Gastronomy in Basque Country, Pais Vasco, Spain
A short while back, I had the opportunity to hear Rick Steves speak in Seattle, and among the topic that he was discussing was the concept of visiting “second cities.” In other words, while most people visit Rome, Paris, Madrid, and Berlin, they don’t visit Naples, Marseille, Bilbao, and Cologne. It’s just human nature to want to go to the big city. After all, it’s the one that most people have heard about and most of your friends have probably gone to.
But what we’ve found over the past couple of years is that those “first cities” are becoming overcrowded with tour guides, buses, and inflated prices to cater to tourists that might travel once every year or every two years. The real vibe of a country, or a place, is found in the second cities.
With that in mind, in October of last year, we decided to head to the Basque Country in the north of Spain, a place that is known to some tourists but not to most. A perfect place for a truly Spanish vacation.
Our flights into Amsterdam from Seattle and into Bilbao from Amsterdam were quite mundane and not memorable. We flew coach (I know I know… but the flights were only $400 each) and so we don’t have any photos from the flights themselves.
We do, however, have an awesome KLM lounge photo ☺ I mean how cool is it that they brand their cookies like that? And check out the silverware…
We picked up our rental car and headed to our hotel, the wonderful* Holiday Inn Bilbao, dropped off our things, and set out to explore the city. Bilbao is an incredibly modern and metropolitan city, as the entire Basque Country is. Indivdual elevators replace stairs on steep hills. Modern designed spaces butt up against centuries old buildings. Their ATMS however… require some work.
Our purpose in life for this trip was… food. We know that the north of Spain has an amazing gastronomic history, and this trip did not disappoint. Safe to say we ate our way through the country. Here’s a big sampling of everything that we did
For all the traveling that we do, and for all the places that we’ve been, the food in Euskadi in the north of Spain, specifically the Basque Country, has been hands down, the best, that we’ve ever had. If you’re into food. And you’re into ciders and local wines, and you’re into cheese, and you’re just into eating amazing food, then you MUST go to Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, and San Sebastian.