Thursday, 1 December 2016

Semana Grande

In the middle of August, a big event took place here In the Basque Country, exactly saying in Bilbao, the city where I live. Every year, there is a tradition to celebrate so called “Semana Grande”,which means big week. All of the people are celebrating their Basque culture at the streets of the city. This year, I had the opportunity to be a part of this. It was my first, but I hope not the last Semana Grande in my life. If You want to read, how the whole event looks like, don’t stop reading.

Basque communities organise here parades and typical tents with local music and local drinks. Celebration starts every day early in the morning and then after few hours gets bigger and more crowded. During the night streets are full of people dancing and spending time with friends. Apart from this, every day has its own fireworks show. Every night, exactly at 22:45 people gather together at the bridges to admire the colourful sky, lighted by the explosions of fireworks. The party lasts all night long and people enjoy the time and live the moment to the full. As for my opinion, Semana Grande is a specific and unforgettable thing. If ever in Your life You had a chance to take part in this party, I would recommend You not to hesitate. Basque Big Week is a great time, but people and culture here is even greater.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Mercado de la Ribiera

Are you the food lover like me? If yes, the Mercado de la Ribera in Bilbao is a marketplace that you must visit. Even from the outside it looks very interesting. It looks like a boat in the shallows along the river Nervión, which flows through the city. 

The location of the market is really picturesque: riverside, in front of the beautiful Church of San Anton, near to the historic center. It is also a great introduction to the world of local gastronomy. From here you can start to explore all the delicious pintxo-bars. A visit to the market covers the whole spectrum of catering offer of the Basque Country. Mercado de la Ribera is a place where the locals like to come to buy fresh products as well as enjoy a drink or dine.
This beautiful bazaar is a place that no doubt has a soul. Even hit the Guinness Book of Records as the largest covered market in Europe (with an area of ​​10,000 square meters)! Large windows in the great art deco style allow plenty of natural light into the building, and floral patterns enrich decor. 

In the back of the building you can find even a overlook from which you can admire the river. Market Hall has three levels, each of which presents a wide range of fresh products. On the ground floor you will find the fish market, meat products on the first floor, and vegetables and fruits at the last floor. A wide variety of fish and seafood is particularly noteworthy. Perhaps you will find here species of shellfish and fish, you've never tried! In the part of fruits and vegetables, you can see the Basque green peppers and other interesting local varieties.
Mercado de la Ribera is not only a great showcase of fresh local products, but also a place where you can meet with friends for a drink, breakfast or lunch. You can even choose products from the stands and ask for their preparation according to your taste or just order a glass of fresh juice or cocktail with fruit from the market place.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Food - Pintxo tour

Student exchange, as well as holidays is the season in which the diet must be put aside. Food, food and once more food. Going to any bar in Bilbao you want to try everything, because it is completely different than our traditional pierogi, and bigos. This city is the home of Basque cuisine and seafood forms the heart of Basque cooking, considered the most inventive cuisine in Spain. Is famous for a lot of dishes, such as delicious tapas-like appetizers called pintxos. You have to remember that here are no tapas. The food culture in the north of Spain is not about tapas. It is about pintxos. The difference between them is really simple. A tapa is a small serve of particular dish, such as meatballs, tortilla de patatas, patatas bravas which can also be prepared in bigger sizes, and shared with family or friends. A pintxo is a small snack made of combination of ingredients for just one person. It would be impossible for a traditional pintxo to be prepared as a bigger serving, as is possible with tapas. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2016


Right after romantic and elegant San Sebastian, let’s visit energetic and vibrant Bilbao! The place I live in. Despite being an old city, it’s like a fairy tale mixed with a modern centre, in which art and everyday life complement each other. Throughout the Basque Country, and in particular in Bilbao, you will be amazed by the hospitality and serenity of the citizens. Moreover, everybody seems to enjoy the charms of the city together – both the young and the old, people of different origins and preferences. You can meet them all around, laughing, eating and enjoying their lives in such an open and varied place like Bilbao.
Being there, don’t forget to visit the stunning Guggenheim Museum with the famous spider sculpture outside. The museum designed by a leading architect Frank Gehry was opened in 1997 and immediately has become the biggest tourist attraction of the city famous all over the world. The shape of the building is very original. From the outside looks like a futuristic block. Around the museum there are several artistic designs that catch your eye with the fresh and innovative form such as Mamá, Puppy, Fire Fountain and Tall Tree & The Eye. 

Inside the museum of modern art in Bilbao you will find exhibitions, which also surprise with its newness and thought provoking. I've been there once, because once a month in the museum is organized an event - Art after dark. It is a party with electronic music which starts around 21 and lasts until 1 am. During the party you can listen to music, dance, drink and at the same time visit the museum. 

The biggest attraction of the old town of Bilbao and I think my favourite one is a walk in the area known as Siete Calles (Seven Streets). It allows you to feel the atmosphere of the times when it was ordinary, although undoubtedly charming town in northern Spain. You will find there a lot of bars, independent shops and several historic churches, among which the special attention deserves the Gothic Cathedral de Santiago.

Walking among the narrow streets of the old town we will arrive at the Plaza Nueva, the main square of the old town lined with pintxos bars. There’s a lively Sunday-morning flea market here, which is full of second-hand book and record stalls. Elsewhere in the market, children and adults alike swap and barter football cards and old stamps from countries you’ve never heard of. Unfortunately the market is much more subdued in winter.

Despite the fact that I fell in love with Andalusia, Bilbao is really beautiful city and I’m really glad that I can live here. There is a lot of interesting places, about whom I could talk and talk, so if you will come, be prepared to spend here couple of hours at least! 

Thursday, 3 November 2016

San Sebastian

The next stop of our Basque tour is San Sebastian. To be honest, its inhabitants have absolutely everything: sea, mountains, great fish, delicious meat, vegetables, fruits, parks and entertainment for both children and adults! It’s actually a fruit and vegetable market that I would recommend to start your journey around the city with – it’s like a culinary Eldorado! After that it’s best to take a walk to enjoy the city views. San Sebastian is known from its beautiful Art Nouveau architecture; however the omnipresent palm trees, proximity to the beach and a few people with a surfboard add to it a somewhat southern character…

International showcase of San Sebastian, except one of the most important movie festival in the world are great beaches. The best known is La Concha, the shell, located in the city centre. It is surrounded by beautiful sea boardwalk, which reminds of the aristocratic character of the resort in the past. La Concha is the place from which you can see the greater part of the city surrounded by hills and the bay Bahía de La Concha with the Island of St. Clare. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


Let’s start our trip in place where I am studying - Vitoria Gasteiz, which is a beautiful city, especially in terms of its architecture, best described as a medley of the old and the new. You can sense the eclecticism even in the Gothic cathedral, which for centuries has been decaying and then renovated over and over again...
Most of the interesting places in Vitoria-Gasteiz are located in the city centre. You will find there the old town with its romantic streets and squares, historic churches, palaces, lots of greenery and countless bars of regional gastronomy. Vitoria is the ideal city for those who like long walks without the rush.
The best place to start a walk through the old town is the main square of Vitoria-Gasteiz , the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca. This is the place where habitants of the city mass during major holidays and events. In the centre of the square there is a large monument dedicated to the Battle of Vitoria. It is surrounded by houses with facades decorated with white balconies. The square is dominated by the Gothic church of San Miguel. 


Right next to the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca there is the second most important square in Vitoria, which looks like the most typical markets in Spain. That's Plaza de España, also known as Plaza Nueva.

The most important historic building in the city of Vitoria is the Gothic cathedral of the Virgin Mary. The cathedral is inscribed on the UNESCO list as one of the relics on the pilgrimage route to the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. 

The Cathedral is definitely the pearl of the city, but I also recommend walking around to see its charming parks and very characteristic houses. Really interesting is that Vitoria-Gasteiz is the provincial capital of Basque Country with the highest density of green areas per inhabitant. For example, they have planted over 130,000 trees belonging to 150 different species. The city is also surrounded by a green belt which can be toured on foot or by bike. All this has contributed to Vitoria-Gasteiz being appointed European Green Capital 2012.

Interesting fact is that the inhabitants of Vitoria-Gasteiz call this city Siberia- Gasteiz due to the weather. During the winter there is really cold and oddly, considering that we are still in Spain often snows. 

This picture I took about two weeks ago. So as you can see the weather in Spain also can surprise! 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

A week in Basque country

Stone houses scattered among fields, visible through the mist, lush green indicating frequent rainfall, mountainous landscape… Is this our idea of Spain?

Sunshine, beaches, a woman in a beautiful flamenco costume or a man dressed as a bullfighter - images of typical Spain, right? If you’re talking about Andalusia, perhaps, but the true is that Spain is big and diverse country and a lot of times we forgot about it. Thanks to the student exchange I had an opportunity to visit the south and the north of Spain and see how different is Iberian Peninsula.  

Basque Country - Euskadi - Euskal Herria, called El Pais Vasco in Spanish, is an area that has always belonged to it. If you aren’t familiar with Spanish history and politics, Basque Country is one part of Spain where there are groups of people who would like to see it become its own separate country. It is a culturally distinct land, different from the proper Spain, with which often remained in conflict. Proudly perched on the northern Atlantic coast, near the border of France, the fabled region has its own culinary traditions, a distinctive geographic and cultural landscape, and its own language, Euskara, which is one of the oldest languages spoken in Europe, with hardly anything known about its origin. Like any other frontier and a place of mixed cultures, it is a very interesting region, full of surprises, contrasts and diversity. It’s a place that demands exploration beyond the delightful and cosmopolitan main cities of Bilbao, Vitoria and San Sebastián. You travel through the Basque Country always curious, and frequently rewarded.

Wondering what to do in such a tiny country, somewhere in the North of Spain? If you are yet not convinced whether the Basque country should be your travel destination, let me be your guide and take you for a quick virtual tour, after which I am sure you will not doubt where to spend the 5next holiday break.