Click HERE for day 4: Perlora to Bilbao
The main reason for this road trip had been to spend some time exploring the Basque Country, as I have long been intrigued by this completely different culture tucked away on the mountains of north-eastern Spain and western France. The Basques are an ancient race of people, with a language completely unlike any other found in Europe. Their strong sense of cultural identity combined, perhaps, with their geographical isolation in the mountains means that since the Neolithic Era (Stone Age) this culture and language has evolved along it´s own path, with minimal influence from the various Empires who ruled Europe throughout history. This is not to say that this is a Stone Age culture! Far from it, it´s just a culture that somehow managed to avoid the majority of the European invasions throughout the ages… the Roman and Arab centuries of rule, along with so many other waves of external cultures and civilisations that came and went over thousands of years. I find it incredibly fascinating and AMAZING that this small group of people managed to hang on to their identity and language and not get absorbed and lost like so may other European “tribes” must have done, through the ages.
Our first stop after leaving Bilbao was the town of Gernika (Guernica)… made famous by Picasso´s painting depicting the bombing of the town by the German Airforce during the Spanish Civil War. I had studied this painting quite extensively at Art school so it was also a place I´ve been curious to visit for a while. We happened to be there on market day, which ironically, was the day of the week chosen for the bombing, because it meant the town would be full of people from the surrounding areas. I´m a bit of a closet history nerd, so I´m not going to bore you with the details but Guernica has long been considered the “heart” of Basque culture and it´s definitely worth a visit if you´re exploring the area.
From Guernica it was just a short drive to the coast to Mundaka, where we spent the night in a bungalow. This town on the Biscay Bay is well known for having great surf… the combination of swell coming in from the bay together with a sandbar created by the river mouth at the entrance to town makes for a great wave, but there wasn´t much happening when we were there. Besides rain, of course… rain was definitely happening.
Click HERE for Day 6: Mundaka to Zarautz