Monday (7/4), we took a local bus to the nearby town of Zumaia, a charming city on the sea with a quaint port and city center. But, what makes this place truly special is the surrounding nature! Zumaia is home to incredible rock formations called Flysch. They are dramatic cliffs formed by long, vertical sheets of rock that meet the sea and are surrounded by lush green hills with cows grazing.
It was 4th of July at home, but here it was just Monday. We missed barbecues and family gatherings, but are excited about the San Fermin holiday here starting Thursday! We will take part on Friday, and head to Pamplona for what the world has come to know as the “Running of the Bulls”.
Tuesday (7/5), half the group started at the San Telmo museum & learned lots about local history and culture before getting some much desired free time. The other half of the group, having already visited the museum, got an earlier start on free time and “rebajas” (sales)! The whole month of July is sale month, and everyone is very excited to check things out!
Wednesday (7/6), we went to the nearby towns of Pasajes San Juan and Pasajes San Pedro. These tiny towns are compiled of essentially one street each, and are flanked by the river and the steep mountains rising behind them. First, we went to the albaoa museum, a space dedicated to showcasing the region’s rich history of the sea. They were known for making the best sailing vessels, and thus formed a critical part of the region and the nation’s maritime industry. We also got to see craftsman working on building an exact replica of a galleon that they will sail to Canada in a few years — it was amazing!! We then we took a small boat across to San Juan, and explored that lovely town before heading home.
Thursday (7/7), some of us enjoyed a surf class while others went to a dance lesson.
Friday (7/8): Emotions were running high despite the early morning hour of departure, as today we were on our way to Pamplona to see the world famous Running of the Bulls! We arrived at the bull ring and took our seats up high at a safe distance, where we had a bird’s eye view of both the running though the streets (on large screens) and both runners and bulls pouring into the bull ring floor. It was exciting! After the bulls came through, we watched as 6 different smaller bulls were brought into the bull ring…participants demonstrated their bravery (or stupidity) in placing themselves in the bull’s path, trying to take a selfie with a bull, or trying to touch a bull.
Then we had breakfast together, walked the official route of the bull run, and stopped for some souvenir shopping before heading back to the bus to leave Pamplona. On the way back “home” to San Sebastian, we stopped in Guerendiain, a quaint town of only 105 residents nestled quietly in the lovely Utlzama valley. We shared a typical meal together, walked through the town, and even got to see a pasture where miniature horses were being raised!
Saturday (7/9), we had a fun scavenger hunt/conversation activity in San Sebastian that encouraged students to dive deeper into the culture of their home town. Students were placed into small groups and given tasks to complete around town. After each task, they came back to report on what they learned before being given a new task. It was great fun, and a nice change of pace.
Monday (7/11), we went to the nearby town of Hondarribia. It is the last city on the northern coast of Spain before reaching France. This quaint city still has almost all of its original city walls! It is composed of the old part of town and the newer & modern port district, plus a cool beach with lots of crabs. We had fun exploring the streets of the old town, peeking into the parador (which was once the palace of Carlos V) and walking the paseo of the maritime district. Though it was raining in true Basque country form, the weather could not put a damper on the charm of this cute town.