On a hike to the summit of Jaizkibel (see my blog Jaizkibel - Hike from a Ruined Spanish Parador), a mountain/ridge overlooking the Bay of Biscay in Spain, we almost continued the extra 6 kilometers to Pasaia, but with the rain intensifying, we decided to go another time. Unfortunately, years passed without our ever visiting what was reputed to be one of the most picturesque coastal villages in Spain.
On Wednesday, our Basque neighbors, Koro and Christian, who have taken us to some excellent restaurants in nearby Spain, suggested lunch in Pasaia.
Pasaia served as the biggest whaling port in Europe up until the late 18th century. In the 16th century, long before the French and British laid claim, the Basques formed partnerships with the Inuit people of Newfoundland and ultimately became the major suppliers of whale oil for all of Europe. Many Basques settled in Newfoundland, which in the 16th century was actually known as 'the Land of the Basques'. Today, Pasaia and Red Bank are sister cities.
Approaching the village, we drove past the main port which housed massive cargo ships. Christian told us about his experiences watching them enter the narrow entrance to the port with just a few meters on each side and when we ultimately saw the entrance, it was hard to believe these huge vessels could make it through.
We continued up to a parking area and then entered the village on foot. The streets were cobblestone and the passages included extremely narrow tunnels. We had to step into doorways several times to allow vehicles to pass.
The path continues to the Bay of Biscay, then turns into a trail leading to the top of Jaizkibel and beyond to the east.
During our superb meal, we were entertained by the fish dancing just below our window. I'm not sure what they were, but they were 12-16" long and kept swimming with their heads out of the water, mouths open. I ran into a school of hundreds of these some years ago surfing, but no one has yet identified these bizarre fish.
After lunch we took a leisurely walk back to the car. Christian decided to take the scenic route on a small road that leads from Pasaia to the top of Jaizkibel then down to Hondarribia. Unfortunately, with the xirimiri, visibility dropped to near zero as we climbed the 1800' mountain so we missed most of the spectacular views up the French coastline.
As for Pasaia, we will go back. There's so much to discover and so many spectacular places to hike (and to eat)!
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