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.