Pintxos Hopping in Bilbao

Pintxos in the Old Quarter, the Casco Viejo Plaza Nueva On Sundays you can see three generations of a family making their way through the neighborhood bars drinking Rioja in sips and feasting on pintxos.  In the “Siete Calles” section, those seven parallel, narrow, pedestrian streets running south of the cathedral.  Note that Bilbaínos believe…

An Excursion Into The Basque Highlands

A short drive from San Sebastián, south on the A-1, will take you into the Goierri, the Basque Highlands, a region surrounded by the Aralar Mountains.  Continue on the road to the attractive, and very Basque, tiny village of Zerain, a postcard perfect setting, which lies midway between Donostia and Vitoria.  On the way you’ll…

Where To Dine On The Côte Basque Part 1

Saint-Jean-de-Luz If you come in to Saint-Jean to shop and would like lunch during the high season, I highly recommend taking refuge from the hordes, far away from Rue Gambetta, Place Saint Louis and the touristy “restaurant row” of rue de la République, with two notable exceptions, the first, Kaiku, on rue de la République…

The Pays Basque Countryside

Exploring the lovely Bucolic Countryside from the Atlantic to Béarn Full-day excursions covering the Labourd, Basse-Navarre and Soule provinces of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques are possible starting either from San Sebastián-Donostia or Hondarribia on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, or from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz or Bayonne on the France side.  The day-long excursions will take you through…

Lodging in the Pays Basque

You’ll find accommodations to fit all budgets in the French Basque Country, from the historic 5-star Hôtel du Palais, luxury boutique hotel Beaumanoir, or the Belle Époque Le Régina in Biarritz, to more moderately priced 3-star accommodations like Hôtel Edouard VII  in Biarritz, 4-star Hôtel Ithurria in Ainhoa, the 3-star country inn, Hotel Arcé, in…

Stars of the Côte Basque Part 3

Bayonne The Spiritual Capital of the Pays Basque For genuine, un-touristy Basque flavor, venture a little further up the coast from the elegant, bustling resort of Biarritz to the quintessentially Basque city of Bayonne, or Baïona in Basque, once the most important commercial port on the coast and the spiritual capital of the Pays Basque. …

Stars of the Côte Basque Part 2

Biarritz A quick 15-minute drive up the autoroute from Saint-Jean-de-Luz is the elegant, stately, and formerly very staid, international resort, the crown jewel of the Côte Basque, Biarritz, a Four-Flower Village (Ville Fleurie) with a climate similar to Carmel, California.  The more time we spend in Biarritz, the more we fall under its spell.  While…

Stars of the Côte Basque Part 1

Saint-Jean-de-Luz Known as Donibane Lohizune in Basque, is a charming, lively, sophisticated, but extremely busy in summer, tuna, sardine and anchovy fishing port with 5 sandy beaches, turned tourist draw.  Take a walk atop the seawall on the Promenade Jacques Thibault.  Survey the sardine boats moored in the small, protected harbor, or stroll along the…

Excursions on the Costa Brava

In the Alt & Baix Empordà Medieval Villages Take a driving tour of the highly picturesque, beautifully preserved, charming, atmospheric medieval villages of Pals and its castle tower and rice fields (but is perhaps a bit too-well restored and overly manicured), and the nearby tiny Sant Feliu de Boada, with its lovely 12th-century Romanesque church. …

The Ribera del Duero

Ribera’s earliest underground cellars, with their distinctive stone chimneys, called zarceras, were built in the 13th century in towns across the region and still serve to protect the wines from the extreme climate changes.  The limestone caves, dug by hand, provide the perfect conditions for aging these fine wines.  One of the best examples of…

Of Chestnuts, Wine and Celts

Celtic Galicia, Spain’s Ireland You will need a few weeks to properly explore Spain’s lush, misty, and verdant northwest corner:  a land very different from southern Spain.  This lush, misty, and verdant northwest corner of Iberia, facing the fierce Atlantic, is a place of spectacular seaside cliffs and mighty rivers gushing through deep gorges, of…

Fallas

The festival in Valencia, Spain’s 3rd largest city, is similar in many ways to the Fiesta de San Fermín in Pamplona; open and welcoming, people of all ages and stature coming together, long days and late nights in a city that never sleeps, thousands of participants immaculately dressed in traditional regional costumes, food stands serving…