Monthly Archives: October 2008

Exploring the countryside

During the last Saturday dinner, made by my Slovak, Russian and Italian friend, me and some of my Erasmus friends decided to go walking in the nature on Sunday.

So after I made us some lunch on Sunday we took the bus from Arrasate to Oñati because I knew from an earlier walk on Saturday with my Brazilian friend, Taric, that the countryside there is amazing.

At two we arrived in charming little Oñati. We walked past the old monistory, the building of the oldest university in the Basque Country, the big old church, the monument of the Twinning Project and true the small streets.

It is because of all these old monumenst that I call it charming little Oñati, I just love them because it feels like you are going back to another century when you are near them.
Around three we reached the border of Oñati, the temperature was about twenty-five degrees at that time so it was the perfect moment for a nice walk true the nature.
A lot of fields, old farms, stock of cattle and of course beautiful views because we were walking true the mauntains were amazing all of us.

Taric was our guide for that day because he had taken the route that we were walking before. Only his earlier walk got an unexpected end because he bumped into a very angry animal that scared the hell out of him and that made him run back home like speedy conzales!

Of course all of us were very curious about the animal that made our Brazilian friend run. It was around five when we all walked very cheerfully on a path when Taric suddenly said “This is it, the animal that chased me!”. It turned out to be a ewe, a family of the sheep that little childeren in the Netherlands just love to pet and feed. So we coudn’t help it but we had a good laugh about his pursuer.

We decided to walk back because we all were getting al little hungry but before we went back to Oñati we made sure that we had taken enough pictures of the countryside.
Around seven we returned at the flat of Taric and Adriana, she is my Mexican friend who is going to spend her Chirstmas with me in the Netherlands this year!
Starving from our more then three hour walk we digged in to the delicious pasta that Taric prepared for us.

That night I had no trouble sleeping after, again, such a nice weekend with my Erasmus family.

All adjusted

Saskia and Chiara

Saskia and Chiara

When I decided to go to the Basque Country last year I told all of my friends and family in the Netherlands that they would be more then welcome to visit me. And they still are but at the same time, and I feel bad while I am typing this, they aren’t..

After spending two months in the Basque Country I feel like I am having a life here, it is of course a different life compared to the one that I was used to in the Netherlands but it really feels like my life. And I really don’t want it to turn back into my old Dutch life any time soon.
I started to realize all of this when my family started to visit me. In a normal week here I go to school, have nice dinners and parties with my funny housemates and friends here or I just do whatever I feel like. But now people have started to visit me and with the knowledge that more are coming it feels like I don’t time enough anymore to just life my relaxed Basque life.

There aren’t many weeks left here in which nobody is visiting and I can just hang out with the locals or do things spontaneous. I love all my visitors for coming but at the same I’m looking forward to the day they are leaving because then I can just do my own thing again. That feels really rude and ungrateful to write down because after all they are coming here for me but I will try to explain..

When somebody is visiting me then of course I will do my best to show them the most interesting sides of the Country and life in it.

Patty and Saskia

Patty and Saskia

I want them to enjoy their little vacation here and in my opinion being a good host is important then. Because it is all new to my Dutch compatriots I’m afraid that they might miss out on very nice things here when I will just drag them into my daily routine. Also I can’t try to improve my Spanish or Basque on the streets because it is impolite to them to speak in a language that they don’t understand. So I automatically adjusted my own days and manners here to theirs while they are visiting and that slows me down a bit in exploring everything during my little four month adventure here.

The winter is coming over the Country now, that is really noticeable outside. For sure people will change their daily routines because they can’t be living on the streets all the time like they did the last sunny months.

Because I just arrived last September I only know the way of living here while the sun is making it nice and warm outside so being on the streets everyday is a pleasure. Now that it is winter I would love to get to know the way of living during the cold season as well. I can imagine people still meeting on the streets but now for going inside where it is warm and cozy. But I don’t want to just imagine it I want to be a part of it. So I hope that the few personal weeks that I have left here will be enough for that.

Next to that I’m far from done with meeting new people here, getting to know what keeps them busy and meeting their families and friends or going to there houses.

Tieme and me visiting Gorka and his family

Tieme and me visiting Gorka and his family

So the feeling about having visitors is a little bit strange and mixed, the only certain thing that I’ve realized now is that I’m all adjusted to a Basque life.

I like it.

Traditional party in Gernika, a lovely way to finish off the weekend

Weekends here just seem to keep going.. If you’re lucky, you catch a good Thursday night out in a student town, like I had in Arrasate. On Fridays people take it fairly easy, by having dinner with their friends or family. The one I was invited to happened to be in Donostia, were some of my Basque friends are from. We had a lovely night, meeting lots of people and the next day I found myself enjoying pintxos, some cider and a few welcome sunbeams. The following day another Basque ‘laguna’(Basque friend), took me for some hiking in the mountains near Gasteiz. This all seems like a pretty good weekend, but then Gernika was mentioned.. A big farmers market filled with good, fresh food, followed by a party? That just sounded too good not to go!


The bus trip from my town Arrasate was interesting. I had to take three different busses to get there. But I had a great conversation in the bus with a guy who wrongly interpreted my question to speak slower, he just spoke louder.. Que fuerte!


 In Gernika, I went strolling over the market, and what they said was true. People from all over the Basque Country(including Navarra and the French Basque Country) were there to sell own grown farm products such as fruits, vegetables, sheep cheese, cider and txakoli.


It was a pretty sight to see all these stands with farmers selling their own growing’s. The best stands for me were the cheese stands, they always had something to taste, or they sold a pintxo for a Euro. I would have loved to buy everything, but after a big piece of bread, some chestnuts and sheep cheese, my backpack was full, but even that was bearable. I took a cider and another pintxo, while struggling trough the crowd, praying for the rain to wait a few more minutes.
Well, it didn’t, the 100.000 people that were in Gernika had to find shelter somewhere. So the streets turned in to a sea of umbrellas, too bad for the farmers, cause there was still plenty of good cider to be poured.
But where there’s a will.. while many people went into the bars to continue the good times and some more Basque music there, others faced the rain and rewarded themselves with a talo, a corn tortilla, usually filled with chorizo.This whole fair went on the whole day, with as a climax the voting for the best sheep cheese. The lucky winner sold his for 4000 Euros!  
After the fair, the festivities continued in the many bars the town has. I felt a great Basque spirit around me, this was my first encounter with a group of friends that actually speaks Euskera together. Even I managed to use my very, very limited Basque, ordering drinks or while pretending to be a local. Besides the laughs I got, they really appreciate it when a foreigner at least bothers to speak a little. I spent a joyful night with Gotzon and his friends, visiting bars, meeting people, eating talo and drinking a cider or a less traditional Heineken. Now I really believe this is the best day to enjoy Gernika!


Still wonder where that damn tree is…