I checked the weather forecast, and the winter rain of Bilbao appears to be arriving soon. I decided to check out a route in Zeanuri, near the mountain of Gorbea. I caught the 9:15 BizkaiBus to Zeanuri that leaves the Abando train station and was in Zeanuri by 10:15 for the day’s adventure. He mirado la predicción del tiempo, y me parece que la lluvia del invierno de Bilbao va a llegar pronto. He decidido intentar una ruta en Zeanuri, a lado del monte Gorbea. Cogí el Bizkaibus a las 9:15 que sale de Abando y llegué en Zeanuria una hora después para la aventura del día.
The trail leaves from the centre of the village. After having a quick café con leche, I set on my way. The village of 1290 is 33 km from Bilbao (19,8 miles) and is a good base to explore Gorbea. I tried to follow a route from the brochures I picked up in Deba that one time, but it was not well marked. As I did not want to get lost, I ended up taking a shorter route that took me to an ermita (hermitage) and offered spectacular views of the Basque mountains. El sendero sale del centro del pueblo. Después de un café con leche, empecé la ruta. El pueblo de 1290 está a 33 kilometros de Bilbao y es un sitio bueno para explorar Gorbea. Intenté seguir una ruta de los folios que cogí en Deba, pero no estaba muy bien señalado. No quería perderme, y por eso seguí otro sendero más corto que me llevó a una ermita y ofreció vistas espectaculars de los montes vascos.
I decided to head back through Areatza, population 1227, which is a really beautiful mountain village and home of a Centro de Interpretación de Gorbea. I arrived just in time to catch the Bizkaibus back to Bilbao. Decedí volver por Areatza, un pueblo muy bonito de 1227 habitantes. Hay un Centro de Interpretación de Gorbea allí. Llegué justo a tiempo para coger el Bizkai bus a Bilbao.
It was a nice farewell to an incredible autumn the Basque Country has been having. Now comes the rain. Era una buena despedida a un otoño increíble en Euskadi. Ahora viene la lluvia.
Date of Hike: 15.Nov.2015
Point of Departure: Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) of Zeanuri
KM Hiked: Maybe 8.
Time of hike: 2 hours.
Gorbea (Gorbeia in Basque/Euskera), is the highest mountain in the provinces of Vizcaya/Bizcaia and Álava/Araba in the Basque Country at 1482 metres high (4862 feet). It is one of the most important mountains for the Basques, who traditionally climb it the last day and/or first day of the year. I’ve heard many tales of its beauty and wonder since arriving in Bilbao last year, but I’ve never had the opportunity to go. It’s been on my list, but something else always got in the way. When you live in an area so rich in culture, history and natural beauty, it’s kind of hard to decide where to go when.
On my quest to find some beautiful fall foliage, I finally decided to check out Gorbeia. I originally was going to take the bus from Bilbao to Vitoria-Gasteiz that stops in the villages, but rain here and according to Apple Weather in Zeanuri (a village of Gorbeia) gave me pause. I waited an hour, missing the bus but finishing an excellent Spanish film about two friends hiking in Aragón, Viaje a Surtsy, while waiting. The film inspired me to go ahead and just do it.
By the time I arrived, the sun was coming out
like Ty Herndon. Instead of getting off in Zeanuri, I was inspired to hop off the bus last-minute in the beautiful village of Areatza. This was what I was expecting Santa María de Cayón to look like last week (only non-Basque architecture.) Santa María was beautiful, but Areatza was more special for me. Although it was hard to find a place with a decent tortilla de patata (potato omelette, I’ve lived in Bilbao for so long now that I cannot translate that as Spanish omelette, barkatu!) I explored the village a bit before setting out on a paved trail. As it was my first time, I wanted to stick to the main roads as I knew it would be easy to get lost.
I was met with amazing beauty and the last of the autumn foilage. I walked for about two hours before turning around to try to find something to eat back in Areatza. The place has no good pintxo bars for being so Basque, unfortunately. I had just missed the bus back to Bilbao, but the bus to Zeanuri came along, so I took it and explored Zeanuri a bit. It was nice, but Areatza was more visually appealing. Zeanuri, however, is the best place to explore Gorbeia if you have to rely on public transport from Bilbao.
When I go back this winter, I will definitely catch the bus that stops in the villages along the way to Vitoria-Gasteiz and get off in Barazar. It’s something I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to reaching the metal cross at the top of the mountain that spans two provinces.