25 February 2018
So you have done it, you have made your way all the way to the small pearl of the Basque country but have no idea what to do? Everyone loves to surf, but what to do when the waves do not agree with your plans or when you just feel like doing something else? Don’t worry, I have you covered with some ideas on what I like to do when change of pace is needed.
On my many years in Zarautz there are a few things I truly miss when coming back to Belgium. Of course the sun and the waves are amongst those things but one of the biggest factors is the amazing food culture in the Basque Country. Our friends from 'Pukas' coined the phrase ‘Surfing the Basque Country’, but I feel sometimes it should be ‘Eating the Basque country’.
So what makes it so unbelievable good? Well, I’ll try to summarise it even though there are multiple books that try to explain the same thing.
The freshness of ingredients: almost all food is prepared from local products, from local farms, butchers and so on. You can be sure that by eating in the local restaurants of Zarautz, you are supporting the local businesses and eating only top quality ingredients.
Speaking of the ingredients, the plates in Zarautz consist mainly of fish, meat and local vegetables. These have usually been bought the same day unless you are interested in tasting jamón, local ham that has been kept drying for months, even years in the best cases, which probably the best known dish from the Spanish and Basque cuisine. The main appeal for me personally in the Basque cuisine is the variety of dishes you can choose from, while all of them have been made with passion and skill. You will not find bad food here! There are a few suggestions I can make for good food in Zarautz such as: Telesforo, Asador Izeta and Kirkilla Jatetxea or if you feel like a burger, Mele Mele is the place for you with their custom made burgers, but I also suggest just going to town and finding a nice place by yourself. Just let the aromas drag you in.
Maybe you are not hungry and don’t want to go eat a full meal in a restaurant. Not a problem. You can also go to nearly any bar or café in Zarautz and have a glass of local house wine or a ‘caña’, a glass of beer of 20dl and enjoy a few pintxos, the Basque equivalent of tapas in Spain. All you need to do is go to the counter ask for a drink and look at all the varieties the bar offers of pintxos and just choose whatever you want. In most cases the bartender will give you a plate for you to stack everything you want on it, and then in the end you show it to the bartender and he will bill you for it. No need for reservations or large meals. Just something small to snack on while enjoying a cool refreshment in the sun.
In the evenings there is also the option to go out and have a little fun. In the summer the nightlife of Zarautz gets a big boost with the arrival of surf tourists, campers and the surf camps and parties can be found close to the beach, with probably the most crowded bars being 'el Gaba', one of my personal favorites with the amazing crew who works there and Julen the owner being one of the friendliest bartenders in town, ‘la Kupela’, my go to place for full on parties and friendly service, ‘el Marmol’ or in ‘la Txanela’. There are also other bars around the area but from my own experience, the best nights of my life i’ve had in those places. With the low prices of beers and ‘txupitos’ (shots) you can offer a few rounds to your friends even, without your bank account pointing minus the next day!
So, you went out too hard last night because unplanned nights are the best and the hangover crept in while you were sleeping. We have all been there and you think ‘ah this is going to be a lost day’. Why not just enjoy a calm day on the beach? The beautiful beach of Zarautz is truly a thing of pride for the locals, even so much they call it 'La reina de las playas', the queen of beaches and they make sure it is cleaned daily for everyone to enjoy the best beach in Spain. Laying in the sun and getting your tan on is a nice way to wait out for you to feel better and why not take a dip in the warm water to wash away all the bad smells of last night? Every hour the lifeguards mark with green flags the safest area to swim without having to worry about currents unless you swim too far, and under the constant supervision of the lifeguard, everyone is safe to enjoy the refreshing splash of waves.
Maybe you are the kind of person who likes to tackle holidays with an active approach. Zarautz offers a multitude of trails to hike or even travel through on a mountain bike. At Zarautz Surf Village we have prepared the option to rent out mountain bikes in case you are interested in exploring the wild forests and trails of Zarautz, or you can come with your own bike and conquer the toughest routes the area has to offer. At Gure Zarautz you can find a multitude of routes and trails to follow so just take your pick and start your journey.
If cities and villages interest you more, Zarautz has a large selection of them as well. Following the road west you will arrive to Zumaia and Getaria, two fisher towns, with old, rustic buildings and walks on the seaside. Feeling hungry? Getaria especially is known for the best fish restaurants in whole Spain, all you have to do is take your pick and enjoy of a multitude of varieties of fish caught the same day and cooked/fried/grilled to perfection. Zumaia on the other hand is well known for its recent appearance in the series 'Game Of Thrones', thanks to the amazing rock formations called 'Flysch'. Follow the footsteps of Daenerys Targaryen in Dragonstone and go see the real life set with your own eyes. If you are more interested in going to the east, you will find next to Zarautz, the village of Orio, another small fishing village with good food and friendly habitants. This summer, we'll take you even further for a visit to the capital of the Basque Country, the one and only San Sebastian or - in Basque- Donostia.
Personally one of my favourite cities in the world, San Sebastian has everything. Shopping? Check. Good food? Of the seven 3-star Michelin-star restaurants in Spain, you will find three in San Sebastian alone! With 17 stars in total our dearest Donostia is one of the cities in the world to hold the highest number of Michelin stars per square metre! In their slipstream, you'll definitely find tens of worldclass yet affordable gastronomic highlights! Surf? Like Zarautz delivered professional surfers Aritz Aranburu, Axi Muniain and Natxo Gonzalez, the Zurriola surf beach of San Sebastian is well known for bringing up famous surfers such as Norman Landa, Ethan and Julen Egiguren, Pablo Azpiroz and many more up-and-coming talents.
You can get to San Sebastian in less than 30 minutes by train which passes Zarautz every 30 minutes and tickets costing a measly €2.30. There truly is no excuse not to visit this beauty of a city.
You have had a long day of exploring the Basque Country and just want to sit back and enjoy a few drinks with friends with a view of the sun setting over the sea. Our Zarautz Surf Village is situated in a perfect spot to grab a guitar, a few drinks and good company and just enjoy the most beautiful moment of the day. Maybe you just want to relax and enjoy the moment before tucking yourself in bed to prepare yourself for a new day of surfing, having a romantic snack with your partner or potential love interest or maybe you prefer enjoying a few drinks with your friends in a calm setting to reload your dancing shoes and get ready for the evening of fun ahead of you. Whatever your reason is, you shouldn’t miss the prettiest sight Zarautz has to offer.
I can’t wait to start my summer already in my favourite place on the planet. Come and join me so I can share these moments with you! So what are you waiting for? I am ready for the summer, are you?
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