Exploring the País Vasco

This past weekend we visited the neighboring region of the Basque Country. The Basque Country is a unique part of Spain primarily for its separatist tendencies and its Basque language, which is totally unrelated to all other Indo-European languages. Since Franco’s death, Basque usage has been on the rise. This becomes very evident as one travels through the region, with many smaller towns only posting signs in Basque. This made for some confusing moments in the car. Still, we found the Basques we encountered willing and able to speak Spanish to us in person.

We started off along the Basque coast and went through a couple of really charming Basque fishing towns, Bermeo and Lekeitio.

We then went southeast into the most Basque part of the Basque Country…Guipúzcoa. There, all the other hikers we overheard were speaking Basque among themselves. It was a beautiful day for hiking and we enjoyed arguably some of the best forests in all of Spain.

We also made a stop in the small Basque town of Oñati. It doesn’t have a huge national significance but was well preserved with an old world feel.

The last stop on the tour was the capital of the País Vasco: Vitoria-Gasteiz. Vitoria is largely off the American tourist circuit of Spain. However, it was well worth a day visit and offers a very nice medieval old town, great pintxos (Basque tapas), and pleasant tree-lined avenues. Though Vitoria is the Basque capital, we felt as though we had returned to Spain, as Castillian was the only language we heard spoken on the streets.

Vitoria ended our sightseeing in the Basque Country this time. I’m sure we will be back soon to see it’s most famous seaside city…San Sebastián.











2 thoughts on “Exploring the País Vasco

  1. Very interesting pictures . . . did you notice any of the separatist movement? For a while it was very active as the Basque wanted their own country and identity. It sounds as if they have preserved some of the identity with language. Again, the Tour de France goes into this area every year. Some of the mountains they climb are Luz Ardiden, Col d’Aubisque, Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Agnes, Plateau de Beille. Lots of suffering on these hills. Not sure if any of them are in Spain or all are in France, I know that from time to time they actually do go into Spain during the ride and I also think that the Basque country is in both Spain and France. Take care.

  2. Just you wait until you see San Sebastian, it’s bonitíssima!
    And I can tell Mr Boyd that after living in Bilbao for 6 months,I saw and heard a lot about ETA. During Semana Grande, Bilbao’s biggest and best party week in August, there were numerous protests involving ETA members and if you venture into deepest darkest Basque Country (Guernica, for example), the Basque culture is much more evident.
    Guernica is definitely worth a look Andrew and Amanda, I wrote my Year Abroad essay on the impact of the bombing there in 1936 and its legacy on Spain today. Very very interesting “Museo de la Paz” there 🙂

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