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The Basque Country

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 12 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 12 people
Destination(s): Spain  
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring   Cultural Journey  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2750 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2980 US Dollar (USD)

We combine great cycling with awesome food in a setting of unique beauty and historical interest. This is not the austere adventure you might find scaling Mount Everest or riding the Mongolian plains, it is a trip where you will want to savor the lunch as well as the scenery, or where you might reconsider your career plans in favor of buying an old Pyrenees farm house.

The area of the tour is a cross-border region alongside the Atlantic Coast of France and Spain. The unique local culture and cuisine is influenced by both sides of the border. Language, architecture, character, gastronomy and folklore mingle and produce a common particular way of life. The simple way of cooking fish, the use of piquillo peppers or the presence of foie-gras in Spain and even Spanish producers of this so much sought after product speak to combined cultures of the Basque region.

In contrast to the very manicured and rigid developments of the French side of the Pyrenees, the Spanish side has a more down to earth beauty, more “real” and less manicured gardens and public places and less strict planning and building rules. Both sides are very beautiful, but it is in Spain that we have chosen to focus the trip. It is here that we really are able to see the quaint life of Basque countryside juxtaposed with the cosmopolitan and raucous life of the cities. From the Pyrenees foothills along the Atlantic coast and in to the vineyards of the La Rioja valley you will enjoy the diversity and beauty that the Basque country has to offer.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Our guests arrive to Biarritz airport. From the airport we go by van across beautiful rural and woody countryside and old quaint villages of the French Basque Country to St. Jean de Pie de Port. Here we will get acquainted, prepare bikes, and enjoy a fantastic meal in this quaint hotel. Meals: (D).

Day 2: St. Jean de Pie de Port to Oieregi (60 km). From St. Jean de Pie de Port we will ride over beautiful wooded roads to the small village of Oieregi in Spain. The area has many historical buildings, mainly built in the XVIII Century by wealthy emigrants to South America. We will enjoy a BBQ at Palacio de Reparacea, an XVIII Century manor house on the banks of the Bidassoa River where Ernest Hemingway used to stay on his way to Pamplona. Check in at a XVIII Century house converted into a comfortable hotel in Oieregi. Meals: (B), (L) and (D).

Day 3: Oieregi to San Sebastian (50 km). Depart Oieregi and ride along a cycling route on the banks of the river to the typical village of Lesaka where we will admire its medieval fortress, rural stone houses and typical streets. From Lesaka we will climb up a mountain pass towards the province of Guipuzcoa through a forested route where we will enjoy magnificent views on our way to San Sebastian. Tapas dinner in the Old Quarters. Meals: (B), (L) and (D).

Day 4: Day trip from San Sebastian to the walled border city of Fuenterrabia (50 km). We will cross the port on a ferry through Pasai Donibane, a beautiful fishing village, and continue along a road with breathtaking sea views. In Fuenterrabia we will have time to admire the Old City and its many monuments. In the afternoon the we will return to San Sebastian. Meals: (B).

Day 5: San Sebastian to Lekeitio (80 km). Depart San Sebastian via the coastal road towards Lekeitio. The curving coastal route passes fishing ports, forests and beautiful hidden rocky beaches before arriving in Lekeitio a fishing port and summer resort for the people of Bilbao. We will spend the night at the resort where Zita, the last Empress of Austria, spent few years of exile after WWI. Free time to explore the fishing village. Meals: (B) and (L).

Day 6: Lekeitio to Bakio (75 km). Continue on the coastal road towards Playa de Bakio passing again along fishing villages and the Mundaka Estuary, one of the most beautiful coastlines of Spain. We will spend the night in the village of Bakio. Meals: (B) and (L).

Day 7: Bakio to Bilbao (30 km). From Bakio we will proceed by bike along the coastal route into Plentzia. On arrival at Plentzia we will take the new underground system into the city center. In the afternoon we will visit the famous titanium clad Guggenheim Museum. Dinner in the Old Quarter where we will enjoy a tapas dinner at one of the best known bars of the city. Meals: (B) and (D).

Day 8: Leave Bilbao by van after breakfast (30 km). From here the landscape will change dramatically, from the very green and relatively woody coastal area to a more yellowish and brown earthy colors of the Spanish plateau. We will enjoy lunch in one of the many quaint bodegas near Haro, capital of the Rioja wine area and where many of the Bodegas have their headquarters. The vineyards are manicured and operations are carried out with extreme care. October is the vintage month. During that time, you can see people on the fields cutting the grape bunches.

Through this very clear landscape we will arrive to the Monasteries of San Millan de la Cogolla, UNESCO World Heritage sites. The two monasteries are of a great interest one because its antiquity with many Moresque motives, the other because its size, treasures and library. They are the cradle of the Spanish language as it was at the Monasteries of Yuso that the first words of Spanish were written by monks in the early middle ages. Meals: (B) and (L).

Day 9: Haro (30 km). We will ride in the river Ebro valley through the many vineyards of Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Alta, the main wine areas of the Denomination de Origen. Wine is the main economic activity of the region and this can clearly be seen. Along the way we will stop at the medieval fortified village of Briones. Meals: (B) and (L).

Day 10: Haro to Laguardia (50 km). Ride from Haro to Laguardia. From Haro, we will continue through the countryside as we climb up the sierra to enjoy again the landscape from the "Balcon de La Rioja" a famous panoramic view of the area. Our efforts climbing the Balcon will be rewarded with a fast descent on our way to Laguardia. Meals: (B) and (L).

Day 11: Laguardia to Codes (50 km). Ride from Laguardia along a beautiful mountain route out of the La Rioja valley to the beautiful hillside monastery at Codès. For dinner we will enjoy a BBQ. Meals: (B), (L) and (D).

Day 12: Return to Oieregi (50 km). Ride from El Plazaola to Oieregi. From Codès, we will transfer by van back to the base of the Pyrenees. By bike, we will ride through a railway converted to a beautiful bike path. In Leitza will exit the bike path and ride a stunning mountain pass back to the village of Oieregi. Farewell dinner. Meals: (B), (L) and (D).

Day 13: Depart to Biarritz. Transit to the airport in Biarritz or other arrangements for further travel. Meals: (B).

Airfare is not included in the tour price.