The Spanish Basque Country isn’t the most touristic area of Spain. They call it ‘Costa Verde’, green coast, so it can occur that you spent a week in the rain. For surfers this place is paradise (and no I do not surf but like to watch, does that count?). My original plan was to move from place to place by tent, but camping sites are quite rare in this area and often full. So if you are planning on camping book on time! Knowing a couple of words in Spanish can be useful aswell since people in the small towns often barely speak English.
-Day 1: arrival in Mutriku-
I made this trip in the summer of 2015. After a long night in the car we arrived at Zarautz. It was so busy here! After we (me and my family) finally got the tourist information center, we soon realised Spain is nothing like France. Very few spots to drop your tent and also quite expensive. We kept on driving from place to place along the coastline hoping to find a campsite for our tent which wasn’t expensive. Except the sighs, disappointments, and phone calls with improvised Spanish words, the drive offered gorgeous views.
We ended up at Mutriku. I stayed at the camping Aitzeta, beautifully located on a hill, with a nice view over the ocean. The prices are quite good in comparison with other camping sites in the area. Perfect, after getting everything in order, I went all the way down to the cosy fish-town. Next to the local harbor you have a small spot where you can swim. Ideal to escape warmer temperatures.
-Day 2: San Sebastian (Donostia)-
We drove to the nearby town Deba, where you can take the train to San Sebastian. It is only an hour ride to get there and isn’t expensive at all. We decided not to go by car to avoid the busy traffic of the city and expensive parkings. San Sebastian is a city that surprised me, because to be honest, I had little expectations.
It has beautiful beaches for starters. Just the entire coastline of this area is so so beautiful. The city was small and cosy. I loved the many narrow streets, the squares, and the lovely southern atmosphere. What I loved even more was that in these tiny streets you could suddenly spot some hidden pearls, such as Iglesia de Santa Maria. Although it was hot we challenged ourselves (bit exaggerated) by climbing all the way to Castillo de la Mota. The reward of our little daily sports were some gorgeous views on the city and bays. Inside the castle you can find more information about San Sebastian’s history and how it grew over the years.
-Day 3: Enjoying the ocean-
This day we literally did nothing but swim and enjoy the environment. We also decided to move further to Bilbao, which I’ve been dying to see! We had one camp site in mind and figured there would be plenty of places to stay in the city itself.
-Day 4: Bilbao here we come-
Oh my. The camp site turned out to be quite disappointing, and so did the weather. It was cold and rainy. All the hostels we checked were full. We spent hours and hours trying to find a place to stay. We finally ended up at Albergue Bilbao, where we had to wait another hour before we could check-in. The hostel was really good. We had a kitchen and basically an entire floor to ourselves. It’s easy to get to the old town with the bus from here.
-Day 5: Bilbao-
Yesterday seemed far away. Today we could finally explore. And well, I found Bilbao rather disappointing, probably because I was expecting a lot of it. First up was a visit to the Guggenheim museum. The building was beautiful, but I can’t appreciate the art exposed in it. I wouldn’t recommend a visit, unless modern art is really your cup of tea. For me personally it is just a bit of BS and they just give an explanation to it to make it art. So sorry but no no no. In the afternoon we made our way towards the old town. This part of the city is very pretty. I liked this so much better. Especially at night the atmosphere is great and super cosy. We ate some Pinxtos, which is typical for this area. I had three with fish, one with egg, and one with meat. Absolutely delicious!
-Day 6: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and Gernika Lumo-
I have no idea how to pronounce it, not even going to try, but San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is an island in the sea. You can hike towards it, because its connected with the mainland (with a bridge). Good hiking shoes are necessary! We started the mini-hike by descending towards the sea, on our way views of this tiny island. Once bellow we continued by climbing the many stairs towards the little church on top. If you ring the bell three times you make sure nothing bad will happen to you, or so the story goes. This ain’t a gigantic thing but I don’t know I really loved it. There are many people though. It somehow reminds me of Mamma Mia 😛
Afer lunch we went to Gernika Lumo. A symbolic place for the Basque Country. Their government is located here. During the regime of Franco, the town got bombed. You can visit the parliament, and see their symbol ‘an oak tree’ which is many many years old (forgot how old exactly).
-Day 7: Bermeo-
The last day we went to Bermeo where you have an actual beach ( somehow difficult to find here). In the afternoon we prepared to leave. Normally we intended to go all the way to Santiago de Compostela, but the weather predictions were really bad. Instead we decided to follow the sun. So Provence (France) it was! I will write about this second week in France soon.