National Geographic : 1922 Jan
THE LAND OF THE BASQUES On each river edge is a great tower of steel, something like a wireless tower, but more massive, over two hundred feet in height. These towers support a light iron bridge one hundred and fifty feet above the river, under which the largest steamers pass and repass night and day. From this bridge is suspended a "flying ferry" sup ported by a network of fine wire, which is pulled back and forth across the river. It hangs to within a few feet of the water. We decided to cross one Sunday when there was a festival at Portugalete. Ap proaching the win dow, we demanded: "Un billete, to go and to return, how much ?" "Dos perros gor dos." Two "fat dogs," as the Spaniards ca ll their large ten-cen time pieces of copper. Photograph by Casa Lux Then we crowded A MEDIEVAL TOwER IN TIHE BASQUE COUNTRY, WITH MODERN onto the ferry with CORRUGATED IRON SHEDS IN THE FOREGROUND some seventy laugh ing men and women bound for the fes tivities on the opposite side. The whistle blew, the bell rang, the iron gate clanged shut, and we moved smoothly out over the river through the air, as it were. The opposite shore was reached in one min ute, but it was a rather delightful little minute at that. Portugalete has narrow streets, and its balconied houses stretch picturesquely up the hillside, while at the top is an en chanting little Gothic church, which is always the way in Spanish towns. They always seem to cluster around a church or two for protection. Indeed, in Bilbao, there are no less than 75 of these pro tectors. Las Arenas, opposite Portugalete, is a modern village of seashore villas which has become popular as a summer resort. Here the Club Maritimo has its pleasant club-house, overlooking the harbor en trance, where the youths of Bilbao go in the afternoon to drink chocolate, dance, and play at caballitos, which is better known by its French appellation, "petits chevaux." THE KING MAKES AN ANNUAL VISIT FOR THE YACHT RACES The King comes nearly every summer to the yacht races and causes this little outing place to be for a few days the social center of the kingdom. He gener ally goes over to picturesque Portugalete during his stay in this section.