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Listen to Excess Baggage for

01 September 2007


The Basque country has much to offer the visitor, from the bull run in Pamplona, and traditional sports like rock lifting and log chopping, to the modernity of the Guggenheim Museum and the region’s reputation as a gastronomic paradise.  Sandi Toksvig is joined by journalist and author, Paddy Woodworth to find out how the darker side of the Basque country, separatist terrorism, has affected the tourist trade.

The Republic of Cape Verde is an independent state on an archipelago off the west coast of Africa. It has a subtropical climate but frequent droughts mean that agriculture is unreliable and its economy relies mainly on the service industries. Its wildlife has several unique native species of birds and the Cape Verde Giant Gecko; Darwin visited it on his Beagle voyage.

Journalist and photographer, Frances Linzee Gordon, first went to Cape Verde 6 years ago and spent a few weeks visiting all the inhabited islands; Lecturer and writer, Toby Green did his PhD about Cape Verde and in his latest book talks about those who fleeing the Inquisition went to Cape Verde.

They discuss Cape Verde, from its remarkable history as a centre of the slave trade to its current development as a centre of the tourist trade.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig

Eating tapas at a bar in the old part of town, San Sebastian, Donostia, Basque Country, Spain

Photo: Eating tapas at a bar in the old part of town, San Sebastian, Donostia, Basque Country, Spain

This week’s guests:

Paddy Woodworth is an investigative journalist and regular visitor to the Basque country.  He is the author of Dirty War, Clean Hands: ETA, the Gal and Spanish Democracy.  Paddy is currently pursuing freelance writing projects, a novel set in Basque country, a comparison of the Northern Ireland and the Basque conflicts.

About two thirds of the Basque Country is in Spain and one third in France.  In 2006 the separatist movement ETA declared a "permanent ceasefire", after nearly 40 years fighting for independence from Spanish and French authorities.  But in June this year ETA officially ended it.  In the last few weeks there have been arson attacks especially on the French side of the border against second home owners, from Paris and other places in Europe including the UK.

Despite the violence, Paddy found that the Basques are friendly to tourists.  There are plenty of places to visit; Pamplona and the running of the bulls, Guernica - the site of the civil war battle and subject of Picasso’s famous painting, the elegant Biarritz. Modern attractions include some of the world’s top surfing and the skiing in the Pyrenees in winter.  The big tourist icon is the ultra modern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao designed by Frank Gehry.

Dirty War, Clean Hands: ETA, The GAL and Spanish Democracy
Publisher: Cork University Press
ISBN-10: 1859182763
ISBN-13: 978-1859182765

The Basque Country: A Cultural History
Publisher: Signal Books Ltd
ISBN-10: 1904955312
ISBN-13: 978-1904955313

Frances Linzee Gordon is a travel journalist and photographer.  She has travelled to more than 50 countries, and has contributed travel articles, books, and photos to a variety of international publications. Frances lectures and interviews on travel and tourism around the world.

Frances is co-author of the Lonely Planet’s guide to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti and the Lonely Planet’s Morocco and has contributed to their guide to West Africa, as well as Africa on a Shoestring, Western Europe and Mediterranean Europe.

Frances visited Cape Verde six years ago and visited all the inhabited islands – at the time it was quite easy to get from one to another by plane.  She found the country not expensive with a good infrastructure and not too crowded.   Frances did some diving, for which the islands are very good and saw rare species of fish, mammals and turtles.  But because of the strong currents, diving in many parts is not for the beginner.

Toby Green is a lecturer and writer, and the author of several books on history, including ‘Saddled with Darwin’, ‘Meeting the Invisible Man’, (both travel books on South America) and ‘Thomas More's Magician’ .

Toby first went to Cape Verde in 1999.  He spoke Spanish and Portuguese and had travelled widely in the Latin world as well as Senegal and Guinea Bissau but was pretty uninformed about the islands so decided to investigate.  He has made two subsequent trips and is going back in a couple of months for the fourth time.  Each time Toby stays for about a month and has visited all but two of the main islands.  When travelling in the islands he often stays with a family or on a farm or little guest houses which are clean and pleasant without being luxurious.

Inquisition: The Reign of Fear
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN-10: 1405088737
ISBN-13: 978-140508

 Music: Tudo Tem Se Limite (track 3)
Performer: Cesaria Evora
CD title: Cesaria
CD label: RCA 74521246562


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Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info
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