Showing posts from September, 2023

An ode to traveling and hospitality

I met Edurne and Raul in 2015 when they hosted me through couchsurfing in their cozy wee attic flat in Bilbao. It's from them that I learned about the magical place of Gaztelugatxe . Thanks to their advice, my time alone with the beauty of this marvelous spot remained a particularly memorable moment of the whole trip. Over the last eight years the threads of our travels intertwined in unpredictable and unexpected ways although we did not communicate much with Edurne and Raul after my journey to the Basque Country. Shortly before the pandemic, in December 2019, I arrived in Jerusalem. Edurne and Raul saw my Facebook check-in message and swiftly responded with their location which, as it turned out, I could almost see from my window. And there we were – eating falafel outside of the Damascus gate and discussing plans for their trip in Israel. Actually they had no definite plan and were open to my numerous travel suggestions. We ended up visiting my friend and watching the sunset o

Hike to Pagasarri. Bilbao. September 2023

Подъем на Пагасарри Пагасарри ( Pagasarri ), или просто Пага, как ее ласково называют баски, видна из любой точки Бильбао. По традиции жители города начинают подъем на эту гору прямо с порога своего дома. Затемно в лабиринте пустынных сонных улиц уже слышны постукивания деревянных посохов по мостовой. Махила ( makila ) — баскская трость — верный компаньон путников. Мерно ступая короткими шагами, взбираются они на сотни метров через изумрудный лес к вершине. К гряде лазурно-голубых пиков над шумным котлованом Бильбао. Чтобы задержать дыхание, замереть, сопротивляясь сильному ветру, не зажмуривать глаза, а впитывать, впитывать красоту.

Hike from Praia do Creiro to Praia de Alpertuche. Arrábida natural park. Portugal

Distance 7 km (gpx) , Elevation gain 349 m, Elevation loss 367 m The queens of this hike were supposed to be abandoned capelas on the hill above the Convent of Our Lady of Arrábida. Those tiny round cupcakes nestled against a lush green slope. Little did we know when we started a 200 meter climb along a narrow steep trail that we’ll end up in front of a fence. Since many abandoned places bear a hint of mystery, those capelas keep their secrets behind a closed gate and a dense forest. So we swung towards the king — the Ocean. Alpertuche Beach turned out to be a gem hidden at the end of a shady eucalyptus alley. We sat there listening to the waves and watching the colors change from turquoise to deep blue. Just before sunset, when all the vacationers had left, an elegant elderly woman came along accompanied by an old dog. She sat quietly on a rock, and from her posture one could tell that she regularly visited this spot. I asked her if she was from the area. "Yes", the w