Thursday, February 24, 2011

Zarautz and Getaria

The first time we heard of Zarautz was when Amaia, our Basque girl, mentioned that she goes camping there during summer vacation for a few days with her circle of friends. We looked it up on the map and in the book about her country. It is a touristy town on the Northern coast of Spain, in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa.
Every day that Alberto, our host, took us out sight-seeing, we ventured a little further out. Keep in mind that our perception of distance is very different from theirs where you can drive to the furthest border in less than two hours. So, June 9th, three days after our arrival, we headed West following the coast of the Mar Cantábrico, part of the Bay of Biscay, in medieval times known as el Mar de los Vascos--Basque Sea.

El ratón de Getaria=The Watch Mouse
Can you see the mouse-like shape of the peninsula to the right?

Zarautz is known for its beaches, the largest and longest in Gipuzkoa, 2.5 kilometers.
Conditions are ideal for water sports. Zarautz hosts the world championship in surfing as well as offering classes for beginners. Interestingly, weight lifting is big there too. An international event is held annually.
These are a few facts I have come across as I researched in an effort to sort through the photos we accumulated. The memories have become somewhat jumbled with time, or perhaps they always were. We were attempting to take in so much in so little time. 
I will need help with this post as I want to share the photos and offer a guided tour such as we experienced it, but I am unable to label many of the photos with certainty. The following is what I seem to remember. Correct me if you know better.

I believe we walked from Zarautz on the promenade to Getaria, explored the town, walked past the church (seen in photo center above), stopped for lunch and later met up with Alberto's brother. (More about that in another post.)

We had a bite to eat at a pintxos bar (where you pay the same price for any of the varieties of sandwiches on the counter).

There we met some Americans sailing the length of Northern Spain.

They were partaking of the wine specialty of the region with their pintxos, the txakoli.

We came to a plaza with a statue of Getaria's most famous navigator--Juan Sebastián Elcano. He was Magellan's pilot and the first to circumnavigate the earth.

There was another monument further on.

Can you see what some pranksters did? 

Getaria is known for its fishing industry.

Mending nets is a full time occupation.

For centuries the Basques of this area were leaders in the whaling industry which took them all the way up to Iceland and even New England. Hence their emblem or shield.

In my online research, I came across a couple events, last month and yesterday, at the University of California Santa Barbara where they have one of the few Centers for Basque Studies in the nation. Currently there is an exhibit of Basque Whaling in the Seventeenth Century.

So much to see and learn! Did I mention that in Zarautz there are two museums? The Photomuseum offers a history of photography; and the Art and History museum which includes an ancient archaelogical site!

If I am ever privileged to return, perhaps I will be better prepared to appreciate much more of the beautiful País Vasco.

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