My Guide: from Zarauz to Zumaia in the C-Class.
Dream route that leaves a lasting impression.
Rough, rugged, pure, authentic – the view of the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula, which is always a bit wilder than the rest of the country. Right here there is an AVIS Best Road, one dream route, where there is something worth stopping for almost every kilometre. Between the Basque towns of Zarauz and Zumaia lies this paradise with a coastal route where the rugged land and the raging sea meet, and, most impressive of all, where millions of years of the history of the earth are clear to view, providing a lasting impression.
Touring with Eli and Helena.
Bloggers Helena Ontoria Castillo and Eli Estrada drove the route in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Right at the start, in the little town of Zarauz, it’s clear: here you can see the countryside and the people at their most pure, most original and most natural. And that goes for the whole route right up to Zumaia.
Concentrating on the essentials.
“Getting back to basics,” says Helena. Here, you can definitely do that. Partly because between Zarauz and Zumaia there would only be the good or the best out of simplicity. The C-Class is the ideal match for this stretch of coastal road with all its hairpin bends.
It's not tricky, but it is utterly beautiful. The car glides smoothly around the bends and over the asphalt, making the trip thoroughly enjoyable from a handling point of view. The finely-tuned suspension is a truly enjoyable experience.
Honest, authentic, delicious food.
In Zumaia the two set off for a walk through the town. After all that clean, fresh air, time has just raced by. A snack, or maybe something bigger, would be just the thing now. They plump for the Justa Taberna. Simply decorated, but honest and authentic, this is the restaurant the locals in particular love for its excellent food. There is a wide choice of fresh fish, and also pleasantly light white and rosé wines.
And as there are no frills, you can sense and experience the Basque lifestyle to the full.
The great outdoors is everywhere.
The great outdoors is everywhere. The thundering sound of the sea accompanies you for long stretches. You take a deep breath, and tranquillity returns, brushing away any thoughts of what tomorrow might bring. Again and again, there is an opportunity to stop to enjoy the atmosphere and hold on to the experiences, so that days or weeks later you will still be able to enjoy them.
Lots of ambience and even more charm.
The drive continues past ancient, defiant stone houses, just as characteristic of the region as the wild forests along the route are. A brief detour inland leads to Asador Bedua. The restaurant on the banks of the river Urola Ibaia has a rustic charm which is never overstated. Rather, it is in one of those typically Basque houses and is a real regional hot spot. Honest, down-to-earth and with plenty of charm: that goes both for the ambience and for the cuisine. It is very difficult to know which of the many delicious dishes to choose.
Bizarre and fascinating at the same time.
By the cliffs close to Zumaia, the highlight is still waiting for the two bloggers – the spectacular view over the Bay of Biscay. From here, your eyes wander along the horizon. This lets you feel that unique harmony with nature and makes the rest of the world seem unimportant. The cliffs on the so-called Flysch Route are some of the most grandiose natural phenomena in the world; they show the history of the earth in its most bizarre and most fascinating way.
The layers of sediment can be seen on the shore like graphic lines, and they make it strikingly clear how elementally powerful the forces of nature can be, even if everything might look quite harmless.
A sad farewell.
Even though every journey and every trip has to end sometime, it can be very hard to say goodbye. It is with great regret that they say farewell to the sea, the clean, fresh air, and the down-to-earth people. But none of us can escape everyday life – although we can take endless valuable memories back with us. And the region around Zarauz and Zumaia provides plenty of those. In order for that to happen, one of the most important pieces of advice when travelling to the Basque country is: keep your eyes and heart open on your journey.