Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Old Fishing Port of Algorta

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puerto viejo 3Yet another place full of charm that you don´t normally visit when you come to the Basque Country. Located on the east end of the river of Bilbao estuary, it is the small fishing quarter that gave birth to the fancy suburbial town of Getxo. puerto viejo 1It consists of a group of typical fishermen´s houses, painted in white, red and green, uphill, and full of nice places to eat. But you don´t see any tourists here, it´s mainly locals, that like to walk along the beautiful promenade by the sea starting at the Hanging Bridge (www.puente-colgante.com, a Unesco World Heritage Monument, we´ll leave it for another time) and passing by the magnificent villas and mansions overlooking the beach of Ereaga, and ending at the Old Port, the Puerto Viejo.

You can also get there on bike or by car, but I recommend the walk along the beach to end having a glass of wine or beer together with a great pintxo at any of the bars on the port. Kids jump from top of the stairs to the water, just for fun, while people sit on the puerto viejo 2stone verandas watching them and enjoying an outdoor drink with some “caracolillos” (periwinkles?¿, small black sea snails, much appreciated over here) or fresh shrimp. Climbing the renovated stairs where young people like to sit, you will find a statue of a fisherwoman and a kind of shrine devoted to the Virgen del Carmen, as well as a small cozy square where you may want to sit down and enjoy some peanuts (with shell) and a drink and another pintxo. On top, after another image of the Virgin, there are three or four excellent fish restaurants (catch of the day, mainly), expensive but worth the experience.

A bit further uphill, to your left, the mirador of Usategi, for outstanding views of the bay. On the way back , there´s an elevator to your left that takes you to downtown Algorta, the metro is easily accesible from there.

(down, view of the Old Port from the beach of Ereaga)

ereaga

The best Rolls-Royce museum, and it´s in the Basque Country?

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torre loizaga 3You´d never thought that the biggest and most important Rolls Royce collection in the world would be located in much unknown area of Bizkaia province in the Basque Country. 75 unique cars, 43 of them Rolls Royce and then Lamborghini, Ferrari, Hispano-Suiza, Bentley…, all kept in perfect working condition in a beautiful tower castle located in a lush green valley just 35 kms west of Bilbao. For detailed info and pictures, torreloizaga.com, unfortunately only in Spanish, but Google offers a free and decent translation service… Sadly, its owner, founder and keeper (he was alsothe ticket seller…) died recently, so there´s some degree of uncertainty about the future of this museum. I was there last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Kids are welcome, you can take as many pictures as you want and the fortress and gardens are perfect for a bit of relax.

torre loizaga2Not far, in the Karrantza (or Carranza) valley, there are XIX century balnearies, the Pozalagua caves (one of the biggest in the world), El Carpín Zoo and Adventure Park (perfect for kids)…in an unspoilt environment, tourist-free. Two good web pages for this area are karrantza.com, and enkartur.net, luckily also in English. I also like to go to this area to enjoy “alubiadas” in a restaurant, consisting of slow cooked beans with black pudding, chorizo, bacon…as much as you can eat, followed by a huge grilled (rare, as we like it over here) T-bone steak…all for around 25 euros per person, wine included (as an example, www.enkartur.net/servicio-restaurante-la-bodeguilla-sopuerta-40.html, in Sopuerta).torre loizaga

I can´t help to think that if this museum were located in, say, the UK or the US, it would be a much visited attraction and known worldwide by car lovers. But for some reason it seems we want to hide these little gems from our visitors.