One of the aspects of Spain which I got increasingly excited about in the weeks building up to my flight to Bilbao was the country’s landscape. I had heard numerous times about how beautiful Spain was and after searching for pictures online, I definitely agreed. This being said, I still grossly underestimated the natural beauty of this country. In the Northeast, we have grown accustomed to mountains with gray and rocky peaks. Upon my decent into Bilbao, I found myself at eye level with some of the liveliest mountains I have ever seen. Seemingly endless amounts of these mountains stretched for miles in every direction. I noticed rather quickly that this trend would continue for my entire shuttle ride to San Sebastian.
From the moment we arrived at Ondaretta, I knew I wanted to climb Mount Igueldo (seen on the left). I knew the view from the peak was going to be breathtaking but as I said before, I grossly underestimated just how beautiful it would be. Our trek up the mountain began (as most do) at the bottom. We were told that we would ride a funicular up the mountain, and I will be honest, I was not quite sure what a funicular was, and I decided to surprise myself by not doing any research. I will say, I was definitely surprised.
I will admit, I was a bit nervous on the ride up (I was definitely more nervous on the trip down) but we made it to the top safely. We exited our funicular and were almost immediately met with one of the best views in my entire life (only to be beaten by a view that I will discuss later). All of San Sebastian was spread out in front of me. From Ondaretta to the far end of La Concha and beyond. More of these luscious mountains cascading as far as the eye could see.
As beautiful as this view is, it is limited compared to what we saw next. Of course, before we took the climb up the tower in the center of the park, we needed to ride the oldest rollercoaster in the world. While some of us may have been nervous getting on, our crew of eleven boarded the ride. We were met with the calming final message of “It was nice knowing you all” from Professor Z. but we did, in fact, all survive the one-minute ride around the peak of Igueldo.
On our climb up the countless stairs at the tower atop Igueldo, we received glimpses of the view to come at the top. Upon reaching the top of the spiral staircase, I was initially met with a blast of fresh air and the sunlight (which we had not seen in a few days). Then I was met with the view that made me feel like I was on top of the world.
We were so high up that we could see the town of Biarritz, France from 40 kilometers away. Coming from Massachusetts, I never knew just how blue water could be. Standing on top of the tower, I finally began to realize how much I had been missing by not traveling outside of the United States. I pity anyone who has not had the opportunity to experience this country’s pure beauty in person because pictures will never be able to do any of these breathtaking sights justice.
After we reluctantly came back down the mountain (after purchasing gelato of course) we took a walk along the water until we were met with a beautiful piece of art known as “The Combs of the Wind” created by sculptor Eduardo Chillida. This piece was created to show how art can be with nature. It has been said that the pieces of iron protruding from the rocks comb the air as it flows into San Sebastian. Many deeper meanings have been interpreted from “The Combs of the Wind”. My favorite interpretation explained the separate pieces and their relation to time. The three separate pieces of this work can be seen blended with the rocks in the picture below.
When standing next to the middle section of this piece, its deeper relation to time can be more easily seen. Two the right of the picture, the second-closest section of this piece, and its warped iron, can be seen. This represents Spain’s warped and dark past, kept close to us but not darkening our current lives. In the center of the photo in the piece that represents the future. It can be seen far off in the distance as something we can all look forward to. This is also not meant to be held too close to us. The closest section can be seen on the right of this photo. This represents our present. The here and now. This is arguably the most important part of this piece because it represents how we are the closest and most in control of our lives right now. There is nothing about the past we can do, and we can only look forward to the future.