Rain in Spain falls mainly on San Sebastian, Holiday Shopping in Germany

 

 

San Sebastian

While “the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain” according to Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) in the 1964 film “My Fair Lady,” the rain in Spain that our tour group encountered fell mainly in the resort town of San Sebastian. As Hemingway reflected in “The Sun Also Rises”: “The trees seem as though their leaves were never quite dry.”

 

The lush hillsides were dotted with sheep, which meant Basque cheese to me. The Basque have a language, which is in no way similar to Spanish. In my quest for Idiazabal, the local cheese, I was directed to Aitor Lasa. Our Hemingway speaker for the Pamplona trip, Gabriella Ranelli De Aguirre, an ex-patriot, was also a culinary director. She assured me the shop would vacuum-seal my cheese for transport home.

 

 

Orinda’s Tom and Carol Mapes in San Sebastian, Spain

 

Carol, a member of the Council on Architecture, an Oakland Museum guild, described our journey as an architectural tour. “I really enjoyed the Codorniu winery and Casa Amatiller, designed by Josep Puig I Cadafalch,” reflects Mapes. She also admired Barcelona’s Antoni Gaudi for his forward thinking in terms of Parc Guell’s water filtration system and the use of recycled tiles at Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila. We both agreed that he was a global artist ahead of his time. Other highlights were Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim in Bilbao and Zaragoza’s Espanity fountain. Zaragoza will host the 2008 Universal Exposition based on the theme of water.

 

 UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS

 

Are you a procrastinator when it comes to gift giving? Why not be ahead of the curve this year and take off to the German “Holiday Markets of the Rhine and Main Rivers” for the outdoor Christmas markets featuring local crafts and regional cuisine. Marjory DeRoeck of Lafayette’s All About Image said, “It was a great way to get all my Christmas shopping done.”

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She left for Munich Nov. 30 from SFO, returning Dec. 6 with Vantage, on a river cruise ship, visiting markets in Würzburg, Rothenburg, Bamberg, Wertheim and Frankfurt. “We also were escorted on wonderful side trips to see such historic sights as the Heidelberg Castle, Gutenberg Museum and Cathedral, Rudesheim’s Musikkabinett, with beautiful old music boxes and player pianos, and Cologne’s Gothic Cathedral and Shrine of the 3 Magi,” said DeRoeck.

 

Orinda resident and local artist Ann Testa was drawn to the trip because she had lived in Germany in the past. “The markets are much more commercial now,” notes Testa. “Yet there are still a lot of handmade crafts.” She also remembered that they were entirely fortunate with the weather. Among the things she liked the most, “there were a lot of young Germans sitting at the food stand drinking beer and Gluwein, a type of mulled wine, and eating bratwurst. They were chatting and enjoying themselves. It was a big place to gather. No matter where I travel, I always pick up new ideas. At the Lafayette Gallery, I’ll probably have some Christmas Angels this year.”

 

 

Speaking of angels, I met Paola Gianturco at a Book Passage Travel Writers Conference this summer. The Bay Area author of “Women Who Light the Dark,” has a slew of gift giving suggestions under the “shop wisely” section of her Web site. The “shop for change” store offers products by talented craftswomen who live in areas of conflict. How about a gift that furthers peace? The Jerusalem Candle of Hope is made by women of Israel and Palestine. The candle is available through the Amber Chand Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Brown grew up in Moraga and lives in Lafayette with her husband and children. Send news of your adventures to NancyBrownConsulting@comcast.net.

 

1 thought on “Rain in Spain falls mainly on San Sebastian, Holiday Shopping in Germany”

  1. The city of Toledo is another city that has to be visited in Spain, just near Madrid, 25 minutes away from Madrid, full of culture and marvellous views, history everyway and nice people, eveyrything you could imagine.I want to tell you a little bit of my story, I went to Spain for 1 week and decided not to Stay in Madrid but in Toledo because i prefer small cities. I stayed at the Hitlon Buenavista Toledo which made my stay in spain great. From toledo i could move everywhere to all teh cities around, Madrid, Avila, Cuenca, Aranjuez and so on. If you like small cities do the same as me, stay in the best hotel of Toledo and have to chance to see this great city.

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