Did you know that…? …”Way of St. James” is…

The “Camino de Santiago” is known all over the world as one of the main routes for Christian pilgrimage in Europe. All along the journey you can see a variety of landscapes and constructions dedicated to the rest and prayer of the pilgrims, some of which are authentic wonders. One of the stages to be highlighted in this aspect is the one that crosses the northern part of the Basque Country, going through the Cantatrian Cornice.
Caminante hacia Santiago Although the details of the origins of the worship to Santiago in the Ancient Age are not accurate, the remains of the apostle were found in this Galician locality in 812. As a result, the king Alfonso II ordered to build a small church, a church that has been gathering an increasing number of visitors over time. Over the centuries a lot of hostels have been built along the Santiago´s Path in order to make the way easier for pilgrims. Nowadays, many of the hostels that were built centuries ago remain in good conditions.

While the northern rout has historically been used by pilgrims coming from Nordic countries, the southern one was mainly for those coming from France. Starting the route by the banks of Bidasoa River, Irún, and ending up in the Basque villa of Muskiz, you can enjoy a road full of wonders that are waiting for you to be discovered.

There’s a stage that I would like to stand out: the one that begins from Pasaje de San Pedro. Reaching this beautiful village by boat, you will see the charming and typical fishermen’s houses. Continuing this spectacular stage along the breathtaking cliffs you will enjoy some of the best views and will visit some monasteries located in beautiful sites. Faro de la Plata (Lighthouse of the Silver) is one of the most emblematic. This monastery receives the name from the rock in which it is located, which appears to shine like silver with the light of sun.

Faro de la Plata -Camino SantiagoIn Biscay, the Path crosses its green valleys together with some appealing cities like Gernika and Bilbao. In the case of the Old Part of the latter, you will find the Santiago Cathedral, the only church dedicated to the apostle, with the exception of the one in Santiago de Compostela.

Due to this increasing importance of the Path within the Basque Country, the Basque government has declared the road on its way through the Basque Country a Cultural Property, protecting all the constructions of the road. It has also been made a great effort to establish historical and safe routes which improve the experience of the walkers who travel through it.

Now you know… are you eager to go further and discover this ancient route yourself? We know how to do it, beging the Way of St James with us;)

camino santiago

UK and the Basque Country: the perfect match

We have recently observed a considerable switch in the UK’s tourism practices. Over the years, Spain has meant an attractive destination for UK travellers linked to its enjoyable weather and its wonderful seaside. Nonetheless, there has recently been an uprising travelling trend built around gastronomy as a leisure activity.

Michelin Stars Basque chefs (from left to right): Berasategui, Subijana, Arbelaitz, Atxa, Arzak and Aduriz

Michelin Stars Basque chefs (from left to right): Berasategui, Subijana, Arbelaitz, Atxa, Arzak and Aduriz

New types of gastronomy services have burst all throughout the country. A more sophisticated and thorough cuisine, the high quality of the ingredients used and a special space designed down to every detail is on demand. Thus, it brings us back to the Basque culinary movement of the 70’s, a trend strongly linked to our beliefs.

Furthermore, we should also highlight the strong relevance that the Wine Culture has been gaining since the 90’s; it now represents a tradition and a refined art. Hence, it has become a new reason to travel, gathering a public eager to discover the most charming wineries and their never-ending vineyards and landscapes.

In fact, all this is reflected in the numerous initiatives that have arisen in the UK. Firstly, let’s talk about the London Gastronomy Seminars, a new culinary movement that is currently organising culinary seminars which goal is to “put the technical back into the public sphere and to make it fun”, as they state in their website; this seminars deal with different topics going from the different textures of food across cultures to more specialised ones as microbial ecology, fermentation and flavour.

Also related to gastronomy, we find quite interesting the initiative of the Italian-Japanese Brazilian chef, Luiz Hara. He is the founder of the London Foodie, which among other activities includes the London Foodie Supper Club that organises private culinary sessions and the London Cooking Club that hosts singular soirées, gathering a small number of guests personally invited by the chef to meet around a very special menu designed just for the occasion.

As for other initiatives that are essentially focused in the Wine Culture, we would like to point out the Local Whine School’s and the Wine Unearthed’s activities. The former carries out fun and friendly experiences built around wine meant for everyone; they offer “Food & Wine Matching Experiences”, as they say in their website. The latter organises wine tasting courses and experience days, as well as corporate and private wine tasting events all over the UK.

Pintxos in San Sebastián

Pintxos in San Sebastián

We strongly identify ourselves with this kind of practices; Go Basquing believes in a different way of travelling, making unique and quality experiences, enjoying Goodlife moments, designing programs where the Gastronomy and Wine Culture play the leading role. In fact, the Basque Country allows visitors to dive into a marvellous seaside filled with green landscapes and savour our strong culinary tradition; a real paradise for foodies. We are looking for curious travellers eager to enjoy a new life experience. Come meet the Basque Country!

Bilbao’s urban regeneration, a view by Go Basquing

We often talk about Bilbao’s regeneration, about how an industrial city has become a cosmopolitan and friendly one and the impact it has made to the quality of life in Bilbao.

For one who has been living here for almost 20 years, it is amazing to see how the city has changed. I can still remember, when I passed through the Deusto Bridge, the “pleasant” smell given off by the river on hot days. Nowadays, I feel very happy seeing that it is possible to do water sports (paddle-surf, sailing, swimming … exactly, you read correctly and here is the proof) or that people fish on the banks of the river. Not to mention that the green and leisure spaces are increasing, so all of us we can enjoy the city at our own rhythm.

World Sup Cup Bilbao

World Sup Cup Bilbao

By the way, talking about bridges, have a look at the link below. It is a post about Bilbao’s bridges I read some days ago and that I really enjoyed (sorry, you will need Google Translator!): http://www.blogseitb.com/bilbao/2014/03/11/la-ria-y-sus-puentes-sabes-cuantos-y-cuales-son/

But I’m beating about the bush. I wanted to tell you how much I love the way we are using the old industrial buildings that remain along the river. A good example of it is something I like to do every last Sunday of the month: to enjoy the flea market on the old biscuit factory of Artiach in Zorrozaurre. They call it “open tu ganbara” and you can buy curious objects and second hand clothes as well as know the work of artisans, from here and beyond, that propose surprising products, made with care. But, if you prefer, you can as well drink something quietly in a corner that will remind you your living-room. It is the perfect place to take time to have a lovely conversation, to meet new people and to know new initiatives and projects full of enthusiasm.

And, last but not least, close to there, in the Pabellón 6 (hall 6), you will discover other initiatives in a patio that looks like Camden Town: good atmosphere, amazing music, jam session… How difficult it is to describe what you can feel! You know what? Go there the last Sunday of each month and enjoy it by yourself. Moreover, it is the perfect way to admire all the buildings along the road that takes you to the factory. There are real architectural gems that will surprise you!

Pabellón 6

Pabellón 6

PS: this post is dedicated to all the people that miss the Basque Country and anyone who doesn’t have the chance to discover it yet.

The Goodlife around the Basque Country

Mark Kurlansky included in his book The Basque history of the World …. “The Basques are one of the unique people-islands to be found on the face of the earth, completely different in every sense … “ … a kind of mistery …

And yes ¡ sometimes we also think in that way as we could be enjoying our oldest Basque traditions at the same time that admiring the modern transformations that have taken place today around the Basque Country. We live every moment under a feeling of belonging and proudship, sometimes even being funny used for jokes.

Traveling around the Basque Country means to enjoy The Goodlife, to live every moment as locals do connecting with the heart of the local life … savouring moments of unique Gastronomy close to a group of local friends … admiring amazing Natural parks hicking around and meeting local farmers … tasting moments of exclusive wines as the local “Txakoli” … discovering and enjoying moments of some ancient traditions still alive … meeting with warm people proud of sharing their culture … all of them Goodlife moments that we love to share with our friends and guests.

Traveling around the Basque Country means to Be Basque for a while.

Goodlife Basque Country

The Goodlife Basque Country

Enjoying winter: Secrets of the Basque Country

It is the middle of the winter. We are close to the sea but it’s not the Canary Islands so we will have to wait a bit for jumping into the water; Pyrenees are near, but not too much, so we can’t even go skiing…then…

There’s nothing to do…

Nothing to do? Just the opposite! There are plenty of plans to do in this period of the year and I would like to share some of them with you!

January 21st: “Tamborrada” in San Sebastian and in other many places where Basque people live! Such good vibrations!

February 3rd: Several towns pay tribute to the popular San Blas patron, saint of throat illness, wearing colored cotton necklaces and sweets. If you want to prevent from throat illnesses you will have to wear it around the neck for the subsequent 9 days and burnt it afterwards!

February 5th: Santa Águeda and Basque choirs. There are not many choirs that move oneself as much as these ones. What is the best for me? That you can bump into one anywhere!

January 15th – April 15th: Time of txotx! What’s that? Go to a typical cider bar, known here as sidrería and you’ll find it out! You’ll love it!

Carnival: Very soon, (this year from February 27th to March 04th) for all of you who want to discover Basque traditions and be part of it. Adults are admitted!

Obviously you can mix all these proposals with discovering towns and cities and sharing them with your family and friends!

Enjoy!

Txotx

Txotx… a clue

Santa Agueda choir

Santa Agueda choir

Go Basket, Go Basquing

Today we woke up with great news.
Bilbao will host the USA Basketball Dream Team in the World Cup to be held in Bilbao from August 30th to September 4th.
The National teams of New Zealand, Finland, Ukraine, Dominican Republic and Turkey will also be guests in Bilbao.
Great opportunity to enjoy the local Festival in Bilbao from the 17th of August and the best Basketball !
You will be welcome !! Best !!

Bilbao hosting World Cup Basket

Bizkaia Arena - Bilbao Convention Center

USA Dream Team playing Bilbao World Cup Basket 2014

Gastronomy in the Basque Country: pintxos, user’s guide…

Today I would like to share with you a Basque tradition that I love: eating pintxos.

When I arrived in Bilbao, as many of us that are not Spanish, the only thing I had heard before were tapas. Imagine my astonishment when they talked to me for the first time about eating pintxos. Until I went to a bar in Bilbao and I found out this gastronomical art pieces…I was amazed!

Here are some pictures to whet your appetite…

Gildas

a plate of gildas

pintxos

Pintxos with sea flavour

 

 

 

 

Pintxo tour

Remembering my first experience in the Basque Country made me think that maybe some of you wonder how to order a pintxo in a bar, so I’ll explain it to you! It’s easy peasy! The only thing you have to do is to extend your hand, pick a pintxo from the counter and eat it! You can also ask for a plate to the waiter or waitress for eating it easier or taking more than one at the same time…It is really difficult to resist! Eventually, for paying you only have to tell the waiter how many of them have you eaten. It’s easy, don’t you think so?

Personally, if I were you, I will only eat a pintxo in each bar you will be. You will be tempted to eat 3 or 4 in the same place, but it’s much more fun to discover a town or a village doing a “pintxo’s tour”. And if you wonder what are the most traditional, I can say that there is a wide variety of pintxos made of jam, pepper, mushroom, omelets, croquettes… However, nowadays there are pintxos for every taste: cold and warm pintxos, made in front of you, served with spoon, even sweet ones! Irresistible!

As a picture is worth a thousand words, if you want to see how far the imagination of some chefs can go, I invite you to the website of the pintxo championship of the Basque Country and Navarra.

By the way, don’t sit down. It is usual to take your pintxo and eating it next to the counter. I’m sure that you’ll end up talking with a native that would help you to find out amazing places to enjoy.

Savor it!

PS: as it never does any harm knowing some extra words, here you have a list of…

Some useful words for going out for pintxos

Gilda: It is an appetizer made of anchovy, olives and pepper! It was invented at Vallés bar in San Sebastian in honour to Rita Hayworth for being “salty, green and a bit spicy!”

Poteo: A tradition based on going from one bar to another while having little drinks such as zurito or txikito, usually served with a pintxo.

Rabas: Battered squid that are served during the weekend and holidays.

Txakoli: Dry white wine from the Basque country. There are three designation of origin (Getaria, Alava and Bizkaia).

Txikito: In Bilbao it is a little glass of wine. Usually it is a rough wine so leave it to the natives!

Zurito: It is a small glass of beer, around 10-20 cl.

GO BASQUING, one of the 10 Top Tips at España Magasinet

Last October 2013 we received in Bilbao a delegation of Swedish Travel Agencies, taking part of a FAM TRIP (to Promote our destination) organized by the Tourist Office of Spain in Stockholm and Bilbao Convention Bureau. They were days of hard work and enjoyment, and we had the pleasure of acting as hosts and the opportunity to show all the attractions of our land while connecting emotionally. Both the group of Swedish friends and ourselves enjoyed a great time.

As a result of that meeting and the bonds that were created, the Spain Magasinet magazine, published by the OTS Stockholm, has included in their latest number GO BASQUING as one of the Top 10 Recommendation, focusing on our knowledge of the destination and our special way of doing things. Obviously , we are thrilled and we are delighted . And although it is published in Swedish, here you have a link to the magazine http://www.spain.info/export/sites/spaininfo/reportajes-portales/suecia/comun/espana-nr-20-lag.pdf and, thanks to the help of my good friend Google Translator, this is briefly what they have written about us:  Suecos Octubre 2013

BETTER THE BASQUE
No one can help you in the basque country better than Iñigo, on the small travel agency goBasquing.
He is based in Bilbao and organizes and helps with all kind of travel in the region. Much focus on the food and nature, of course, but also customized trips for weddings, conferences, golfers and all others.
Your journey is guaranteed to be better if goBasquing helps you.
www.gobasquing.com

Thank you Swedish friends, and see you soon!

Big waves, good life moments

Big waves_general

Big waves, amazing spectacle

Early January 2014. It is winter and, however, we enjoyed enviable temperatures in the Basque Country. True, traveler friend, that’s not the Caribbean, but to be able to walk without a hat, gloves, scarf… is a privilege! And every year in winter we have a few days like those.

Big waves in Punta Galea: pure spectacle

And, what we have as well, and that impresses me a lot, are the giant waves. What’s an incredible spectacle! You only have to approach any point of the Basque coast to admire this fabulous phenomenon.

 

Enjoying the waves

Are you thinking that I exaggerate when I’m talking about big waves? Drop by the site of the Big Wave World Tour and admire the exploits of the best surfers in the world, that have gathered for this stage of the global circuit of big-wave surfing in Punta Galea, in Getxo, last December 22. It is the only European event of the circuit, so it has been a pleasure to enjoy it so close. Here there are some pictures to let you enjoy the show and… to encourage you attend the stage next year!

big waves_salvaje wall

Big Waves 2013 from the low wall of La Salvaje beach

Whether you are amateur surfer, professional or, like me, you just like to enjoy good life moments, there is one thing you cannot stop doing if you come here: climb onto a surfboard and try to slide on the crest of a wave (or in the seashore, it counts too!).

The feeling is indescribable. So, come and try! And then, why don’t you sit down on the top of the cliffs to enjoy the waves with friends, as the locals do?

 

Do you want more? You can initiate into stand-up paddle surfing, give you a boat ride, paragliding or … nothing, relax and enjoy the moment. If it’s summer, go to a beach bar for cool drinks and if you are very brave and you went into the water in winter as people from here do, try a homemade broth or a hot chocolate.

What do you think about the plan?

Big Wave World Tour 2013, Punta Galea Challenge

big waves_participants

Big Waves World Tour 2013 Participants in Punta Galea

big waves_between professionals

Between professional photographer

big waves_surfing

Surfing a big wave in the Big Waves World Tour 2013, Punta Galea, Getxo