Stranded In The Southland

Monday, June 13, 2005


Our place in Bilbao was really great, a large room, good shower, and friendly proprietress. This, when the guide was decidedly lukewarm about the place. It was even convient to the old town.

We wandered about a bit, and had a weird, but fairly decent dinner. Our waiter seemed to be having a hard time getting his act together (I´m sympathetic, I was a pretty awful busboy, myself), but the food was good, and seemed to correspond in at least some small way to what it said on the menu (the English translations were kind of a hoot, but by now I´m pretty used to the Spanish, at least for food).

And of course, we geeked out a bit. I didn´t manage to get my laptop hooked up, but the guy behind the counter sure tried hard to make it happen. The poor guy even called up his buddy in an attempt to get directions for hooking up. When I returned the next morning, we discovered that it worked fine when I used the Ethernet from a different PC, so things weren´t that bad.

The next morning, I was feeling a little out of sorts, and started out late for the train station to go to Guernica, site of the famous aerial bombardment during the Spanish Civil War. I arrived about five minutes after the hourly train left (the guidebook said it ran ever half hour), and had to knock around for a bit.

Thus I arrived just after the tourist office closed, and the really cool sounding Museum of Peace closed. I woulda been bummed, but the folks on the train had been really cool about ensuring that I got off at the right stop, and when I went to the Museum of Basque History (still open for another hour), the folks there were equally (if not more) friendly.

It´s a cute little town, but without pictures of the devastation, it was hard to tell that this happy little town had ever been pasted from the air -- even the conservative Hugh Thomas admits that at least 2,000 people died there. You can´t even blame it on the possible military target of the bridge out of town, as they pasted the town completely from 3,000 feet (incredably low to be bombing, but there were no antiaircraft defenses) and missed the bridge completely. Plus fighters strafed the villagers as they tried to run away from the bombs.

Nice job, Condor Legion. You can´t blame this all on Franco, as apparently there was some miscommunication between the Condor Legion (the German pilots flying the aircraft) and the Spanish liasons. In any case, Franco denied that this whole thing ever happened, and always claimed that the Basques blew up their own town. Uh-huh. That´d be funny of George W. Bush wasn´t blowing similar smoke about some of what went down in Iraq.

Even without the museum, it was cool to see the town that I´d read about.