The province of Bizkaia (Biscay) in the Basque Country is characterized by two major influences;
the green verdant interior with its rolling hills, jagged mountains, vast forests, industrial towns and small villages, and the spectacular, rugged Atlantic coast, with its small fishing harbors, hidden inlets, islands, and beautiful beaches.
Both have contributed greatly to the character of the Basque Country, and Bizkaia in particular, with their influences felt in cuisine, society, folklore, the economy and even in the unique language.
We had the pleasure this week of accompanying C&C from Ontario on a personalized tour of the Basque Province of Bizkaia enabling them to see first hand, these two different environments that so influence Basque culture and society. That of the Mountain and the Sea.
Blessed with good weather and a warm southerly wind, we set off from Bilbao’s cruise ship terminal in Getxo and headed inland to the green mountainous region near Durango. Donning our walking shoes, we headed into theUrkiola Natural Park past pines, beeches, oaks, and birches, not to mention horses, cattle and sheep! The clear skies afforded us fantastic views over the peaks of Anboto, Mugarra, Alluitz and further south west to Gorbea. Vitoria was clearly visible as was Monte Oiz and the Bay of Biscay to the north, and further west the Sierra Salvada and the Cantabrian mountains.
A good two hours later and back in the car we headed north through villages of Bizkaia, past small baserris (traditional Basque farmhouses) and the green and forested slopes before heading down to the spectacular Atlantic Ocean. The Bay of Biscay didnt fail us as the sea was at its most potent, a high tide and large waves welcomed us to Lekeitio where we took care to avoid the spray and waves crashing over the sea wall. A stroll around this beautiful fishing village before a lunching in a local restaurant and a ‘menu del dia’.
Back in the car we skirted around the coast to the tiny village of Ea where we had our coffee watching the tide force its way up the tiny river, whilst listening to the locals gossip… Awake now we headed back at a leisurly pace making stops at the fishing town of Bermeo and on past the spectacular San Juan de Gaztelugatze before heading back past Bakio, Armintza and Plentzia before and early evening finish in Getxo. A full day but one of contrasts and experiences rarely seen by most visitors…