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Basque Cider House Rocks!

Basque Cider House

Any self-respecting trip to Donostia/San Sebastián has to include a visit to a Sagardotegi – A Basque Cider House. Traditional houses, dotted all over the hills in the hinterland around San Sebastián open their doors in spring. An invitation for foodie folk to come and enjoy the splendid results from the winter’s fermentation!

Cider

The autumn and winter months allow the juices of last season’s apples to ferment gently. Tanks and Chestnut tuns are used to create this heady brew. Popular for centuries by Basque sailors, its ant-scurvy properties enabled long voyages… Newfoundland, its whales and banks of cod were a mere row across the ocean! The result is a scrumpy-like concoction, full of acids and green flavours. Sour and sweet, fizzy yet flat…. There are many types and commercialisation has not pervaded into the production in the vast majority of thee family-run enterprises. Some now open all-year round, but we at Basque Experiences prefer the local ones. Family-run, friendly, smiles all-round and that warm welcoming feeling, and way better food & service than some of the larger ones!

Larre-gain.com

Larre-gain is a family-run business, located way up in the hills behind Hernani. With views of San Sebastian and the stunning Aiako Herria Natural Park, the location is spectacular. Small scale like I said but well respected! Guardian top 10 Cider Houses say so!

The menu; Salt-cod omelette, Fried Salt Cod, Bone-in steak and walnuts & cheese is classic. Quantities are always perfect, but the quality, and my fellow steak experts were speechless, was 10/10. The steak was superb we have to say! Check the pics! Many samples of cider later and we were part of the crowd! Serving the Cider from the barrels like we were born with apples trees coming out of our ears! What a great laugh!

San Sebastian

Staying for a weekend in one of the small hostels or great hotels in this great town is a perfect city break. Even Bilbao, the larger brother to San Sebastián is only an hour by bus (c.16€) and gives another angle to the Basque Country with more nightlife and variety. Wherever you stay though, the Sagardotegi is a must! As is the Gin ‘n’ Tonic we are so famous for as a digestif!! See you here soon! TXOTX!!!!

  • Cider Barrels
  • San Sebastian
  • Basque Cider House
  • Basque Cider House
  • Basque Experiences

 

 

 

Eneko – Michelin Star Restaurant

Eneko Restaurant

Hidden away up in the hills close to Bilbao sits a restaurant that has been gaining international acclaim. The Azurmendi is a Three Michelin Star restaurant that was named as 38th best restaurant in the Worlds’ 50 Best awards in 2017  However, it has a little brother, called Eneko

This off-shoot has been created by the Azurmendi’s main chef and owner, Eneko Atxa with the intention of making the restaurant more accesible. A holder of one Michelin Star by itself, the menu is focused on local provenance.

We at Basque Experiences were delighted to be invited in early March to sample the magnificent dishes…  The visit also included a tour and tastings of txakoli wines produced at their own Bodega!

Menu

Local produce is fundamental here and the principle runs through the Menu. Wines were their own; Gorka Izagirre, G22, 42, and Arima as well as a Campillo from Rioja Alavesa. Seven courses of which some of which you can see n the photos! Can you guess what was used though? The variety of methods, ingredients and presentation was great, and everything was delicious!! I had a couple of favourites but I am not going to give the game away… You will have to come with us and try or let us reserve a table for you and your group…

Pizarro

Talking groups, we have our Pizarro ‘Basque’ Gastronomy Tour in late 2018. For our final day with Jose Pizarro we will be visiting the Azurmendi Restaurant and kitchens, a unique chance to dine and discover this superb restaurant!

  • Basque Hake
  • Egg.... and peppers and corn....
  • Foie or Chestnut
  • Olives
  • Rich beef
  • Eneko's Team
  • Eneko restaurant
  • Dessert

Sailing with us along the Basque Coast!

Basque Coast Sailing

Come join us sailing for a fantastic perspective on our beautiful country. Rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, fishing villages, flysch and the odd film set…   Game of Thrones style

Basque Experiences and their partner arrange superb, tailored sailing trips from the port of Santurtzi, one of the historic fishing towns on the Bilbao estuary. Fully insured and using expert skippers and the best vessels you are in safe hands! Whether you are experiences sailors or beginners, the trips are special.

Bilbao and the River

Embarking from Santurtzi we can cruise inland towards Bilbao. Past the UNESCO Industrial Heritage Site of the Hanging Bridge. Incidentally the first of its kind in the world and the only such listed site in Spain. Up-river and past old steel-works and shipyards, upto San Mames stadium and the incredible Guggenheim Museum. Or cruise around the Abra, the entry to Bilbao. See Getxo Algorta, Las Arenas and Portugalete on a morning cruise.

Weekends on the Coast

Alternatively take a weekend trip along this gorgeous and rarely seen coast. Head towards Castro Urdiales for lunch or east past Plentzia, Bermeo, Lekeitio and onto the fishing villages of Zumaia and finally San Sebastián. The French coast is also close,with gorgeous harbours at Hendaye and St Jean de Luz. Want to learn? Well we can arrange courses for you with a fully qualified sail school, skippers and instructors. Is fishing your thing? Well we can put lines out for Tuna, feather for Mackerel and jig for squid... depends on your taste! Combine a morning onboard a yacht with a cycling tour on electric bikes with our friends at www.deskonecta.com… Just drop Basque Experiences a line!!

  • Sailing Bilbao
  • Hanging Bridge
  • Sailing Basque
  • Basque Experiences

Destination Pamplona Navarra

Navarra

Nestled between the Pyrenees and the Spanish plains, sits the province of Navarra. Neighbour and family to the Basque Country.

Known to some as the home of the Running of the Bulls and Hemingway’s Pamplona, its a little-known gem.

An ancient kingdom, with its own castles, palaces, cathedrals, fortresses and charming hidden villages. Preserved over time, Navarra is home to many many surprises, and now Basque Experiences is opening its doors for you…

Navarra Tours

The city of Pamplona, ancient, historic and full of surprises. Home to the Running of the Bulls in July, the inspiration to Hemingway’s ‘Fiesta’ is a charming mediaeval walled city.  Its palaces, castles, churches and cathedral are those of an ancient capital. Founded by Romans, invaded by Barbarians, fought over by Spain, history seeps from its stone walls.

Less than 2 hours drive from Bilbao airport and 4 from Madrid, its also well connected by train. Five star hotels, Michelin Starred restaurants, local produce and wine, Pamplona is a real capital. Mountains and hiking, Basque villages and culture to the north. The south sees wine, fields of wheat, orchards and deserts. Used many times as a film location, Game of Thrones being a recent highlight.

A long weekend, or part of a longer multi-day Tour, Navarra and Pamplona are a special destination. Off the route for many visitors outside of the July Running of the Bulls shenanigans, its a warm and dry city, easily visited on foot. And for those who do wish to walk, its the first major stop on the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St James!!

  • Olite Castle
  • Pamplona Bulls
  • Bardenas Desert Navarra
  • Pamplona Town Hall
  • Pamplona Cathedral
  • Olite

 

A Wine Tour from Bordeaux to Bilbao

New Wine Tour….

Bordeaux to Bilbao! That was the idea we came up with back in spring 2016, for some clients who visited us in 2015 on a private wine tour from Bilbao to Barcelona! They loved it so much we agreed to create a new tour for them. This time to take in the SW of France, the world’s most famous wine producing region along with the French Basque Country and the wines and gastronomy of the Spanish Basque Country…

 

Chateau and Cite du Vin

Bordeaux is the city of wine par excellence. Historic, traditional yet modern, regenerated and home to truly spectacular wines. The Cite du Vin, family owned Chateau Lamothe du Haux and the magnificent Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte all combined with our own excellent private guide. Visits to the charming and stunning St Emilion, fine dining in superb restaurants. Not a bad way to start the tour…

Biarritz and San Sebastian

The French Basque Country is sometimes passed by… It’s more recognised neighbour, San Sebastian gets the limelight these days. But Biarritz with its aristocratic past, belle-epoque architecture beautiful beach and elegant residents means a visit is always a must. Lunch at a riverside restaurant in Bayonne was followed by a visit to a D.O. Espelette red pepper farm before heading to San Sebastian for what was a long yet fascinating day. The Hotel Villa Soro certainly makes up for it though!! Visits to Getaria to learn and sample our indigenous Txakoli wine before an evening experiencing the Sagardotegi… The Basque Cider House!

Urdaibai and Bilbao

Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor to the Basque Country, writing, making friends and generally enjoying the finer things in life that we have to offer here! There is no better way to learn about his exploits than taking a slow boat along the Oka River in the stunning Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. Sampling local cheeses and preserves, tasting local Txakoli and sing sea-shanties and whaler’s songs is a great way to spend a day before heading into Bilbao and the chic Hotel Miro

Our week of wine and Basque Culture was rounded off with visits to two superb wine-makers. Torre de Oña in Laguardia and the stunningly located Bodega Contino. Here our farewell visit was rounded off with a delicious lunch… The swaying trees provided the shade as as a warm breeze blew through the vines…