“You know when you’ve left Basque Country because the sun comes out.”
One of my BlaBlaCar drivers giving me a geography lesson
When I was looking at Master’s programs last year, I had narrowed down my options to two choices: the one I ended up attending in Murcia, and another program in San Sebastian. I ultimately chose Murcia because it’s much cheaper (San Sebastian is the most expensive city in Spain, yes, more expensive than Barcelona or Madrid) and because the weather was supposed to be better, although it ended up being a very rainy year for southern Spain. But still considerably sunnier than Basque Country.
But after spring break last April, I wish I had moved to San Sebastian instead, because Basque Country is so. bloody. beautiful. It does look anything like southern Spain. It looks more like Ireland or Britain. I’m going to find myself a Basque husband, learn Euskadi, and never leave because I absolutely love it, even with the crazy weather. (I even have a lead on the husband, because even though everyone told me that Basque men are notoriously shy and bad at flirting, me and my friend Ashley had several encounters with drunk Basque men trying to recite us poetry and buy us wine.) Even after this very late writing, wherein I’ve already moved to China, I’m still dreaming of going back. Why? Exhibits A through D:
We started in Bilbao, home of delicious pintxos and the famous Guggenheim museum (although we were a bit disappointed by the collection of the Guggenheim, but the building itself is dope). Bilbao has those great Barcelonian/Parisian art deco, modernisme vibes.
The village of Bakio and the Hermitage of San Juan de Gastgatxe (please don’t ask me to pronounce it) are about an hour and a half by bus from Bilbao. Yes, they shot something on Game of Thrones here but I don’t know what because I don’t watch Game of Thrones.
San Sebastian (Donostia)
The aforementioned city that I should have moved to. It’s so pretty! Bilbao and San Sebastian were important port and mercantile cities back in the day, thus why they look more fancy and are also still super expensive, compared to the rest of Spain. Or, I should say, compared to that country Spain that some people in Basque Country would rather not be a part of.
This small town is about an hour from San Sebastian by bus, but is probably most famous for the Flysch rock formations along the cliffs and beach.
So just remember: you’re not in Spain, you’re in Basque Country. If anyone asks.