From San Sebastian with love

In this video we can see some of the most special and unique places in the Basque Country. Some scenes have been shot in San Sebastian, also Bayonne in the French Basque Country, La Rioja and more.

 

Comet network introduction

The Comet network was created by the Belgian nurse Andree de Jong during the Second World War and it was created to evacuate allied soldiers from Nazi-occupied Europe to Spain and from there to England or the USA. This network grew to nearly 14,000 collaborators who saved a total of 2,373 British and about 2,700 US soldiers.

The Comet line descended from Belgium and the Netherlands to Paris. From Paris crossing the Pyrenees through the Basque Country until it reached San Sebastian or Bilbao. The last stage of the trip was Madrid-Gibraltar in the south of Spain.

Biriatou

Near the French Basque town of Biriatou, a few meters from the border with Spain there is a monument dedicated to 2 fallen soldiers trying to reach the border. The river Bidasoa is the historical border in this part of the Pyrenees and it is a very steep terrain with lush forests and perfect to hide from the Nazis.

During the night of 23-24 December 1943 on the edge of the Bidasoa cliffs a group of 7 people including 4 aviators and 3 members of the resistance were preparing to cross the river Bidasoa. The problem was that the river was very high due to the abundant rainfall. Count Antoine d’Ursel and Lieutenant James F Burch were swept away by the current and drowned. Lieutenant Burch was co-pilot of a Michigan Air Force B-17F that was shot down in Holland on October 10, 1943. From Belgium after crossing France thanks to the Comet network he arrived in the Basque Country. His intention was to reach England through Gibraltar.

The Germans recovered their bodies the next day and deposited them in front of the church in Biriatou as a warning to the villagers. The people of Biriatou covered the entrance to the church with flowers in recognition of the dead. The angry Nazis removed the bodies and made them disappear.

Count dÙrsel and Lieutenant Burch are the only ones who lost their lives escaping through the southern Comet Line. These two wakes are dedicated to their memory.

 

Xoldokogaina mountain is located in the border between France and Spain. This location can be considered like the heart of the Basque Country. It is 15 minutes from San Sebastian and 15 minutes from Biarritz. From the summit is possible to see both cities and the Pyrenees mountains. There is a fantastic view over Larrhune mountain wich is one of the icons at the French Basque. If you want to get to the top of this fantastic mountain there is an old train from the XIX centuries that goes to the top. The train station is located in litlle village called Sare wich is worth visiting.

The hike starts at the little village called Biriatou located in the french side of the Basque Country at the top of the hill and above the Bidasoa river.

Biriatou is a very charming village with a long basque tradition. It is a good example of the Labortan arquitecture. The Labortan style is one of the aesthetic characteristics that makes the French Basque country so picturesque and unique. You will also be able to find local cheese makers at the farms. They produce a type of seep chease called “Irati Ossau”. It is a world class chease and you have to taste it.

Close to the “fronton” and the unique church there is also a historical hotel and restaurant called “Pakea” where you can have a very good lunch. This restaurant is recomended by Michelin and it has a very good reputation.

I will post some videos of the hike so you can make an idea.

 

 

Fishing in the Leizaran river

This past season has been very successful. Our customers left very satisfied. We’ve had days of many catches. Brown and rainbow trout in a unique natural environment. We have fished in the rivers of the Basque mountains and in the Pyrenees. The fishing modalities have been fly-fishing and spinning.
Not far from San Sebastian we have the Leizaran River. It is a mighty river that flows through a very steep valley. The population of common trout is very abundant. On the other hand, in the lower part of the river there are controlled repopulations of rainbow trout and salmon. By law, trout fishing in the Basque Country is done without killing. This guarantees a stable trout population and therefore a good number of catches for the fishermen.
In addition, we always take our time to rest and eat something by the river. We always include food and also good wine that we drink directly from the goatskin boot.
The fishing laws are very restrictive so it is necessary to have all the licenses and permits in order. We at San Sebastian Trips also take care of all these formalities.
If you look for us in Instagram you will find some videos and nice pictures of our clients.
We are looking forward to our next adventure on the river!

The seabass day

It’s one of those fishing days that sticks in your mind. It was going to be a day of tuna fishing but a friend called us and told us that in a very specific area of the coast there was a huge school of fish. We decided to cancel the tuna fishing and go to the coast in search of those bass.
We prepared some black minows and the spinning equipment. The result was instantaneous. They wouldn’t stop biting. Not only the sea bass, but also other fish such as mackerel and chicharros. The activity lasted a couple of hours. When the sun came up in the middle of the day, they stopped snacking.
We decided to stop for lunch and go back to the tuna. We tried for hours but nothing, the tuna didn’t want to bite that day. Then almost at the last minute we decided to go back to the sea bass at full speed. We were very tired but it might be worth it.
So we did, as soon as we arrived we started to pull out sea bass again, but this time bigger than in the morning. It was incredible, it was like being in a dream. One of the sea bass broke the fishing rod that was resting at the height of the handle. We were lucky to catch it on the fly. It was an unforgettable fishing experience. Here are some pictures as proof of that day.

We are waiting for you at sea!

Aizepe is a typical gastronomic club in the Old Part of San Sebastian. It is located between the old port and Mount Urgull. The building was originally contructed around the XVIII century and was first used as a salt deposit for the Dutch merchants given its proximity to the port. During the napolenonic wars it was one of the few buildings to survive the raging fires that consumed the Old Part. These fires were set by the English-Portuguese troops who fought for months against the french invaders.

Today, it is a place for friends and family to get together to prepare the rich local products fruit of this land. The ritual is always the same, go to the local farmers market to buy fresh products, prepare them inside the gastronomic society with friends and finally sit down to enjoy the wonderful dishes prepared in a table that can seat as many or as few as desired.

One of our great chefs, although still in training, is Telmo Ezcurra. He is always willing to prepare something for the rest and makes sure that we have everything. In the Basque Country we believe that the first virtud of a good chef should be this, the desire to please the palate. There is no greater satisfaction for a chef that to see others enjoying that which he has prepared.

Another important chef in our small Aizepe family is Alain Alonso, blogger in Pintxo a Pintxo.   A great chef, also Basque and Donostiarra, a bit less conservative and more innovative in his dishes. He always manages to surprise us with something new hidden in traditional ingredients.

In addition to these noteworthy chefs that one can find in the kitchen at Aizepe, there is another group of people, of friends and family who also contribute an invaluable ingredient to the success of a dinner. It could be someone who brings the freshest ingredients, or who acts as somelier, setting the table, preparing coffee or even small bits of advice given in the kitchen. All together everything insures that things go perfectly.

This little article has made me realize how important it is to share life and its small joys with familie and friends. I can assure you that there are few places in the world like the gastronomic club to celebrate this sacred basque ritual of sharing a table with those we hold dear.