I feel incredibly blessed. (From what I hear, that's a good thing. 🙂)
So what am I so happy about? I recently returned from a trip to Euskal Herria, which is the name of the Basque Country.
A little information...
The Basque Country is located in the western Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, along the Atlantic Coast.
Though you won't see the "Basque Country" listed on any map, it's home to the ancient, indigenous culture of the Basque people. The Basque language, Euskera, is the oldest living language spoken in Europe today.
Back to the trip...
Part of my heritage is Basque, so when a group of my relatives wanted to visit the country, my partner and I decided to join them. I was really looking forward to learning more about a culture that I had been taught to be so proud of. There is so much to this beautiful land and people (more than I can possibly describe in this post), so I hope you'll enjoy this brief visit...
(And, if you'd like to learn more about the Basques in general, please see the links I've included at the bottom.)
We stayed in San Sebastián, which is on the Spanish side of the Basque Country. We slept in a small, hotel-like accommodation known as a "Pensión" in the city's beautiful "Parte Vieja" or "Old Town."
Here's one of the views from the Pensión:
This gorgeous scene was just a few steps away from our accommodation:
We also took day trips to the French side of the Basque Country:
The buildings of the French Basque side typically have a white/red color palette:
My partner and I LOVE good food, and we let it be known that we were going to eat our way through the country. :)
Fortunately, delicious food is a huge part of the Basque culture...
The picture above shows the first meal we ate called "Txuleta" or "Txuleton" steak. These large rib steaks come from aged cows, which can be anywhere between the ages of 8 and 18 years old. The idea is that the flavor intensifies as the animal ages.
In one word: DELICIOUS!
Food is serious business in the Basque Country. In fact, San Sebastián has 16 Michelin stars alone!
I didn't make reservations in time to try one of those restaurants out. Luckily, you don't need to eat in a 5-star restaurant to enjoy amazing food.
We enjoyed many sorts of foods from "Pintxos" bars. Pintxos, are the Basque version of "tapas" or small, shareable plates. These foods can be anything from skewered guindilla peppers with olives to "Pulpo a la Plancha" (grilled octopus).
(I'd love to say I took the pintxos pictures, but I just ate before I even thought to snap some photos. Believe me, the food is that good and I just dug in. Ha ha!)
While I didn't get as many pictures of everything as I would have liked, I was happy to get the beautiful shots that I did.
And, something touched me very deeply when I was there... The Basque people, by default, eat seasonally and their food is always locally sourced. Personally, I've seen incredible changes in my health and mind as a result of more mindful eating so I can appreciate what's happening there.
It's not always easy to eat that way. (Especially, if you live in an area like I do where eating fresh is really difficult!)
That's why I get such a pleasure out of showing people how to grow peppers, which also teaches you to grow other foods too. When you become more self sufficient, you gain the freedom to feed your body in this way, if that's what you choose. 🙂
Thank you for taking this journey with me. If you'd like to learn more about the Basque culture, here are some links:
- Discover the Basque Country
- Basque Country Travel (Lonely Planet)
- Hella Basque
- Basque Cuisine - San Sebastián Tourism
- North American Basque Organizations (NABO)
Have you traveled to this magical land? I'd love to read your comments below!