Basque Country

Basque Country

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Basque Country

Basque Country is a unique part of Spain: culinary vanguard, art center (incl., Guggenheim Museum), borderland with France and spectacular range of hikes in picturesque countryside!

Basque Country: Culinary mecca, Art center (incl., Guggenheim Museum), French and Spanish coastal and Pyrenees walks!
The Basques have often been described as a mysterious people: Where did they come from? What’s the source of their language? How did they survive as a people despite waves of invasion of Celts, Romans and Christian settlers?
Arguments of geographical isolation seem to hold little water leading some to conclude that there must be something special about Basque character which has allowed them to endure and thrive in their enchanting corner of south-west France and mid-northern Spain where the sea meets the great Pyrenees mountain range.

The Basque Country (Euskal Herria in the Basque Language, País Vasco in Spanish and Pays Basque in French) is made up of seven historical provinces (Bizkaia, Alava, Guipuzcoa, Navarra, Labourd, Basse Navarre and Soule) stretching on both sides of the border. In our days, Bizkaia, Alava, Guipuzcoa make up the Spanish autonomous community of Euskadi, while Navarra has its own autonomous region status and the rest are part of the French State.

Map of the Basque CountryThese hilly and coastal lands have been farmed, havens for shepherds and exploited for their mineral wealth for centuries and centuries by the Basque peoples who share a common language - Euskera. Euskera is a pre-Indoeuropean language and believed to have been in use since the pre-Roman era. Basque folklore, games (hand ball, pelota, jai alai), cuisine, dance, and a profound relationship to the land and homestead are deeply cherished in this fertile region and we’ll learn more about these ways of life and being as we walk the area’s paths and ways.

On our tour we will explore the roots of Basque history and the legacy of 19th C unbridled nationalism, born in the industrial age, on contemporary society (oftentimes in conflict with itself). We’ll sample their world famous cuisine, visit their coastal fishing villages from which innumerable voyagers launched off into the unknown in search of discovery and opportunity or to land an enormous whale, walk along their old smuggler’s trails as we cross the border connecting France and Spain on two ancient Basque passes all the while being exhilarated by their most beautiful natural resources - the densely forested Urkiola Nature Park, the coastal Flysch Trail (a geologist’s paradise) and the rolling txakolí vineyards set between the coast and mountains. We’ll not only stay in some of the Basque country’s most beautiful coastal and mountain villages, we’ll also enjoy the vibrant cities of Bilbao (visiting the Guggenheim Museum) and San Sebastian (a city perfectly interfaced with its coastal and hilly setting and justly famous for its cuisine).

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