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…