Finally, in July 2021 I made it to the northern coast of Spain.

The Bizkaia region had been in my sights for several years, ever since a glorious evening in Girona, on the Mediterranean side of Spain, at Zanpanzar (Taverna Basca) in 2017, where my son Gianluca and I had gorged ourselves on the speciality of the Basque country – pintxos, which are tasty morsels of anything on slices of bread. I enjoyed these pintxos so much that I vowed I would one day go to their place of origin. The interest grew round about that time when I learned about other picturesque places in the region, in particular the beach town of Leikeitio and the enigmatic Gaztelugatxe peninsula.

Bizkaia is the region which gave its name to the large Bay of Biscay. This is a misnomer as the Bay of Biscay is actually a gulf with France to the east and Spain to the south. Being as it is a sort of extention of the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, it’s not exactly a tropical zone and even in summer the weather tends to be a bit cool. So I wasn’t expecting to arrive in any typically Mediterranean summer heatwave.

What I didn’t expect, though, was to find a full blown tempest as a welcome to the Basque Country. It was rainy, windy and quite cold for July when we arrived. A fine way to spend four days of summer holiday, I thought.

The following morning, I took a walk to the nearby beach, Arrietara, in Sopelana.

On the other side, the beach is watched over by a rocky promontory, with the flag of the Basque country proudly hoisted on top.

Surfers love it.

The weather would improve soon. The wind would calm down, the sun would come out, and we would – correction, I would – add the Bay of Biscay to the bodies of water where I have swum.

And what better way to round off a day enjoying the Basque coastline, than a delicious meal washed down with Sangria, while watching the sun set over Arrietara beach.

Got to love Spain.