The following extract is from A Basque Diary – Living in Hondarribia, which is available, in print and as an ebook, from Amazon.
Lots of Brits go to Spain for the better weather. No one goes to the Basque Country for the weather. It is a land of pointy green hills, dotted with caseríos (traditional Basque smallholdings) and beautiful valleys pocked with ugly factories. The coast is ruggedly gorgeous, with forests and sheep pasture falling into sloping layers of schist rock. But, as in the UK, the lush beauty of the countryside comes from the fact that it rains a lot at any time of year, though especially in the winter.
The reason we went to the Basque Country was to learn Spanish. It is a bi-lingual region. Many people speak Basque as their first language, but others living there don’t speak much Basque at all. Sometimes this is because of the legacy of Franco (who banned the teaching and speaking of Basque). Other times it is because of people moving into the area from other parts of Spain. The upshot is that nearly everyone speaks Spanish. Unlike in the Spanish towns more popular with English tourists, very few people speak more than a few words of English. They are more likely to speak French because of being on the border with France. This made it the perfect place for us to practice our Spanish with native speakers.
You can read more about Basque culture, food and places by checking out
A Basque Diary – Living in Hondarribia.