The Basque Coast
We decided to take the advice of the young woman in the information office and explore a bit of the Basque Coast, known locally as Bizkaia. The day dawned showery and a little cooler than yesterday so we took along coats and hats “in case”.
At our first stop, we were glad we did.
We wanted to see the Vizcaya Bridge which crosses the river at Getxo, close to the estuary. Familiar with the similar transporter bridge in Newport, we thought it’d be interesting to see how this one differs.
Well, not much really. But the bridge here is in far more regular use and in the short time we stood there watching, it made two journeys across the river, laden with vehicles and foot passengers alike.
We considered making the return trip ourselves but it was blowing a gale and the gondola was wobbling a fair bit! Instead, we watched as the oarsmen (?and women?) did their training runs beneath it. It looked like hard work to me.
We scurried back to the car, pleased of the shelter after being blown about and set off around the corner, towards Galea, where a view was promised. By the time we arrived, it was spotting with rain and the view was of industrial port buildings so I watched as the other three leapt out, ran a short way to say “Brrrr!” and wave before returning to the car! Whilst they were gone, the car rocked about in the wind rather, having lost most of the ballast
The next place on our list was Sopelana, reputedly a surfer’s paradise but today, there was no sign of any such activity. The views of the coastline were magnificent though and we wandered about taking photographs and making observations for quite some time.
The cliffs reminded us of the irish West Coast where we’d been last Summer.
We loved the strata of the rock, so clearly seen on that outcrop
Very sharp, not the kind of place any of us wanted get too close.
A bit further on in Plentzia, there was a wide stretch of sandy beach and two of us thought it’d be fun to go down there and get the sand on the soles. We two olds stayed on the promenade and watched…
A family who’d been in the car parked next to ours was now ready to go surfing and I hoped that they’d not waste too much time in getting going.
Whilst they followed their instructor and did warming up exercises on the beach, the other instructor went straight into the water and waded out to catch a wave. I was watching him through my zoom lens the whole time, so when he decided to go for it, i was ready.
Quite the poser, eh? Or am I being unfair?!
We were all feeling a bit peckish after the sea air and followed the promenade around, feeling sure that somewhere soon there might be some tasty snack on offer.
Hehe – a choice of small friendly cafe-bars to sit for a while with a glass and a couple of pinxtos. Perfect! What better answer to a slight peckish feeling than to walk inside and see a range of tasty snacks beautifully laid out on the bar, just ready for the choosing?
Suitable refreshed, it was time to set the satnav again and head for one of the main attractions along this coast. The young woman in the tourist office had highlighted San Juan de Gaztelugatxe as a must see
When we saw it for ourselves we were inclined to agree with her, if not tempted to walk the 231 steps to the hermitage.
Some hardy souls were happy to make the climb though.
From here, the road was broken and had fallen into the sea in places, so we did a hasty u turn and found an alternative route into Bermeo and Mundaka, taking a quick picture through the windscreen of this rather lovely advert as we went.
Our final goal for the day was Gernika, the city which inspired Picasso to paint the work of the same name.
The two young government professionals were keen to see the Basque Assembly which opens daily at 4pm. It being just 3.30pm when we arrived, we had time for a little light refreshment, then.
Down in the square, I voiced an observation I’d had during the last 24 hours or so – that there appeared to be a kind of Basque font, including those rather elaborate As. Of course, once I’d drawn everyone’s attention to it, we spotted it everywhere.
Anyway, meandering back to the Assembly building through the town square we came across this bronze of a local musician: Jose Maria Iparragirre, the “Basque Bard”.
He was standing outside a rather fine building with some beautiful wall decorations high up above the street.
We are never lost for something to see, to notice and of course, to admire and take a photograph of!
It was time to go inside the Assembly Building however. Free entry, too, just like all other parliament buildings we’ve visited.
Our first inclination was to look up, to see the huge stained glass ceiling which was “born” the same year as Edward.
It’s huge – well, of course it’s the size of the room….so hard to photograph effectively. Still, you can get an idea.
In the room of the stained glass window, there were displayed a few treasures, including this goblet containing the hollow silver ballot sheets used for voting at meetings in the 17th century.
There was also J M Iparragirre’s guitar and some of his music, featuring more of that Basque lettering we’d just identified.
And everywhere we looked, there was the Tree of Gernika, the symbol of the Basque people.
The “real” tree is now a stump outside in the garden
and a cutting grows outside the general assembly – though I think it’s one in a long line of cuttings from the original tree.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without visiting the assembly room itself, adding it to the increasingly long list of parliaments we’ve seen around the world and admiring the traditional, solid format of the historical assembly still in use today.
And that was that. As we left we marvelled once again at the Basque language – you’d recognise that as a police car, wouldn’t you?
Sadly, we had a deadline to meet and our destination was Bilbao airport. Government work waits for no-one and unfortunately Amy has responsibilities and needs to be in her office tomorrow morning. So, her short break was a little shorter than ours and we said our goodbyes and saw her onto her flight for Heathrow this evening.
So now, we are three, but oh, what fun we’ve had as four