Along the western coasts of Spain and France, Euskal Herria – the Basque Country – awaits rediscovery. This diverse countryside with its mountains, estuaries, forests and winding coastlines, is a pleasure that can indulged by all five senses.
Yet it is the people of this land that are the most intriguing. Europe’s oldest nation, but never a country. An ancient language with no relation to any other on earth. An enduring culture whose impact on the world stretches far beyond the stunning countryside nestled at the base of the Cantabrian Sea.
To say that the Basque people have a strong sense of identity and belonging is an understatement. With this steadfast foundation, the Basques pushed boundaries during the age of exploration, were pioneers in trade and industry, and are known the world over as culinary innovators. The endurance of the great exteas (houses), and the strength and adaptability of the culture is worthy ofcelebration.
Travel with an esteemed group of Basque hosts. Hike, bike, or simply wander and explore. Taste the wonders of the Basque Country on this eleven day journey by sea!
• Appreciate Basque fishing, whaling, and seafaring traditions
• Taste regional specialties: Espellete peppers, white beans of Tolosa, traditional Beasain blood sausage, Idiazabal cheese, angulas of Aguinaga
• Experience the joy of pintxos, the tapas-like snack at the heart of Basque cuisine
• Learn about traditional Basque sports such as pelota, jai alai, aizkolaritza (wood chopping), harri jasotzea (stone lifting and strongman feats), trainera races (whale boat races), and more
• Visit San Sebastian, a city with more Michelin stars per person than any other in the world
• Explore Basque language, mythology, music, dance and folklore with local guides
• Learn about the rich tradition of bertsolaritza: Basque competitive poetry
• Taste unique wines, including sparkling dry white Txakoli, and world-famous Rioja
• Hike or bike in the region’s mountain and valley landscapes, including protected biospheres
Day 1 Bilbao
Day 2 Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve
Día 3 Getaria
Día 4 San Sebastian
Día 5 Astigarraga
Día 6 Iparralde – French Basque Country
Día 7 Bordeaux
Día 8 Le Teich Ornithological Reserve
Día 9 Belle-Île, Brittany
Día 10 Brest, Brittany
DAY 1 | BILBAO
Arriving independently in Bilbao, we’ll meet our Adventure Canada group and staff for an afternoon guided walking tour of Bilbao’s Old Quarter which dates back to the 700s. Since 1979, the Old Quarter has been a pedestrian precinct, offering 240,000 square metres of shopping, architecture, and historical sites. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry is widely considered an architectural masterpiece.
In the afternoon, we will participate in an official welcome ceremony with music, wine, and pintxos, embark the Ocean Endeavour and begin our journey down the Nervion River, headed for the Bay of Biscay!
DAY 2 | URDAIBAI BIOSPHERE RESERVE
The Urdaibai Estuary is home to a vast salt marsh, making it an important stopping place for migratory birds. More than 245 bird species have been sighted in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, which is also home to hundreds of varieties of trees and plants, and numerous land animals. We’ll visit the marshland for birdwatching and sightseeing.In the evening there will be the possibility of visiting Guernica, a town famous for the tree of Guernica and for being the inspiration for the Pablo Picasso painting of the same name.
DAY 3 | GETARIA
The old fishing and whaling village of Getaria is considered one of the Basque Country’s most charming port towns. Maritime traditions run deep here in the hometown of Juan Sebastian de Elcano, the ship’s captain responsible for completing the first world circumnavigation after Magellan’s death midway through.
After visiting the historic port and archaeological sites, we will travel up to the vineyards overlooking the village where the Hondarribi Zuria grape is grown, for a demonstration and tasting of the local Txakoli wine. A mountain islet offers lovely hiking opportunities.
Getaria offers mouthwatering options for foodies and wine lovers alike. We’ll also have an opportunity to stop at the Balenciaga Museum and a local anchovy cannery.
DAY 4 | SAN SEBASTIAN
The historic city of San Sebastian is framed by sandy beaches and a backdrop of green-clad mountains. Here you’ll find wonderful architecture and fabulous food. A tour of the Parte Vieja (Old Quarter) leads to an opportunity for pintxos, the tapas-like snacks that are the heart and soul of Basque food culture. We’ll also visit the Albaola Sea Factory Museum and the replica of the San Juan, a Basque whaling ship discovered sunk in the harbour of Red Bay, Labrador.
DAY 5 | ASTIGARRAGA
Only a few kilometres up the Urumea River from San Sebastian, Astigarraga is famed for its cider. We’ll visit a family of cider makers who have five centuries of experience producing cider in the region. The Astarbe family have been growing apples and producing cider for over fifteen generations in Astigarraga. We will join them for a visit of the orchards and cider making facilities as well as a demonstration of rural sports. Of course we will join them also for a traditional cider house meal.
DAY 6 | IPARRALDE, FRENCH BASQUE COUNTRY
Just across the Bidasoa River from Spain, Iparralde (Northern Basque Country) offers a more intimate and rural experience than its urbane Spanish counterpart. We will visit the town of Espelette, famed throughout Europe for its peppers and its picturesque Basque architecture of whitewashed facades and red roofs. Sare, a tiny village at the base of the Pyrenees, offers an option to travel by rack railway to the summit of Larrun Mountain, a sacred place in Basque mythology standing square on the border of Spain and France. From there we cross the border back into Spain to Zugarramurdi, in the mountains of Navarre. Known as the site of the Basque Witch trials, we’ll visit the prehistoric caves where the witches’ sabbaths were alleged to have taken place.
This day provides excellent opportunities for hikers and cyclists. The proximity of our three stops means that traveling between them can be done on foot, by bicycle or by shuttle bus.
DAY 7 | BORDEAUX
The wine capital of the world, Bordeaux, France has so much to offer visitors: cuisine, wine, markets, architecture, museums and more. Passengers will have the opportunity for a guided tour of the Old City, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll be alongside overnight to allow passengers to savour food, drink, and nightlife in fabled Bordeaux!
DAY 8 | LE TEICH ORNITHOLOGICAL RESERVE
The Ornithological Reserve at Arcachon Bay contains dunes, marshes, reed beds, and meadows, providing habitat for as many as 260 bird species year-round. The reserve is also an important migratory stopover and wintering ground for a wide variety of species. Both long and short walk options are available, with blinds and raised viewing platforms that offer excellent bird-watching opportunities for all.
DAY 9 | BELLE-ÎLE, BRITTANY
Brittany’s largest island at 17 by 9 kilometres, Belle-Île is known for its plant life. The island’s flora includes eucalyptus, exotic gingko, mimosa, fig, and oleander.
There is excellent hiking and biking along coastal pathways and roads, many offering secluded beaches. Rock pyramids known from Claude Monet’s paintings form an intriguing geological attraction.
DAY 10 | BREST, BRITTANY
Heavily bombed during the Second World War and rebuilt in the fifties, Brest has been an important naval port for hundreds of years. The Maritime Museum here is in an 11th-century medieval castle remodelled by Vauban, who also oversaw the construction of the Citadelle at Belle-Île. Also of interest is the Motte-Tanguy Tower, dating to the 1300s, which now houses the Museum of Old Brest.
This morning we bid farewell to the Ocean Endeavour and transfer to the airport, or passengers can independently stay to enjoy Brest and travel onward.
Vessel: The Ocean Endeavour
Outfitted with twenty Zodiacs, advanced navigation equipment, multiple lounges, and a top-deck observation room, she is purpose-built for passenger experiences in remote environments. The Ocean Endeavour boasts a 1B ice class, enabling her to explore throughout the Arctic summer. The ship offers an excellent experience for passengers with two restaurants, 3 bars, a dance floor, swimming pool, solarium, sauna, spa, and various highly comfortable cabins of different sizes
Type of Vessel: Passenger Cruise Ship
Year Built: 1982
Length: 137,10 m (450 ft)
Breadth: 21,00 m (69 ft)
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