Archive for the Guernica Category

Guernica – eating out

Posted in Basque Country, Guernica, Spain with tags , , , on October 21, 2017 by gannet39

As I say I was only in town for two days, a Sunday and a Monday, which is when many places are closed, so please don’t consider this to be a guide to the dining scene in Guernica. There are other places, like Zallo Barri, that I didn’t get to try that are probably better, but these two are definitely good spots. The first is trad, the second is modern.

Restaurante Boliña El Viejo (Intermediate B+), 1 Calle de Adolfo Urioste,

I love this kind of old school comedor as it’s like being transported back in time. Don’t expect haute cuisine, just good, honest home-cooked food. It’s a local institution, hence the nickname ‘El Viejo’, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding it.

I came once for Sunday lunch and again on Monday evening when most other places are closed.

To eat a proper sit-down meal, pass by the terrace and go through the boisterous bar to the separate dining room at the back. There you will be cared for by a slightly frail but very lovely old lady. Your best food Spanish will be required as she may go off menu when suggesting things to eat.

On one occasion I had the Menu del Dia (€20) and got Sopa de Pescado; a fish, maybe tuna?, stew (B+).

Then, fluffy and sweet Bacalao Bizkaiaya (B); saltcod baked in tomato sauce in the Biscay style.

The Itsas Mendi Blanco Txakoli was cheap at €9 but okay (B).

Some Leche Frita to finish (B).

Another time I tried the local Gernikako Piperrak, fried green peppers (A), which have their own DOP.

Followed by the Solomillo de Ternera (B).

And finishing with Manchego cheese with Membrillo quince paste (B).

The coffee is surprisingly good too (B+).

On Sunday the comedor gets very busy but on Monday evening after dessert it was so quiet I had to gently wake up my server who was sitting upright having a nap.

For a livelier atmosphere you only have to step back into the busy bar, swapping one character for another. When I was there the funny bartender was communicating with his co-workers through whistles and coarse expressions in English that kept everyone amused.

I had a Pacharan from neighbouring Navarre (B+)…

… and gazed at the pictures on the wall showing Pelota stars and farmers with huge bulls.

My interest was piqued when I saw the bartender making a similar aperitif to a Negroni. As my regular readers will know I love a good cocktail so I had to try it.

The ingredients were ‘Yzaguirre’ Catalan vermouth (an old friend from Oviedo), Campari, Angostura bitters and something unknown from an unlabelled bottle. It wasn’t bad at all (B) but I prefer a gin in there.

On a Monday night when most places were closed the hotel receptionist suggested that I try Restaurant 1000 Azul (same company as below?) or Hiru Saku, both on Calle Pablo Picasso, but the former looked too pricey, albeit very good, and the latter a bit boring, so I went back to Bolina El Viejo instead.

1000 Coloraos (Intermediate A), 9 Plaza San Juan Ibarra

This modern pintxos bar was TripAdvisor #3 when I was in town, and #1 at the time of writing in 2017.

I dined here three times in all, twice in the evening, and again for lunch. I ate very well each time but admittedly I also came so that I could watch Euro 2016 in the bar area. The small restaurant area is more secluded should you not be a fan.

All the pintxos and raciones I ate here were ‘muy rico’ and very reasonable. I can recommend the Hamburguesita Buey, the Solomillo Foie Hongos and the Arroz Cremoso (all A). Can’t remember what this was but it was undoubtedly very good and more photogenic than the others!

I ate well in Guernica but I’m aware I just scratched the surface of this little town. I’m sure there’s much more to it.


Guernica – walking around

Posted in Basque Country, Guernica, Spain with tags , on October 20, 2017 by gannet39

Although quite a small town, Guernica (or Gernika in Basque) is the political and spiritual home of the Basques. The national assembly for the Basque country is here as is the Gernikako Arbola, an oak tree that is the symbol of their democracy, which is one of the oldest in the world.

The town is also known for being the subject of Picasso’s famous painting Guernica which hangs in the Reina Sofia in Madrid. The picture depicts the horrors of the bombing raid on the town inflicted by German aircraft on behalf of the Francoists during the civil war. 1,654 civilians were killed and much of the town was destroyed as these pictures show.

There is a tiled mural copy of Picasso’s painting called ‘Mural del “Guernica” de Picasso
which you can see on Pedro de Elejalde Kalea, at the top of San Juan Kalea.

I’ve seen the original hanging in the Reina Sofia in Madrid. It’s a huge work and very moving, it made me weep when I saw it. Here’s an informative video about the painting.

The guerniqueses named a street in the centre of town after the famous Catalan painter. There are a few good bars and restaurants along here so it’s a good place to come in the evening.

There is also a statue here for José María Iparraguirre, the Basque bard, who wrote a famous anthem for the Gernikako Arbola.

There are a few attractive buildings nearby, along Carlos Gangoiti Kalea, probably built since the bombing.

The town was founded by Count Tello in 1366 as his statue attests.

As there wasn’t much else to do, I spent my Sunday walking around, taking in the scenes of everyday life.

Rain is a frequent occurrence so it makes sense to take precautions.

These kids going down a suicidally steep hill on anything with wheels reminded me of my own childhood!

Other things that caught my eye included the local council’s attempts at skimping on fountain repairs…

…and all the shop signs were written in Basque-style lettering with its distinctive As.

I was put up at the Hotel Gernika at 17 Carlos Gangoiti which was fine if a bit dated but otherwise unremarkable.

There’s lots more to see and do no doubt, I was just unlucky to be here on the two quietest days of the week when everything was closed, I would happily have stayed on a bit longer though. Please see my next post for eating and drinking.

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