Tag Archives: Tourism

Castles in the Basque Country I. Castle of Butrón

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The castle of Butrón corresponds to the romantic idea of a castle. Located in Gatika, 20 miles from Bilbao, it was a mediaeval fortress built on the XIII century, that served as defensive tower in the fights that took place for centuries between Oñacinos and Gamboinos, the two big families that dominated the Basque Country in the Middle Ages. On the XVI century another castle was built on its place, and then it was abandoned for many years until the Marqués de Cubas recontructed and gave its present shape on the XIX century.butrón 1

At present, it belongs to a private company, it has served as restaurant for some years but it´s currently closed for visits. In any case, the views and the pictures you can take are spectacular. It is surrounded by a luxurious tree garden, with exotic species, and the visit is really worth it.

Cozy and Comfy Rural Lodging

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For those of you visiting the Basque Country and that don´t care much about accommodation in the town center, the sensible alternative is rural lodging. By “rural” I mean “out of town”, but it may also imply closeness to nature, farm life and beautiful and idyllic surroundings. If you decide on a stay in the Basque Country on a rural home, you´ll get very good accommodation with all your primary, secondary and even tertiary necessities covered, a very good price, wonderful homemade breakfasts and all the peace and tranquility you long for, but also nice talks with the house owners, local and ecological products at hand, horse rides, beautiful trekkings,…

Some houses are better prepared than others, some have swimming pool, others offer their kitchen for private use, you may have a jacuzzi or not…but all of them pass a quality certification every year to make sure that the accommodation level is keep high.

I´m very fond of this kind of tourism, perfect to get a better understanding of our particularities. The evental language barrier will be quickly overcome by a warm welcome and a sense of immediate belonging to the place. I make my reservations through two webs, www.nekatur.net and www.agroturismosdebizkaia.com (this one, just for the province of Bizkaia), but you sure know how to google using the right words…

11 Must-Sees in the Basque Country

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The suggested routes below are, in my opinion, those places that you should visit when coming to this so much unknown country. Most are easily accessible on public transport and, except in high season, you shouldn´t worry too much about crowds.

1) DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIÁN, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe (in the world?), views from Igeldo mountain, pintxos in the Old Town, Chillida-Leku open air museum (www.museochillidaleku.com), the picturesque fishing town of HONDARRIBIA.

2) ZARAUTZ, GETARIA (wonderful promenade almost touching the sea linking both towns), grilled fish at any of the restaurants in Getaria, ZUMAIA and its beautiful church, LEKEITIO, its port, its island and the incredible retable inside its church.

3) ARANTZAZU Sanctuary (www.arantzazu.org) and OÑATI and its University(www.oinati.org).

4) SAINT JEAN DE LUZ, BIARRITZ, BAYONNE-BAIONA, in the French Basque Country (also Petit Bayonne, on the other side of the river), great chocolates and gateau basque, apart from picturesque villages and perfect beaches for surfing.

5) BILBAO, Guggenheim Museum (this was obvious!), Old Town (Casco Viejo), Funicular train to Artxanda for spectacular views of the city.

6) The HANGING BRIDGE (Puente Colgante) of Portugalete, a Unesco World Heritage Monument, unique in the world, over 110 years old and running 24 hours a day.

7) VITORIA, Old Quarter (jewish) and a guided visit to the spectacular restoration of its Old Cathedral (Ken Follett based its novel World Without End on this cathedral, so they made him a statue!)

8) ATXONDO valley, where silence can be heard, spectacular place with the mountains and sheep in the background. And several wonderful restaurants .

9) URDAIBAI Biosphere Reserve and the beaches of Laga, Laida, the town of Busturia, Mundaka (surfers´ paradise), the sea estuary, the caves of Santimamiñe and the PAINTED FOREST OF OMA. Also the steep fishing town of Elantxobe.

10) The walled towns of LAGUARDIA and LABASTIDA and the wine region of Rioja Alavesa. Not to miss the guided visits to the wine cellars underneath the town.

11) The POZALAGUA caves, in the Karrantza valley, a spectacular combination of rare stalactites and stalagmites, now specially prepared for visits with kids,, http://www.karrantza.com/?seccion=cuevas3&idioma=es.

You will not find massive tourism or tourist traps at any of these places, and distances from one to the other are not that big, so plan your visit in advance and you will make the most of this absolutely beautiful corner of the world!!

Kaixo eta Ongi Etorri!!

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or Hello and Welcome, as we say in Basque. Welcome to this blog, where I hope to be able to show, and explain, and give details, and help, and…, all those aspects of interest related to the Basque Country (not the political concept as it is nowadays, but a broader concept including those territories that are culturally Basque but politically separated) and areas nearby. We are Basques, and very proud of it (sometimes a bit too much…), and a difficult people to understand (or at least that´s what we like to think of ourselves). Yes, you´ve probably heard about our desires for independence, the “troubles”, our “bloody incomprehensible” language, our ancestral customs, the crazy rural sports based on strength or speed, our famed restaurants and pintxos, and so on. I´ll talk about it…and about many other things related to us. But I´ll focus mainly on the most appealing aspects of our culture, so when you come and visit us you may be able to discover a “different” Euskadi.

(by the way, I´m not a native English speaker, so please be kind towards my many mistakes in grammar, syntax and English spelling…)