binNotes | a food, wine & travel blog
by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML
Basque Country Redux
Basque Country Redux
Recently, I posted an update about TASTE Vacations tours to Basque Country and Rioja, Spain. A reader asked if I wouldn’t mind sharing a little bit more about the visit I referenced in the post. Duly noted. Here goes. As a side note, I made the trip before my affiliation with TASTE Vacations, so did the legwork and research myself.
Sun, Sand, Surfing…and Stars
In case you haven’t yet visited, San Sebastian ranks among the top gastronomic destination spots worldwide. Only twelve (12) miles from France, San Sebastian boasts 15 Michelin stars, including the internationally renown Arzak. For me, San Sebastian and Lyon, FR top my list of most favored food and wine travel destinations ever, both so rich in history, culture, and flavors.
Lyon and San Sebastian both boast rivers running through them, the Rhone and Urumea, respectively. However, unlike Lyon, San Sebastian abounds with beaches, from the white sands of Playa de la Concha to the Belle Epoque boardwalk of Playa de Ondaretta to surfer haven Playa de Zurriola.
Heart of Basque Country
While technically part of Spain, San Sebastian, also known as Donostia, beats with a proud Basque heart. Good luck trying to decipher their gorgeously complex language, one of the oldest on earth. The written words look like a cross between Greek, Russian and Turkish, and the sound, well…enigmatic.
Linguistic puzzles aside, when attempts at Basque, Spanish and English fail, don’t despair! Basque people exude warmth, charm and humor, so sign language proves a hilarious and spirited last resort.
The efforts will leave you ravenous for the local tapas, called pintxos – exotic, memorable, and inexpensive small bites. The variety of pinxtos astounds, including fruits from the sea, jamon, cheeses, potatoes, olives and peppers, each served up with local wines, among them a fresh, exuberant local white known as txakoli.
Was my trip to San Sebastian worth the effort? Absolutely! Would I do it again? Yes! But, in all honesty, next time I’ll cut to the chase, and just hire Jenny. Hope this helps.
Basque country tour info lives here.
My previous post on Jenny Siddall’s Basque Country and Rioja tours lives here.
Care to share? Feel free to leave your comments below.
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