Traveling around Spain, sixth stop: Basque Country
Napisany przez Sara Muñiz Noya, 20 stycznia 2020
Tourism in Euskadi has increased considerably in recent years, something that does not surprise us at all, since this Spanish autonomous community has much to offer the traveler: one of the best gastronomies in the world, examples of avant-garde architecture, beaches surrounded by nature…
There are many reasons why it is worth traveling to this corner of the north of the Iberian Peninsula, but today we are going to talk about 7.
1. FOR ITS MAIN CITY (Bilbao)
They called it the „gray city”, but today Bilbao is an example of urban reconversion that is a global scale model. Its industrial past made it look „off.” But none of that can be intuited today when walking its streets. It is a city full of life, people on bicycles, and lively streets. And an intense cultural life with an epicenter at the Guggenheim Bilbao contemporary art museum, a milestone that marks a before and after in its history. But if we concentrate only in its streets, in its urban life, in architecture, Bilbao surprises with its worthy deployment of a big city. And without a doubt, it will be the starting point to start exploring this autonomous community close to the Cantabrian Sea.
The urban reconversion of Bilbao is such that in 2010 he won the „Nobel” prize for urban planning (the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize). And even with all the changes at street level, Bilbao offers traditional postcards unavoidably with the Basque Country stamp.
2. FOR ITS LOVELY VILLAGES
But if ours is not so much about going to cities and large-scale urban proposals, in the Basque Country there is a collection of towns to which more beautiful. It is a matter of encouraging a roadtrip to enter a state of charm with cobbled streets, stone facades and flowery balconies, as well as medieval walls and hulls.
But if you want to sign up to beautiful villages in the Basque Country, there are many more to take note of: Elantxobe, Getaria, Lekeitio, Elciego, Laguardia, Pasajes, Zumaya, Mundaka, Elorrio…. and so many more.
3. FOR HAVING ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL URBAN BEACHES IN EUROPE.
Donostia – San Sebastián, has such a special beach in terms of water tones and transparency. And if you go one day with the calm sea, it surprises you much more. The Concha Bay of San Sebastián is recognized in numerous publications as one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Europe. And when one walks all that environment, or goes up to the viewpoints, one ends up understanding the reason. La Concha Bay has a shell shape (as the name implies). It adds two beaches (de la Concha, and Ondarreta) and contains the island of Santa Clara. Its geographical situation makes its waters remain calm. The sandy beach is extensive, and around this paradise of the Cantabrian Sea, the elegant city of San Sebastián is located.
4. FOR ITS LANDSCAPES
To say that when traveling the interior routes of the Basque Country one can feel in a “small Swiss” it may sound exaggerated (because in reality the mountains are not so high). However, the intense green, the villages (of Basque architecture, of course), and the color can make us believe that we are in the perfect mountain paradise. And in the Basque Country there are mountains „to revoke”. And if we add to that the encounter of that green and mountainous landscape with the Cantabrian Sea, the combination ends up being perfect. Basque Country offers a collection of valleys, forests, estuaries and beautiful coasts that invite you to enjoy nature.
5. FOR ITS GASTRONOMY
You will find one of the best collections of recipes and gastronomic style of the entire Iberian Peninsula. Ingredients of the Cantabrian Sea (especially fish and shellfish), of the rural interior meats and products of the land. In each street there is a pintxos bar (pinchos), which can become a culinary art to taste on terraced tables in the towns and cities squares. For more information, the Basque Country has the largest collection of Michelin stars in restaurants in the Iberian Peninsula. So be prepared to enjoy the palate too.
If we want to try the typical thing, we must not miss the opportunity to taste porrusalda (leeks and fish broth), marmitako (bonito stew), sausages, cod pil pil (cod prepared in a casserole with olive oil, garlic and chilli peppers), hake in green sauce. And of course, the pintxos, usually a slice of bread on which different rations of typical foods are combined, all held by wooden sticks. Normally the cold pintxos are in sight in the bars of each bar and they can be asked indicating which one we want. But there are also hot pintxos that ask the waiter to be prepared at the moment. They are usually accompanied with red wine or beer. And there’s nothing like sitting at sunset at an outdoor table, tasting pintxos and watching life and people go by.
6 .FOR ITS “FANTASY” SITES
And what else can be missing from all of the above? I don’t know if more is needed, but the Basque Country has more to dazzle us. There are landscapes that seem out of a medieval fantasy. A good example is the islet of Gaztelugatxe, used as a location in the filming of scenes of Games of Thrones. And it is that its uniqueness is not for less: a rocky island connected by a gigantic zigzagging staircase that reaches a hermitage that counts centuries.