We spoke a few weeks ago about our amazing time in Gipuzkoa and how we witnessed some of the most breathtaking scenery and vistas! Well, our second day is Gipuzkoa was filled with the most delicious fresh fish that was truly out of this world. Well, maybe not out of this world – the fish was locally caught! 🙂
Our day started off with one of those sleeps you read about about in a disney film… you know, the kind where its such a deep and restful sleep that you feel like breaking into song upon waking up! Staying at the Hotel Torre Zumeltzegi in Onãti was a true treat. The hotel has the most magical rooms you can imagine. A good tip is to book one of the top floor rooms as these have windows that stretch across all the external walls – these rooms provide a perfect opportunity to watch the sunrise across the town and surround mountains.
Upon leaving Hotel Torre Zumeltzegi we headed to Pasaia, to take part in a Basque cuisine workshop entitled “Cantabrian Sea Fish”. Our workshop was held in picturesque Ziaboga restaurant that lines the harbour walls. Fresh fish is the cuisine of choice here and its great to see the tradition and methods in which the fish is carefully brought, prepared and of course devoured at this most amazing eatery!
Living in London, we rarely get to see the “behind the scenes” preperation of our food, and it was great to learn about the preparation involved to eat a swordfish. The lovely people at Ziaboga let us try a range of delicious, freshly caught fish and Calamari – we ate Hake and Monkfish. Monkfish has never really appealed to me as It looks like one of those fish you would see in a low budget hollywood horror film! But aside from its scary looking nature, it is delicious! Wow, I cannot describe how good it tasted, not quite as soft as say Hake, but it had a much more delicious meaty texture. A top tip if you are ordering Monk fish is to request the cheek. We had no idea there was meat in the cheek until we had our workshop. Its melt in your mouth delicious! If you are heading to Pasaia, you really must eat at Ziaboga, for truly authentic and delicious Basque cuisine.
After stuffing ourselves full of fresh fish, we headed by boat to the Albaola Foundation (Basque Maritime Heritage Foundation) in Pasaia. It was a short 8-10minutes boat ride across the Bay of Pasaia in the quaintest fishing boat you can ever imagine! The Albaola Foundation have recently been on the most magnificent journey to fully reconstruct The San Juan whaling ship from 1563. We spent a few hours undertaking a private tour of the history of trade, The San Juan itself and its current reconstruction. If only someone would help make us a boat like that! In fact, maybe we should consider a career change, helping to build the most amazing boats ever! Unfortunately, neither of us have the expertise to be able to come close to the skill of everyone involved in this epic task. One of the coolest things about this experience is that you can see the passion and determination that everyone involved in the project embodies! Its great to witness the construction and determination of all involved.
After a short break, we headed to the fortress of San Marko in Errenteria, roughly 10km from San Sebastian, the San Marko Fort is most certainly the best vantage point in Errenteria, Lezo, Oiartzun and Pasaia. The fort itself was occupied solely by the army until 1970, and today is integrated into the Nature Park of “Lau Haizeta” – providing a perfect backdrop to witness the sunset over Gipuzkoa. Its location alone gave us a privileged vantage point of Gipuzkoa’s coast and the famous bays of La Concha, Pasaia and Txingudi. Our top tip would be to head here around 5pm, eat a late lunch at the restaurant now inside the fort and watch the sunset from the galleys of the fort itself.
Our second day in Gipuzkoa was truly epic. We had never considered visiting Gipuzkoa before and we were truly blessed with the most delicious foods and historical sites you can imagine. It was really easy for us to get to Gipuzkoa too, with direct flights from most major airports to Bilbao with British Airways, Iberia and EasyJet. A perfect break away from those cold winter nights that are starting to creep up on us!