The typical Basque architecture was everywhere - white houses with exposed stone edgings, red or green frames and shutters topped with reddish brown slates on the roof. The other familiar feature were the trees, the knobbly and misshapen Plane trees which fascinated me so much when I first arrived in Getxo. In the summer, these sycamores look pretty normal but in the winter they are 'pollarded' (heavily pruned) in order to keep them at a reasonable height. (as a side note I met an American artist on the bus who read a passage to us about the trees and this can be found along with more information on this blog: http://www.meredithnemirov.blogspot.com.es/2012/11/pollarding-sycamores.html)
With my two new friends, Rachel from New York City and Elena from Munich, we headed straight for a cute cafe-cum-chocolate shop where I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a large slice of a fruity and nutty Brioche which was delicious. With our energy renewed we set off to the port and decided to walk along the promenade and along the beach front. The Port was part of a dramatic event during World War Two when locals helped the Polish Army and refugees escape on to two large ships which had docked in the harbour. A large stone memorial commemorates this event. The river feeds into the port area and in the distance you can see hills and mountains so it reminded me a lot of a smaller and older version of Getxo.
We followed the water round before climbing some stares and then collectively gasped. We hadn't known quite what to expect when we went up and were now greeted with the sight of a lovely beach and blue skies which contrasted with the grey cloudy skies over the port area. We walked the length of the beach and up to a green park on the far West corner of the beach, which had a nice look out point. The Atlantic ocean was truly battering the cliffs next to us but it was really nice to get some sea air.
In the town, we noticed a lot of little shops and cafes were closed which was a little frustrating as we'd hoped to kill some time in the shops. Later we asked someone who said this was normal for a Saturday in this town. The main shopping streets boasted independent delicatessens, chocolatier's, touristy souvineer shops, flower stalls, kitch gift shops, tiny art galleries and various cafes. Some of them were open on the main stretch and I was able to do a bit of Christmas shopping. The independent shops, combined with the Basque architecture and the delightful Christmas decorations in the street and I was won over by this charming albeit sleepy little town. I'd like to come back and do a proper coastal hike as we could see another part of the town to the East and a different beach in the distance with a pretty looking headland.
To be continued...