Tour in Euskalerria – Basque Country
Thinking of visiting the Basque Country? Then this article is for you: a 5/6 day mini tour, with all the must sees and dos!
Day 1 – Bilbao
Once industrial city overlooking the Nervión river, over the last 20 years Bilbao has gone through a total makeover turning the city into a dynamic and enjoyable place, perfect to spend a couple of days in. A beautiful walk along the river unites the most interesting areas of the city: the Casco Viejo, the original center of Bilbao packed with bars and restaurants, the La Vieja district, today a multicultural area with alternative venues and shops, and finally the more fashionable area around the Guggenheim Museum.
I suggest to stop by Café Bar Bilbao (Plaza Nueva 6) where you can spend an entire evening dedicated solely to pintxos (basque version of tapas) for just 2 € each!. A must try is the pastry one filled with chorizo, soft cheese and topped with capsicum jam. Also worth trying is the pintxo with bell pepper stir-fry, fresh tuna and fried seaweed.
Day 2 – San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
I strongly recommend renting a car and driving over to Gaztelugatxe (opt for secondary roads for a very scenic route). The hinterland rich in mountains and lush, green woods that leave space for clearings with grazing sheep or horses, before hitting the coast offering spectacular views. Gaztelugatxe, just 40 km from Bilbao, is a small island connected to the mainland by a winding stone staircase, with more than two hundred steps leading up to the St. John Baptist hermitage. Despite rivers of people visiting Gaztelugatxe for being one of the shooting locations of the famous tv series Game of Thrones, it is certainly worth a visit. After the grueling ascent, reward yourself with a couple of pintxos and zuritos (a half pint of local beer) at the only bar located at the very beginning of the walking path. Despite its privileged position the bar keeps the prices honest and the quality fair.
Day 3 – Donostia, a.k.a. San Sebastian (see the previous article)
Recommended stay at least 2 days.
Day 4 – Getaria
A few kilometers from San Sebastian, you will come across this quaint fishing village, where the daily fresh catch from the waters of Biscay Bay has a primary role in the life of this small town. You can find several restaurants, which despite the hordes of tourists, serve excellent quality grilled fish. Let your senses guide you right to the giant grids where the asador experts cook sea bream, turbots, soles and sardines to perfection. My advice is to enjoy a simple lunch, with excellent fresh grilled fish, sprinkled with olive oil, and served with fried garlic and boiled potatoes.
A special mention also goes to the Politena restaurant (Calle de Nagusia, 9) which offers the richest, most varied and extensive selection of pintxos I have seen during my entire stay in the Basque Country and of great quality too!
Day 5 – Cider House
In Basque Country cider is a very popular drink and the area around San Sebastian is home to numerous cider houses that, along with their cider offer traditional tasting menus accompanied by freshly brewed cider (this is a seasonal event, best to visit from January to May). The cider houses are a sort of Spanish pubs equipped with long wooden tables and huge barrels that you can draw cider from to serve yourself. We chose Petritegi Cider House where the traditional menu starts with grilled chorizo sausages and omelette with cod and onion, then there is fried cod fillets and stir-fried green peppers, followed by a juicy and tender T-bone steak. To round off, they serve the local idiazabal cheese with quince jelly. You won’t be disappointed!
Mattarelloaway is a project based on cultural-culinary exchange. It is rooted in an idea that knowledge of and understanding between people and their cultures are strongly linked to the typical foods of the area they come from. In other words, Mattarello(a)way is also a discovery journey offering a privileged glimpse at traditional cuisines in a most intimate and authentic way.
The project was founded in 2014 by a dynamic duo consisting of Candida - an itinerant chef and Sanja - a gourmet polyglot.
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