The Basque Country is an autonomous community located in the north of Spain, but there is also a French side, which is known as the French Basque country or Northern Basque country.
As mentioned previously, we have been following the coast line, but we made a little detour when arriving the French Basque country, because my paternal grandfather told me to visit the town where his family came from (or part of his family at least) the town was called Ustaritz. The detour was not a big one, it was easy to get across our destination anyway. This is where we saw the difference between the rest of France and The Basque Country; its’ own specific type of architecture and society, colorful and relaxed. It meant something special for me, looking at where my family roots came from.
Although getting there with bikes was not easy, a lot of tall, steep mountains and some dirt rocky roads, which was definitely a challenge. I talked about it when going Live on Facebook a few weeks ago, if you haven’t seen it, you can check it out by clicking here. We were not able to take many pictures of these kinds of roads, because we were too busy concentrating on surviving.
And getting into the Spanish side was like a whole other world. The bars and restaurants were open at later hours, everyone was outside having fun and socializing, we did not see much of that back in France, where everything seemed to be closed all the time. What a relief it was to listen to a language at least I could understand. It came as a shock at first when getting inside Spain and realized I suddenly understood everything people said to me and didn’t have to speak in sign language anymore. They do use their weird Basque dialect which no other understands, but it was fun to have a change from the French.
Only minus is that unless you’re in a cool modern city, most places don’t have good bike roads and most of the road is on the highway together with angry car drivers that think they own the roads. At this point I was crying: “I don’t want to do this anymore!”, but we had to, we had to continue, so after my crying stress-relief we went on with our travels and met the most wonderful city of the whole Basque Country - Bilbao. A place for art, kind and helpful community, design, beautiful old and modern architecture, good food… They had it all.
And vegan food? no problem! Their traditional meals offer a lot of good vegetables and a lot of them can be done vegan. Organic foods and products were also quite easy to find at most supermarkets and specially in big cities like Bilbao. Even the coolest bar there was serving vegan food. Pintxos (pinchos) is the thing there, you get them at bars which is a super smart idea giving that drinking alcohol alone gets you drunk faster, with food this process goes slower. For us it was no need for an expensive vegan restaurant, we went bar to bar eating all the vegan pintxos they had!
Unfortunately, we've been having some problems with our pictures and computer. This is the reason why it took me so much time to post these last blog posts and why I won't be able to show you the awesome pictures Asbjørn took of this amazing city.
Next entry coming up, about the beautiful North of Spain!