Day Five - Lets ramble on South to the Monestario de Piedra

May 7, 2002

But first, let me just say that we visited the town of San Sebastian while we were in Hondarribia one day - another drizzly day. The town is large and bisected by water ways. We found a tapas bar for lunch just outside an old church. San Sebastian is the ritzy place to go during the high Summer season. It has a big half moon bay of La Concha, and they say it is the most basque of the basque cities. It is also known as Donastia as most things, places, etc. have a basque name and a spanish name. A fishing village for centuries, it became a key export city in the 16th century, for Castilian wool and other products for France, England, and later, America. The city was razed in 1813 during the Anglo-Portuguese Peninsular war. The city today is a product of the rebuilding after the withdrawal of Napeleon's troops from Spain (or so my tourist books tell me).

 Church in San Sebastian - near the water and a tapas bar we enjoyed.

May 7, 2002
 Our drive out of Hondarribia and down South was on secondary highways, which means trucks can be on them. Did we mention we drove a Peugeot Diesel five speed? Not much get and go in that thing, but it got us about. On this day, we drove along the Rio Bidosa, which I read is a great trout fishing river. Very green and lush around the river, lots of homes of various sizes here and there, and fields of crops.  Our late lunch stop was in Olite in the Navarra region. Olite, South of Pamplona, has fairy tale type medieval defensive castle, with excavation going on underground, revealing a great hall and other artifacts. The castle is called Palacio Real and there is an old building next door that was being refurbished into a Parador
 Drive South to Nuevalos  Palacio Real - Castle in Olite
 Entrance to Olite, an extensive medieval defensive castle complex known as Palacio Real, which dominates the tiny town of Olite. This castle served as the residence of various Navarran kings until the union with Castille in 1512.  Most of the castle was built in 1400 by Carlos III of Navarra. It is a complex of towers, with the centerpiece being Gran torre. Integrated into the castle, like most we visited, is a church, Iglesia de Santa maria la Real. This church contains a detailed gothic portal.
 Entering the Olite Grounds - 2.5 Euros entrance fee  outside view of the Castle
 Arial view of the towers and annexes of the castle. There is also a tremendous excavation inside the building showing small prep rooms, a former guard house. There is also a garden, a vaulted room, Hall of Arches, the Great Tower, Royal Floor, Hall of Plaster, King's Gallery, Queen's Gallery, Periphery Towers, an Ice Store, remains of the Chapel St. Jorge, an aviary garden, a mulberry garden, and an ancient palace, which now houses a Parador.  The King had a garden with hanging plants, and exotic fruit trees that were covered by hanging canopies in the winter. An irrigation system was built with lead pipes and a cistern, which allowed water to be let up to the gardens by copper scoops. There were wild animals kept as well. Records show there were lions, a camel, four African buffaloes, a giraffe, squirrels, parrots, and several other wild birds, they built a special aviary to house the birds.
 view of several towers and annexes  Shot of Olite castle from old town
 In the more shaded part of the Palace is an ice store. They stored ice and snow during the winter and were able to keep throughout the hot Olite summer. Here is a close up of some of the gothic work on the church exterior.  The entire structure fell into disrepair after after the fall of the monarchy, continued into disrepair, during the war against the French Convention, and the restoration started in the 20th Century.
 gothic details of Olite Castle  Details of the Church

Wide angle view of the Royal Palace of Olite

 wide angle view of the Royal Palace of Olite

Day 5 con't - off to Monestario de Piedra

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