Hi from Rick: Back from Basque Country
San Sebastian, Basque Country I'm working my way through a steamy pottery bowl of Ttoro described as "big fish Basque soup" by my waiter, Guy. With so many exotic fruits of the sea hiding in the red broth, I'm lost in a bibbed travel adventure. Suddenly, a troup of college coeds, dressed like medieval boy scouts, invade the tight and packed bistro. They get the nod from Guy, and began their serenade tambourines, mandolins, and soprano harmonies all on happy mode. Exploring Basque Country a new region for me reminds me of the freshness of my first European trip.
Here in San Sebastian, the locals are linguistic switch-hitters, flipping effortlessly between Spanish and their native Euskadi. Once the toast of the belle epoque, today's San Sebastian fits the needs of the backpacking crowd: no mind-numbing great museums, just great beach action, cheap rooms, and an inviting bar scene with cheap-and-tasty pintxos (buffet-style bar snacks). My favorite? Txangurro baked and stuffed spider crabs with a plate of sautéed wild mushrooms and a smoked, cod-stuffed mini-croissant...all washed down a generous selection of full-bodied Spanish wines. The cost: about $2 per tiny plate and glass. It's just another beautiful day...Basque'ing in the joys of travel.
It's been a whirlwind month. In addition to researching Basque Country for the 2004 editions of my Spain and France guidebooks, the "Rick Steves' Europe" video crew and I filmed two new TV shows Best of Madrid and Best of Castile. Tomorrow I'll join my co-author and friend Steve Smith on a research blitz through the South of France.
Meanwhile, in our June Travel News we'll bring you up to date throughout Europe, with articles taking you to London, Venice and Tarifa plus tips for connecting with locals, picnicking in Provence, and protecting your travel dollar against the suddenly-muscular Euro.
Need gear for your summer trip? Shop at our online Travel Store this month, and we'll toss in up to $30 worth of free travel gear with your purchases and send you my quarterly travel newsletter for a year. Thinking of buying a railpass? A bunch of 'em are on sale through June 15th.
The sixty of us here at ETBD are offering more than ever to help turn your travel dreams into smooth and affordable reality. Enjoy this month's Travel News. And, if your travel dreams are taking you to Europe, we'd love to help make it the trip of a lifetime.