arrive early so I can request a bulkhead or exit aisle seat that has more legroom, since my legs are cramped in a regular seat due to my height. This time it took forever at the check-in desk, because British Airways hadn't charged my credit card for the tickets when I made the reservations way back in February and so the electronic tickets weren't paid for. It took a long time for them to figure it out and reticket the flights. Fortunately they had my reservations, and they gave me a seat with extra leg room. I then had to wait for my backpack to be x-rayed, eat lunch, wait to go through security, and walk to the gate Đ arriving just a few minutes before the flight boarded. But in the process of waiting I met some interesting people, including a group on their way to counsel at a summer camp in Slovenia.
SUNDAY JULY 3
It was a pleasant overnight flight to London, but I had to wait in a long line to get my boarding pass for my flight to Barcelona. Iberia had only one check-in lane, so finally an agent took half of the line to a desk in an adjacent terminal in order to check us all in before the plane left. Fortunately it was an easy transition in Barcelona for the flight to Granada. It turned out that the Granada airport was so small that it didn't have any of the arms that telescope out to the door of the plane. So we walked down the steps into the heat (38 C = 103 F). I had planned to share a taxi with another psychologist who happened to be sitting next to me on the plane, but only two taxis came for the entire flight. So we headed for the bus, and found it full, but they added a minibus which took us right downtown.
After dropping off my backpack at my hotel I took a taxi to the convention center. I arrived after the opening ceremonies had started, but only missed the welcoming speeches from the mayor and other dignitaries, and was able to hear the concert by the Granada Symphony. After that there was a reception with fancy hors d—euvres, which served as dinner. I didn't dare drink any alcohol after being awake about 30 hours so I had some local alcohol-free beer which was surprisingly good. I saw one person whom I knew from previous conferences, and met several new people.
I walked back to my hotel, which took about 20 minutes. I felt that I was in my element here, meeting people in an interesting place. Granada has beautiful buildings with many sidewalk cafes. Fortunately my hotel room is air-conditioned, so I was able to sleep. I woke up a couple of times but went back to sleep and so got enough sleep that first night.
MONDAY JULY 4
Breakfast was free in my hotel, and was a nice spread with eggs, ham, cheese, and various bread products. Fortunately the sky was overcast so it was a pleasant walk to the conference center.
I arrived in time for the first session at 9:00. I spent the whole day listening to presentations on various topics in psychology, which were very interesting. They included sessions on autism, adolescents, physiology of emotion, and metacognition (being aware of how one is thinking and problem solving). Fortunately there was a snack bar in the conference center where I was able to grab a sandwich between sessions. After the last session ended at 7:15 I walked back to my hotel and took a shower to cool off.
My hotel was on Plaza Nueva, which has a couple of outdoor cafes. Around the corner is Calle Elvira, which has the most popular pubs and discos in Granada Đ which of course is the reason why I selected that hotel! After exploring the area and adjacent streets, I selected a restaurant that was recommended by my favorite guidebook, Lets Go, which is written by college students at Harvard. For dinner I splurged and had beef filet in Roquefort sauce, not very Spanish but very good! I then had some Italian ice cream at an ice cream parlor a few blocks away.
At 12:30 AM I discovered the Aljibe pub across the street and up the hill from Plaza Nueva, which had a small dance floor. So I danced there for two hours, and met some Americans who were studying Spanish in a 6 week program at the University of Granada. We toasted each other since it was Independence Day in the US. However, while dancing I pulled a tendon behind my right knee, as a result of twisting my body left. I hobbled back to the hotel and tried to sleep, but my leg hurt and my brain said that it was still daytime in Los Angeles. So I lay there awake until 6:30 AM in Granada which was nighttime in LA, and was finally able to sleep. I slept until 1:30 PM, and then felt rested.
TUESDAY JULY 5
I grabbed a chicken Schwarma sandwich at an Arab snack bar around the corner, then bought a Granada baseball cap at a tourist shop next to the Cathedral a few blocks away. I rode a minibus up the hill to Alhambra, the complex of fortresses and palaces for which Granada is famous. It was the last stronghold of Muslim Moors who had conquered Spain in 741 AD. It was converted to Christian palaces and churches when the Muslims were expelled by the Catholic king Ferdinand and queen Isabella in 1492. The latter were the ones who sent Columbus looking for a route to India when he rediscovered America.
I spent the rest of the day exploring the Alhambra complex, not leaving until they closed at 8 PM. The oldest part of the complex, the Alcazaba, is a fortress with huge towers. There are great views of the city from the walls around the towers. The most beautiful buildings are the Nasrid Palaces, with magnificent Islamic art -- intricate geometric patterns on walls, archways, and ceilings. Out of place is the renaissance palace of the Catholic King Charles V, with Greek columns on the exterior walls. I also walked through the gardens of the Generalife, an agricultural estate nearby.
Since my right leg still hurt, I had to climb the steps by lifting my left foot first, then bringing my right foot to the same step. It hurt to lift my right foot higher than my left! While exploring the complex I met people from France, Poland, Israel, and Seattle!
That night the conference had reserved the Granada 10 disco from midnight until 2 AM. It's the largest and most popular disco in Granada. It is generally open to the public from 2 AM until 6 AM. When we arrived, there were many gold fake-leather couches there, since it is a movie theatre earlier in the evening. So members of our group sat down on the couches, and then the staff asked half of them to get up so they could remove the coaches that were not along the perimeter to make room for dancing. While the others were sitting or standing around, I started dancing and then others began to dance too. The music was the same as the Spanish rock that they play at my favorite disco in LA, which has a large Latino clientele. My leg was still sore, but better. So I had to be careful which way I moved when I danced!
WEDNESDAY JULY 6
I went to bed at 2 AM since I had to get up at 8 AM to put up my poster at the conference by 9 AM. I lay there wide awake for half an hour, and then took a melatonin pill so I could get some sleep. Melatonin is the substance that one's brain releases to put one to sleep, so it is the safest medication to take, as long as it isn't taken very often.
I took a bus to the conference center instead of walking to get there on time. I had brought a dozen copies of my poster and they were gone within the first hour. Another 10 signed up their email address for a copy during the rest of the time the poster was up until 2 PM. The poster was titled, "Semi-virgins: What counts as having sex?" based on my Multiple Identities Questionnaire. Students had rated the identity of being "a virgin" on a scale from 0=NOT AT ALL to 8=COMPLETELY, and those who had other sexual activities but not sexual intercourse sometimes used ratings 1-7.
I met colleagues from Russia and Iran at my poster, and then explored the other posters being exhibited. I attended sessions on trust and on perceptions of music, then explored the afternoon posters. I left the conference an hour early at 6 PM so I could visit the Cathedral downtown before it closed. The cathedral has huge Greek columns which were impressive, but the main altar and the many side altars were very gaudy with gold. I read that the king spent half the royal treasury on the cathedral. What I liked best were the two pipe organs.
I took a local bus out to the inter-city bus station to buy a ticket to Cordoba on Friday to make sure that I had a seat and would know how to get there efficiently with my luggage. I returned to Calle Elvia and had dinner at an Arab restaurant. I ordered a lamb tajine, which was a stew with lamb, zucchini, acorn squash, carrots, and peas, which was very good. I also had lemonade with mint.
It was still daylight, so I decided to explore some of the Albaicin, a labyrinth of steep streets and narrow alleys which originally was a Moorish neighborhood. I walked north of Plaza Nueva along the bottom of the cliff which had Alhambra on top. When the road turned left and went up a steep hill, I decided to catch a minibus. I rode to the top of the hill, and got off by a church courtyard which had a beautiful view looking across at Alhambra. After watching the sunset cast shades of color on Alhambra, I took a minibus down the back side of the hill to the Plaza Nueva.
On the corner I saw a promoter from the Aljibe pub whom I had met the night before, and he gave me a ticket for a free drink. At the pub I met another group who were studying Spanish at the U of Granada. Only one was from the US; the others were from Germany, England, and the Netherlands. I went with tem to another pub at the other end of Calle Elvira called Tantra, which had a statue of an elephant behind the bar. We met two more people from the Netherlands there. We talked and danced until after 2 AM, then headed for Granada 10. Unfortunately the doorman told most of them that their tennis shoes didn't meet the dress code, but I had dress shoes and was admitted. At first it there weren't many people there, but I started dancing and by 3 AM the place was packed. I ended up dancing until 5 AM, and had the most fun I've ever had at a disco anywhere in the world!
THURSDAY JULY 7
I slept until 1:30 PM. Going to bed on that schedule is more in keeping with nighttime in Los Angeles! While eating lunch I ran into a psychologist I had met from Slovenia who is teaching in Germany. I stopped to see the chapel behind the Cathedral, which held the graves of Ferdinand and Isabella, along with their mad daughter who had kept her husband's body with her long after he had died.
I then went to the conference for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I attended a session on cross-cultural differences in display rules of emotion, and looked at the afternoon posters on various topics.
I wanted to see more of Albaicin, so I took a minibus from Plaza Nueva to the top of the hill, and explored the main streets there. I had dinner at a sidewalk cafe near the church with the view of Alhambra, and then while looking at the view again ran into some friends I had met before!
I returned to Aljibe pub and met a group of Americans who were studying in another city nearby. We walked around the Calle Elvira awhile, then they had to return to their hotel to get up early. I went to the Tantra pub and joined a group of Spaniards who were dancing lively. It turns out that they were psychologists from Madrid who were at the conference too! At 2:30 I went to Granada 10, thinking that I wouldn't stay too late so I could get up and do laundry in the morning. But I was having so much fun that I stayed until they closed at 6 AM. Afterward people were milling around outside reluctant to leave, so I chatted with some local friendly Spaniards that I had met inside. I finally got to bed about 6:30.
FRIDAY JULY 8
I had intended to sleep until after noon, but woke up at 10:30, my body very confused about time zones and time of day. After lying in bed awake for another hour I lugged my backpack a few blocks to the local bus stop and went to the inter-city bus station. I arrived an hour before the bus was to leave, and kept watching for the bus to arrive at bay number 2 because my bus ticket said plaza 2. There still was no bus there 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time, so I asked a bus driver at bay 9 about it, and he said that his bus was going to Cordoba. Plaza 2 meant that I had been assigned seat 2, which was up in front where I had more leg room.
It was a pleasant two and a half hour ride through fields of grain and olive trees. When we arrived, the temperature was 44 C = 112 F. I took a city bus to the old town, but missed the stop and went too far. So I had to cross the street and wait in the heat for a bus going the other direction. So I was overheated when I arrived at my hotel. After checking in I walked a block to a restaurant where I ordered some tapas for dinner. Tapas are snacks like open-faced sandwiches that are served in bars and restaurants all over Spain. An example would be chopped chicken with mayonnaise on a slice of French bread with two pieces of asparagus on top.
My hotel was next to the Mezquita, which was originally a huge mosque built in 784 AD. I walked around it, and bought tickets for a flamenco performance that evening at the Cultural Center. I was feeling a little sick from the heat, so went back to my hotel. After cooling off, I explored more of the old town around the Mezquita, with its narrow meandering streets. I walked by the old Jewish synagogue and around the old city walls, past the Roman bridge and the old water wheel mill along the river. I then went to the flamenco performance which lasted two and a half hours. I was so tired that I could hardly stay awake, but I enjoyed the performance nonetheless. It was a very energetic and aggressive style of dancing, different from flamenco performances I had seen in the past. It reminded me of tap dancing and Irish clog dancing.
I went to the internet cafe which was located in the youth hostel, but their server was down. So instead of using email to write my journal, I dictated my adventures into a tiny voice recorder back at the hotel. I went to bed early so I would be rested the next day.
SATURDAY JULY 9
In the morning I explored the Mezquita. It is HUGE with 850 granite and marble columns supporting hundreds of striped arches. The Mihrab, which faces Mecca was beautiful, with an exquisite ceiling of Byzantine mosaics. But when the Crusaders expelled the Moors from Cordoba in 1236, the Mezquita was converted to a Catholic church. A renaissance cathedral was built in the middle of the mosque, with Islamic arches adjoining renaissance arches of various architectural styles. The juxtaposition of the two styles looked bizarre. Around the perimeter of the Mezquita, Catholic side altars were added, which were very gaudy with gold, like the ones in Granada. One of the reasons why the Spanish conquistadors had gone to the Americas was to look for gold.
Nearby was Cordoba's Alcazar, constructed for the Catholic monarchs in 1328. Ferdinand and Isabella said goodbye to Columbus there, and later it served as the Inquisition Headquarters, when non-believers were expelled or executed. It had beautiful gardens. But the temperature was 105. I realized why the Spanish adopted the afternoon siesta -- before air conditioning it was too hot to do anything but stay in the shade and sleep in the afternoon.
I walked back to the old synagogue, which was now open. I overheard a tour guide say that there had to be 10 Jewish males to form a Jewish community. But all the Jews had been expelled from Cordoba during the Inquisition, so now the synagogue was a museum.
I went back to the hotel to get my belongings, and took a local bus to the train station. I rode a fast train to Seville, which only took 45 minutes. In the train station, I found a telephone store which had a charger for the European cellphone that my daughter had used in Finland, as well as a SIMM card with a local phone number and 25 Euros of phone time. I normally call ATT from payphones for long distance service to the US, but the ATT access number did not work from any of the payphones that I tried in Spain. In Granada there was a telephone office with inexpensive service to the US next to my hotel, but I couldn't find a similar office elsewhere in Spain, so it was good to get the cellphone working for calling home.
I took a taxi to my hotel so I wouldn't have to wait for buses in the heat. I took a shower to cool off, then lugged my laundry half a mile to the laundromat only to find that it was closed. I returned my laundry to my hotel, then walked along the river past the Plaza de Armas, which means armory, but which was now a modern mall in an old building which looked like a train station. A couple of blocks inland was the Provincial Museum of Fine Arts. It had some works by painters I was familiar with such as Murillo, Breughel, and El Greco, as well as some artists new to me such as Pacheco. It also had some sculptures that I liked. I was able to get postcards of a couple of the paintings, but there were no postcards of the sculptures, and no photos were allowed.
I walked a few blocks further to El Centro, where the big department stores were. In a small park there was a peaceful demonstration by families with children carrying paper Sahara flags. I learned later that Sahara is a country below Morocco which is at war with Morocco. I took some pictures, and one of the guys gave me a Sahara flag.
The demonstrators marched down the street towards the Cathedral, but I stopped at a bookstore to look for geology books about Spain for my wife. They only had general Geology textbooks. But I did find two books in English about Spain that I wanted, but since they were imported from the US I figured that it would be cheaper to order them at www.amazon.com which I did at an internet cafe by the Cathedral.
The Cathedral was closed to the public, but the parish church next door was open. I stepped in to find a wedding. What was interesting was that the bride and groom were sitting down on cushions, which I had never seen before. It suggested that the ceremony might be long, but I didn't stay long enough to find out! I walked around the cathedral to see all of it, and found that a wedding inside the cathedral was exiting from the other side.
I decided to take the long way back to my hotel by walking down along the river. I found a cafe by river where I had dinner, then saw the picturesque old Roman tower which was illuminated. Farther along the river I heard music, and discovered a free outdoor concert by the Sahara group that had been demonstrating downtown. I recognized the guy who had given me the flag and his friends. They were dancing on the sidelines, and so I joined them and danced for the next two hours! It reminded me of dancing on the sidelines at a music concert in Istanbul! Sometimes the best experiences are ones that are not anticipated, but occur by chance!
In spite of all the dancing in Granada and in Seville, or perhaps because of it, my leg had stopped hurting. But I had developed a sore throat. Normally I carry a regular antibiotic when I travel, but I had forgotten to bring it since I have usually not needed it abroad. I did have some powerful Cipro with me, which I occasionally use for traveler's diarrhea, but I didn't want to take it then since it increases sensitivity to the sun.
SUNDAY JULY 10
In the morning I walked back along the river and found three of my friends from the previous night who were dismantling the refreshment stand! I was on my way to the bullring for a tour of the ring and its museum. While there I saw a woman from Finland whom I had met while discussing her poster at the conference in Granada! The museum had some paintings of famous bullfighters, including one who had started at age 14 and was killed by a bull at age 25.
When I passed the Roman tower I noticed that it was open, so I climbed the stairs to see a small maritime museum. It had a model of the ship that Columbus used to sail to the Americas.
I walked to Seville's Alcazar, a palace built by the Moors in the 8th century and embellished by Catholic kings in the 15th century. The entryway was not very impressive, but inside was an exquisite building with beautiful Islamic art, with wonderful gardens on the other side. I was so impressed that I took about a hundred photos. Fortunately, with my digital camera, an extra battery, and a dozen memory cards, I can take as many photos as I want. I had developed a deep appreciation of Islamic art on previous trips to Egypt and to Turkey.
To cool off, I had some ice cream at a cafe across from the cathedral. There were wonderful flavors of delicious ice cream in many places around Seville.
I then explored the Cathedral, which was now open. According to Let's Go, it is the third largest cathedral in the world, after St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London. In 1401 a mosque was destroyed to clear space for it. It has a golden wall depicting saints and disciples. Nearby is the tomb of Columbus, whose bones were supposedly brought back to Seville after Cuba's independence in 1902. While there I ran into three students, from the US, England, and the Netherlands, who were studying Spanish at the U of Granada, whom I had met in a disco in Granada!
I walked up the street behind the cathedral to buy a ticket for a flamenco performance. While waiting for it to begin, I went to a pub and ate tapas for dinner. The flamenco performance was outstanding. There was a single dancer and a group of musicians who performed three different styles, each with tremendous feeling. The first was a sad song from the Jewish tradition, the second a happy song from the Arab tradition, and the third a bolero which is a Spanish rhythmic dance. The dancer wore a different costume for each style, with black for the sad and bright colors for the happy. Flamenco was developed in Spain, but had musical roots from the Moors and influences from the Gypsies and others in a blending of cultures.
I had seen postcards of the Plaza de Espana and so decided to go there. It was very beautiful at night with lights illuminating the buildings and towers. The buildings are arranged in a long semi-circle. At the base of the buildings are mosaics and maps representing the major cities of Spain.
I walked back to my hotel along the river and briefly saw my friend who had given me the flag! I went to bed early because I had to catch a flight in the morning and didn't want to oversleep and miss it.
MONDAY JULY 11
Unfortunately I lay awake unable to sleep until I got up at 7:30 in the morning. I don't know if I had drunk some caffeine or was just anxious about missing my flight. I took a taxi to the airport and had an hour flight to Madrid, then another hour flight to San Sebastian. At the bus stop there were two psychologists who were also going to the conference in San Sebastian, one of whom I had met at a previous conference. We rode the bus into the old quarter and I walked a few blocks to my hotel. After checking in I walked to the beach and took a bus to the university.
San Sebastian has a semi-circular bay, with the old quarter on the right, two long beaches along the curve, and a mountain on the left. The university is below the mountain, about 20 minutes walk from the old quarter.
I entered the auditorium just as the welcoming speeches were ending. But I spotted a friend whom I had met at a previous conference. I went with him and other friends to a nearby hotel where there was a reception, where I saw other people I knew from from Canada, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, Lebanon, Israel, Nigeria, Hong Kong, and other places. This is the fourth conference I have attended of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. The previous ones I went to were in China, England, and the US.
At the reception servers brought out many kinds of fancy hors d'oeuvres. I was near the kitchen so I had quite of few, but others were not so lucky, and wanted to go to dinner afterward. So 15 of us walked along the beach to a cafe overlooking the water where they had dinner and I had dessert!
Afterward I walked to the old quarter with two friends who had a pension there, then I strolled through the old quarter to my hotel a few blocks away. Let's Go said that the old quarter claims to have the most bars per square meter in the world.
TUESDAY JULY 12
I slept until 9 AM, then carried my laundry across the river to a laundromat since I didn't have any clean clothes left. While my clothes were washing, I noticed a telecast on TV of the running of the bulls. This takes place for several days each year in the town of Pamplona, which was about 30 miles away. Because it was this week, my first choice of where to stay in San Sebastian was booked way back in February! In Pamplona, young men and bulls run down a street into the bullring. It only lasts about 5 minutes. I saw a bull fall down, and a man fall down who was then stepped upon by a bull. Every year people are injured or killed. I was told that most of the runners are drunk Americans and Australians. Muy loco (very crazy)!
After dropping of my clean clothes at the hotel, I took a bus to the university. I attended symposiums on self-esteem and on emotions by presented by people that I knew. In the afternoon I displayed my poster, and looked at posters by others. My poster for this conference was on "Gender Role Attitudes and Prejudice Toward Minority Groups." For several years I have asked my Intro Psych students to complete 40-page anonymous questionnaires about their identities for extra-credit. I found that men with less traditional sex-role attitudes were less prejudiced toward various ethnic groups, the disabled, and the elderly. However, for women there was no relationship between their sex-role attitudes and their prejudice toward other groups. Since the sex-role attitude scale primarily concerns the roles of women, the women's attitudes reflect views about themselves, while the men's attitudes reflect views about a group other than themselves, namely women. The men who are more enlightened about women are generally the same ones who are more enlightened about other groups as well. While previous research had shown that men tend to have more traditional sex-role attitudes then women, I hadn't seen any findings that this was related to men's attitudes about other groups as well.
After the conference sessions, a group of us took a bus to the old quarter, where we had a great dinner at Restaurant Gandarias. Afterward we walked by the beach and saw other friends. Four of them had rented an apartment for the week, which had a rooftop overlooking the bay. So a group of us had a relaxed visit on their rooftop! I went to bed about 1:30 AM so I could get up to hear a lecture at 9 AM by a friend.
WEDNESDAY JULY 13
I heard a lecture on group violence, then attended two symposiums on language and culture, and another symposium on acculturation. Afterward a group of us had a variety of delicious tapas at a restaurant on the beach near the university, then walked along the beach on the left to the base of the mountain. We wanted to take the cable car to the top of the mountain, but it was already closed. We walked along the beach all the way to the old quarter, and went to a pub called Tas Tas, where there was a small dance floor. There I met four people from the Netherlands. After my friends left I stayed an extra hour to dance before going back to my hotel.
THURSDAY JULY 14
I attended a lecture at the conference, and symposiums on social beliefs, autobiographical memory, and bicultural identities. Afterward I went to ride the cable car up to the top of the mountain. There were fantastic views of the bay, the beaches, and the city. I then took a bus over to the old quarter, where the conference was having a gala dinner at a fancy hotel. It was a good opportunity to see friends before many left the following day.
After dinner a dozen of us wanted to go to a disco, so went to the most famous one by the beach, but it wasn't open yet and the sign said that the cover charge was 12 euros (about $14) which some didn't want to pay. So we walked back to the old quarter intending to go to Tas Tas, but it was packed with people spilling out onto the street with their drinks. So we walked back to the first disco and found that they weren't charging a cover charge since the crowd was so light. We started dancing and soon another dozen of our friends arrived there too. I danced until 2 AM.
FRIDAY JULY 15
When I had made my hotel reservation back in February I had made it for July 11-15 since the conference ended on the 15th. But when I made my airline reservations, the best connection was the morning of the 16th and I forgot to change my hotel reservations. The hotel was booked for the night of the 15th. But one of my friends was leaving on the 15th while the 3 friends with whom he shared a room were staying until the 16th, so I was able to take his place. So I moved my belongings there this morning before taking the bus to the university.
The last conference symposium was on attachment, the bonds that children form with their parents which affect their feelings of security to explore their environment and to form relationships with others. Afterward one of my new roommates and I went to a tapas bar in the old quarter for lunch, then explored the aquarium on the beach by the old quarter. It had a museum of shells from around the world, with much greater variety than I had seen before. It also had a large fish tank with a walk-through tunnel.
My friend went back to the hotel to rest, while I walked around the peninsula to the other side and crossed the river. Over there was another beach which was better for surfing. This was where the young people hung out in groups.
After strolling on the beach, I rested on a bench and was looking at a picture book about San Sebastian. It mentioned a museum on the Basque country, so I hurried back to the old quarter to see it before it closed. The museum had a 16th century farmhouse with implements for cooking, spinning wool, cheesemaking, etc. It also had some classic European paintings including some nice ones by El Greco. Another room had Basque artists, which I liked very much.
Downstairs there was an old cathedral which had been added onto to create the museum, and on its walls were painted huge murals. Next door was a special exhibit on a painter named Eduardo Chillida Belzunce, who had begun painting at age 14 and had died at age 35. I really liked his paintings, which were very three-dimensional with the use of light and shadows. They mostly depicted still life in his studio with windows looking down on the city and the bay. So I bought a catalog containing pictures of his paintings.
I wanted to find books about Basque history and language, and asked the museum staff about them. They didn't have any in stock, but knew the titles of a couple of books. I later looked them up at www.amazon.com and found two books that I liked. One of them was by Larry Trask, who was the leading authority on the Basque language. I also found his personal webpage, which his university had kept after his recent death, and it summarized some of his conclusions.
The Basque language, which is called Euskara, is not an Indo-European language. Many linguists have tried to link it to other European and non-European languages, but those links have been discredited according to Trask. The Basque speakers were in the region before speakers of European languages (such as those that became Celtic, Spanish, and French) arrived. Hence they have always considered their culture as being different than Spanish and French culture. There were other groups in Spain who spoke other non-European languages as well, but several of those languages became extinct.
There has been a militant separatist organization, the ETA, but it seems to be less violent now that the Basque country and several other areas are Autonomous Regions in Spain. They are able to use their own languages and make budgetary decisions. All of the street signs in San Sebastian are in two languages, Euskara and Spanish. The Basque name of the city is Donostia, which appears in publications alongside San Sebastian.
At 9 PM, I met my roommates and other friends at Restaurant Gandarias which we had liked on Tuesday. We had to wait until 10:30 to get a table for 12, so we had tapas as appetizers. We had a great time. I left at 1 AM to get some sleep, but only slept 3 hours and then couldn't go back to sleep again. Maybe I was anxious about oversleeping and missing my 9:05 flight. I have never had so many problems with jetlag and inability to sleep on a trip before.
I lay in bed and relaxed, then lugged my belongings to the taxi stand at 7:30. I expected a taxi to arrive in 5 minutes as is the case in the evening, but had to wait more than 30 minutes that morning. I was getting concerned, but not yet panicked when one finally came. However, when I arrived at the airport at 8:30 expecting the flight to board, people were still waiting in a long line to check in. The flight was delayed half an hour, waiting for the plane to come from Madrid. I changed planes in Madrid to fly to London, then changed planes again to fly to Los Angeles.
I was exhausted when I got home. But I only had one day before I hopped a plane to Seattle and then Yakima to take my son camping and boating with my brother on the Columbia River. I was still tired when I got home again two weeks later!