How to drink and socialize properly...
The Basques know how to do it! I was wondering how I was going to be able to keep up when I heard that the locals here go from place to place, a drink and eats here, a drink and eats there, and so on and so on.
But here's how I was able to cope!
1. Pinchos are small potions, so you don't stuff yourself straight off.
2. You order a tinto (sounds like teen-toe in English) or a small cerveza. So you are only consuming a little alcohol at each place.
[Tinto is a wonderful glass of red wine the Basques are so famous for.]
3. The people here drink a lot of water too. Keeps you from getting dehydrated.
4. Also, coffee, (cafe con leche for me) is as much apart of cafe life as wine and beer, so one does not have to drink all night.
How smart is all that? VERY !
San Miguel Church
The 14th century Gothic church of San Miguel stands on the north side of the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca, with a statue of the Virgen Blanca (White Virgin), patroness of the town, on the facade. The church, entered through a richly sculptured doorway, has a retablo by Juan de Velazquez and Gregorio Fernandez on the high altar. In a niche on the outside of the apse, in the Plaza del Machete, is an axe (machete), on which the royal governor of the town was required to swear that he would act in the interests of the town, on the understanding that he would be beheaded with the axe if he did not.
Capital of the Basque Country
I was lucky enough to live in Vitoria for just over two months, as I got a job digging on a medieval site nearby. I had a great time, visited lots of lovely places, and above all made some wonderful friends. I long to go back!
We spent 9 weeks digging at a site called Zaballa, close to Nanclares de la Oca about 10km to the south of Vitoria. On one part of the site we excavated a number of very large pits, the walls of a substantial building, and a small cemetery; on the other part, we found terracing on the side of the hill with more walls, and a ditch, some pits, postholes and further walls in the valley bottom.
We enjoyed ourselves at the weekends by travelling around the area as much as we could, so we had visits to Pamplona, Santander, San Sebastian, and Madrid and Toledo on the long weekend created by the national holiday of the 25th July. We were also taken on trips to Laguardia / La Rioja, and Castro Urdiales / San Juan de Gaztelugatxe by some of our colleagues.
Sadly we had to leave Vitoria when the site was finished, but we consoled ourselves by travelling back to the UK overland rather than flying. We stopped off at a number of places, starting with Zaragoza...
Friday Night at the Cider Cellar
The night before their big day, Idoia and Manuel take the wedding party and out of town guests to a cider cellar for food, fun, music, and of course, cider!
It was a good chance to meet and get to know their family and friends.
The cider is kept in four large kegs. You turn the spigot and catch your cider. Start with the glass held low, and travel up the stream of cider.
Name of place: Sidreria Sagardotegi
Address: Calle de las Trianas
We met so many people. I can't remember all their names!
But I remember the names of these two! May I introduce to you Amalia y Jorgé!
We all enjoyed opening walnuts with our index finger and a well placed punch. Here Ricardo shows us how to do it. That's Idoia, the blushing bride-to-be, beside him.
We were lucky that many of Idoia and Manuel's friends and family knew a little (or a lot) of English. I know a little Spanish, and so we were able to carry on productive conversations. The funniest ones though, were with people who knew very little or no English!