The best way to enter Hondarribia is descending Mount Jaizkibel. Beyond the stimulating views, the path helps to understand the privileged environment of a town of about 18,000 inhabitants, located between the foothills of the mountain (or at the end of the back of a whale) and the welcoming breadth of the Bay of Biscay. The sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe refers us to the traditional Alarde (civic-religious parade to fulfill the vow made by the people to the Virgin during the siege of 1638), which is celebrated every September 8. From here, the Bidasoa river is a water scar that separates us from Irun and Hendaye, a neighbor with a truly irresistible beach. The innate richness of nature reveals green mountains, dotted with farmhouses, cider houses and orchards that delicately absorb the sirimiri, thus later brightening a wild landscape.
9.00 An intramural walk
On a sunny day, it is a good option to have breakfast on the terrace of the classic Batzoki (1). In view are part of the medieval wall that borders the old city and the restaurant Alameda (2), until today the most reputed in Hondarribia for its way of reinterpreting tradition. Before crossing the door of Santa Maria and access intramural, welcomes the sculpture of the Hatxero (sapper), symbol of the city.
It is impossible not to evoke the slow steps of Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen, prisoners sentenced in Papillon, shot here in 1973. It is a pleasure to see that the scenery has hardly changed at all. It is partly due to businesses such as Girl (3), which has offered its own puppets since 1980, by Idoia Siejo and Jonan Basterretxea (family of the sculptor Néstor Basterretxea, a fundamental figure in Basque artistic and protest modernity), and other enclaves such as the restaurant Sebastian (4), the Town Hall (5) and the Zuloaga palace (6)—Both from the 18th century— or the church of Our Lady of the Apple Tree (7), where on June 3, 1660, Maria Teresa of Austria and Luis XIV, the Sun King, were married by proxy, before staging the formal wedding six days later and at full speed in San Juan de Luz.
10.00 Old watchtower
The Plaza de Armas (8), the usual meeting point, is dominated by the Parador Carlos V, From the 10th century. Here is an imposing presence, whose stone and whose windows also speak of the time when María Cristina, a big fan of Hondarribia, insisted on keeping it at all costs. Half castle, half palace, its monumentality controls, from the top of the promontory, the bay of Txingudi and explains its ancient function as a fortress and watchtower. Continuing through San Nikolas you reach the Gipuzkoa Square (9), where brick squeaks with traditional wood and stone architecture.
12.00 Colored facades
Traditional houses shine in the Marina neighborhood (10), on whose facades green predominates (the color of the Hondarribia trawler). For sample, Zeria, a house from 1575 and current restaurant (restaurantezeria.com). This walk has risks, that is, places with pintxos too easy to deal with: Robin (San Pedro Street, 27), Good place O Big sun. In them it is learned that the natives of Hondarribia are called Vikings or that there is a monument of a bear and a strawberry tree in the Javier Ugarte square (11) as a courtesy to the many Madrid visitors. The brightly colored balconies sprinkled with flowers are good company for the eyes. Attention to two shops: the old one hardware store of María Rosario Berrotaran (12), as good quincalleirie full of all kinds of objects, including the fashionable bag-basket-carrycot on the surrounding beaches; Y drink (13), where to find suggestive illustrations by Maore Sagarzazu.
It is essential to know the essence of chacolí, cultural heritage of the Basque Country. Nothing like visiting the Txakoli Hiruzta (14), on the outskirts, which thanks to the oenologist Ana Martín has recovered the centuries-old tradition of production and elaboration of versatile, gastronomic and first-class chacolís.
14.30 Pure ancestral flavor
To eat it is advisable to book in Trinkete Borda (15), in neighboring Irun. There is no better wagyu meat in Spain than that which Iñaki Hernández preserves in his meadows, and you will hardly find a restaurant that handles the grill so well. Its products from the garden have a pure, ancestral flavor. A gastronomic festival in keeping with the landscape. Living in a cloud must be something like this. Behind the restaurant is the original ratchet in which a Spanish baseball championship was played in the sixties. Assuming this data after eating only allows the pelotaris to be imagined while the question of the next escape is resolved.
16.00 Two nearby getaways
There are two nearby excursions. You can go to Saint Jean de Luz and see what remains of the original La Pérgola casino designed by Mallet-Stevens, or visit the fishing villages of Pasaia, crossing by boat from Pasai Donibane to Pasai San Pedro and remembering Orson Welles reading alone in the historic restaurant House Chamber and visit the house where Victor Hugo lived (oarsoaldeaturismoa.eus/es) during his stay in 1843. To see what this place inspired him, you just have to open his book Trip to the Pyrenees and the Alps: “A curtain of high green mountains cutting their peaks against a resplendent sky and in that sky a life, a movement, a sun, a blue, an inexpressible air and joy, that was before my sight.”
20.00 Rest in the farmhouse
Back, the ideal, without a doubt, will be to spend the night in Basalore (16), a hotel-farmhouse (843 93 14 20) surrounded by nature. The expression “has it all” makes sense in this corner of the world and stops having it outside of it. The tasteful actor couple Elsa Pataky and Chris Hemsworth spent the summer of 2019 here delighted, and were visited by Matt Damon. Discretion, repose and fullness are assured. A transformative experience. On the terrace, when the humidity lurks and the sun is nothing more than an orange ending that fades beyond everything, it is time to open the chacolí that was bought in Hirutza and surrender to the essence of nature.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.