Basque Country: El Centro del Mundo (or so they tell me)

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Here I am in Basque Country! Pais Vasco is in Northern Spain, and also crosses into France.  It is considered part of “Green Spain,” which is pretty obvious looking at the photos.  To be honest, I came home from this trip with mixed feelings.  On one hand, it was beautiful, the air was clean and crisp, the food was INCREDIBLE, and the people were very friendly.  At the same time, I left feeling more like a foreigner than ever.  Maybe it was because I was juxtaposing it with my trip the week before to Scotland?  Leaving Scotland, I’d felt like I had visited home and that all Scots were extended family.  I definitely did not have that feeling in Basque Country.  For the sake of not saying anything bad about my experience, I’ll just leave it at that 🙂

Day 1 in Lekeitio:

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Lekeitio is a gorgeous little town of 8,000 people that grows to a whopping 800,000 residents in Summertime.  And really, is it any wonder why?  The town touches a beautiful, clean beach, and reaches up to rolling hills and forests.  I’d want to take my family here as well!

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The port in Lekeitio; all around the docks are little cafes and bars where locals gather to watch Athleti games. Aupa Athleti!

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The coastline is rocky and famous for its enormous waves; statues close to the water have broken because of the force, and surfers from around the world come to ride.

Day 2 in Bilbao:

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All buildings are adorned with red and white striped flags, including administrative buildings, to support Athleti Club, Bilbao’s soccer team.  With their final against Barcelona coming up in a few weeks, the decorations are more obvious than ever.

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Absolutely the best lamb I’ve ever eaten.  And, in Basque tradition, they claim them to be “los mejores del mundo entero”  Typical.

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One of the oldest bars in Bilbao; in the past different alcohol brands would tile their advertisements, hence the Malaga (Andalucia) reference.

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Huge dog made of flowers!  It’s called “El Puppy“, but when locals pronounce it with heavy accents, it sounds like “El Poopy,” as in, “Mama! Vamos al Poopy!”  Of course I laughed 🙂

*Fun fact: the building behind the dog was designed by the same architects that did the EMP in Seattle, sorry I forgot to include a full photo!

Day 3 in San Sebastian:

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San Sebastian is famous for their pinchos (pinches of food), which essentially are tapas but better.  The variety is incredible, and the pace in the bars is FAST.  It functions completely on an honor system: you take whatever you want to eat, drop your toothpicks and napkins on the ground, and before leaving flag down a waiter, who adds up what you owe based on what you tell him you ate.  I can’t imagine this working in the US.

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Basque Country (and San Sebastian in particular) is famous for its seafood.  Point in case: gulas are baby eels.  Clearly these are imitation, or else I wouldn’t be able to afford them!

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I know, I know, why would I want to spend an afternoon in such an ugly city?  I ask myself the same thing.

(This is the beach in San Sebastian, and despite it not being quite Summer yet, the sand was packed with people)

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Main church in the center of San Sebastian.  I didn’t enter it, but I did enjoy eating an icecream on a bench in front of it!

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2 thoughts on “Basque Country: El Centro del Mundo (or so they tell me)

  1. Kevin Thruelsen says:

    I really like the architecture of the building with the flags on it!

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