Cider Country and the Magic of Chillida Leku
Friday The txotx ritual
This is an ideal time to learn more about the cider-making history of this area at the Petritegi cider house in Astigarraga. Discover the ritual that surrounds the drink, the legacy of the commercial tasting sessions and the food served to accompany it. There are plenty of places to stay in the area: rural B&Bs, apartments, pensions, hostels and delightful little hotels; all set in fabulous scenery, barely 10 minutes from the centre of Donostia/San Sebastian.
Saturday Secrets of cider and Idiazabal cheese.
Start the day off with a visit to Sagardoetxea, the Basque Cider Museum in Astigarraga, the perfect place to get a sense of the town’s history and customs, its local culture, closely intertwined with the natural surroundings, and its sagardoa —cider— a centuries-old tradition in the Donostialdea area. The museum area has a range of resources and technologies showing the history and preparation of this drink and its cultural importance in the Basque Country. You can also take a walk through the adjoining orchard, all rounded off with a delicious glass of cider. And what better accompaniment than some nice local cheese. At the Adarrazpi cheese dairy in Urnieta, you can experience the life of a real shepherd and taste two of the region’s top products: cider and Idiazabal, the Basque cheese par excellence. Discover the cheesemaking process and all its secrets in this farmhouse on the slopes of the majestic Mount Adarra. You can also see the shepherd milking, feeding and herding the flock, with the aid of his faithful dog, “Argi”. After the guided tour, enjoy a delicious tasting session of open cheese sandwiches, salad, roast suckling lamb, cider, and for dessert, junket and Adarrazpi cheese made on the premises. You can also purchase some typical local products in the small shop. Delicious!
Saturday And in the afternoon, jai-alai or a mountain walk
For those who prefer the great outdoors, there’s a great mountain trail up Adarramendi, where you can visit its menhirs and cromlechs. From the Adarrazpi dairy, the ascent is relatively easy (approximately 2 hours). The route is well signposted and as well as the dolmens and cromlechs (such as Eteneta and Muniskue), there are also some magnificent views along the way over San Sebastian, Jaizkibel, Ernio and the mountains of Navarre. Those who prefer to learn more about a very local tradition and experience all the exciting atmosphere of a pelota game, can spend a memorable afternoon at the “cathedral of remonte”, the Galarreta Jai-Alai ball court in Hernani. With a professional pelotari (pelota player), Endika Barrenetxea, as your guide, you will learn about the history of the Galarreta ball court and the remonte variety of pelota: the rules, the craft materials used to make balls and baskets and the world of betting. And Endika will give you a lesson with a basket and a ball on the court. To round off your day, we suggest dinner at the steak house (asador) in the ball court itself or in any of the taverns and restaurants in Hernani, where you can enjoy the very best of local, high quality, seasonal produce.
Sunday Learn more about contemporary Basque culture and the work of Eduardo Chillida and other Basque artists.
You can start your Sunday with a walk through Usurbil. Download the “Harria Hitz” app and follow the accessible cultural trail featuring a range of sites in the centre of the town. You will see the role Usurbil has played in the resurgence of contemporary Basque culture and the career of contemporary artists including Zumeta, Tapia, Mikel Laboa, Udarregi and Eduardo Chillida himself, one of the leading lights of the twentieth-century renaissance of Basque art. Later, head to Hernani to learn more about the world of Chillida and visit his dream project, Chillida Leku. The entire space of the open-air museum is a work of art in itself, reflecting Chillida’s vision of form, space and accumulated time. Here art and nature merge seamlessly together and the sculptures are an integral part of the scenery. The 11 hectares (27 acres) of gardens, with their beech, oak and magnolia trees, host more than forty monumental sculptures in steel and granite, all in perfect harmony with the Zabalaga farmhouse. It’s a great place for a pleasant stroll. And what better way of ending the day than a delicious meal and a relaxed chat over coffee. Within easy reach you’ll find cider houses and steak houses (asadores), offering simple but delicious cuisine as well as world-class restaurants, including one that boasts three Michelin stars. Enjoy!