The Basque Region
The Basque region lies in the northern part of Spain and a small region in France along the coast on the Bay of Viscaya. The rocky and rugged coast from the French resort of Biarritz west to Santander is similar to the northern California coastline. The language and culture of the Basque people is Euskadi. They have been fighting for their independence from Spain for a long time. When you drive through the region you encounter armed military or police personnel in the cities. The graffiti, displaying the fight for independence on the walls of buildings and signs is prominent throughout the Basque countryside. Bakio is surrounded by mountains and the steep cliffs line the coast along with deep green eucalyptus trees, their scent fills the air. The village church lies on a hill overlooking the town and cows graze on the same hillside. Bilbao is one of Spains largest cities and the new Guggenheim Museum featured an exhibit “Degas to Picasso”. The theme of the exhibit was the “artist and photography”. Many of Degasʼs ballet dancer paintings were done from photographs, something I wasn't aware of. An hours drive from Bakio, is the city of Gernika that was bombed by the Germans in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and is the subject of Picassoʼs famous portrayal of that horror.
Oporto and The Algarve Portugal
Driving westward through a very flat dry landscape of Spain to Oporto Portugal we stayed one night in the village of Zamora. The western region is parched and hot. On the way Oporto, in portuguese farm country we passed a shepherd with his herd of sheep and his sheepdog. The dog came over to us to check us out and I asked the shepherd if I could take some pictures by pointing to the camera. He nodded in the affirmative and the dog returned to the herd.
The Algarve coast is geographically similar to the Mediterranean French Riviera Coastline. Separated from the Mediterranean Sea by Gibraltar the Algarve is on the Atlantic Ocean. The beaches are situated in coves formed by promontories that rise out of the coastal shorelines. Every morning we were anxious to get down to the beach and start the day with a Portuguese brunch.