From Catalonia, we have crossed the Pyrenees Mountains, and settled for a month on the Basque Coast of Spain. Here, we have rented a spacious and well-appointed apartment in the small fishing town of Orio, where the Oria River empties into the Cantabrian Sea.
After shorter stays in Barcelona, Girona and the Costa Brava, and a week-long drive through the mountains, it feels good to stop, unpack, and take it easy for a while. As we have quickly determined; however, the Basque Coast of Spain is so travelable, culturally interesting, and strikingly handsome that we won’t have too much time to rest on our laurels.
On the first day in our new home, we did some much-needed laundry, filled the fridge with groceries, and did some cooking in our modern and equipped kitchen. After that, we have been out exploring our new world.
The Basque Country straddles the border of Spain and France, and includes provinces in both countries. Linking every small town and city is an extensive and easy-to-use public transportation system. Conveniently, we have a Euskotren railway station in Orio providing frequent and punctual trains to everywhere we want to go.
As ardent walkers, we are also happy to find that the Basque Country is connected by a vast network of maintained hiking trails, including the popular coastal route of the St. James Way. Just a one hour walk west of Orio, we stumbled upon the seaside city of Zarautz and the longest beach on the Basque Coast of Spain.
Further west, we hiked the Flysch Route, one of the most geologically impressive trails in the world. Here, the vertically tilted strata look like the pages of a great book with oversized sheets of stone dipping into the sea.
Besides its access to public transportation and hiking trails, and its slower pace of life, we also chose to stay in small-town Orio for its proximity to the fashionable city of San Sebastian, located just eight miles (13 km) to the east.
Known as the “Pearl of the Cantabrian Sea”, San Sebastian is home to one of Europe’s finest urban beaches, an important international film festival, and more Michelin restaurant stars per capita than any other city in the world.
Our wardrobe and budget won’t get us in the door of any Michelin star establishments, but we have already begun sampling the celebrated local food and wine, accepted as some of Spain’s finest. After all, we have to stave off our hunger and quench our thirsts, after our long hikes and other adventures.
So far, our visits to the local taverns and surrounding countryside have introduced us to open and talkative people, proud to tell us about their gastronomy, unique language, and ancient culture. In the days to come, we won’t be resting on our laurels, as there is so much to eat, drink, and explore, during our month on the Basque Coast of Spain.