Shopping in the valley
We arrive at the hotel mid-afternoon on Friday. Once we have settled in, we make out our position from the terrace of our room, from where we can see the town of Oitz, its pelota court and its large church. At the hotel, they remind us that we can buy ewe’s cheese from the Carlos’ dairy. On Sunday after breakfast, we will go and buy some and ask them to pack it “hollow”, due to the smell.
Since we have time before dinner, we visit the five districts of Donamaria (Gaztelu, Artze, Igurin, Azkarraga and Uxarrea) and discover that at the Carmelite convent they sell us “real” quince. It is a pleasure to stop for a brief chat with the sisters there, who are charming.
It is now time for dinner and upon arriving at the restaurant, Lorea offers us a glass of txakoli from Getaria with a pinch of chistorra from Bera de Bidasoa (when we go past there tomorrow we will buy some to take away at any rate). Fantastic. For dinner we have a crunchy cod roll and leek, followed by turbot fillets with butter and Espelette pepper and a hot chocolate cake. We have the Sienta Bien house tea and chat with Lorea about the route that awaits us the next day.
The following morning after breakfast, with the taste of sponge cake and cinnamon in our mouths, we embark on our shopping expedition. In Doneztebe, we go to the hardware store and buy hand-made fronton balls, a popular present. For “special” friends there are candles with twisted wicks, which are very hard to find. These candles are used for the so-called argizaiolak. On the way to Bera de Bidasoa, we go past Sumbilla and stop on the Roman bridge there. From there, we take our most beautiful picture of the morning, between the morning fog and the free-flowing river. We continue along the N121-A and enter Etxalar. The centre of the town is a gem: a church, a cemetery with Basque steles and a pelota court.
We arrive at Bera and climb the small mountain up to the forest of Sara. Sara is a moving place: we have a coffee at the hotel under the bananas and feel overcome by the aroma of Basque tart: we must have a small piece and take some for the road. There are some good delicatessens where we can buy some foie-gras.
We continue on towards San Juan de Luz-Donibane Garazi and there, on Rue Gambetta, we are won over by the effective sales techniques of Iparralde: we go into the soap shop, smelling and feeling the soaps and letting ourselves get carried away by that sensual world. It is perhaps the perfect town in which to buy some Basque table linen. It is of very good quality, and the giver of this linen as a gift worthy of thanks.
We eat something light: we have an early spectacular dinner at the hotel tonight.
Chickpea soup with foie, puff pastry with txangurro and crayfish, and for dessert a mango sorbet and chocolate and bitter orange sweet. We will have a chilled white wine from Chivite, followed by our Sienta Bien in the garden. Today, we feel like a cigarette by the river. After listening to “the river lullaby”, we go to our room.
On Sunday after breakfast, we go to the Santxotena Museum, but on the way we make a compulsory stop at Elizondo. Chocolate in Malkorra. A decent-sized portion of chocolate with hazelnuts to take away