TWO DAYS IN ELORRIO
with the Family
We are Leti, Fernando, Nerea and Ane and this is the story of our visit to Elorrio.
We were looking for a place with a little of everything: an attractive old quarter, places where we could enjoy the local cuisine and countryside that was easy to reach with the children. And we found the answer in Elorrio, where the family went for the weekend.
We knew nothing about Elorrio, so we decided to take an audio-guided tour of the town to take in the main sights.
The children’s favourite was Errebonbillo, a life-size sculpture of a soldier. Its name derives from the order to open fire given in Basque: “Erre bonbilloa!” There is even a legend linking it to the battle of Lepanto.
Every year the town celebrates Errebonbillo day, when local young people dress as soldiers and fire guns into the air.
The Casa Jara mansion
We adults particularly enjoyed the fine mansions and gardens, which looked as if they had come straight out of an old film. It is easy to imagine high society soirées in such places. One that I remember especially is Casa Jara, because we took so many photos there.
Even the bar was in an old mansion house! It was like travelling to another world: there we were eating pintxos surrounded by mansions from an earlier age.
"El mejor lugar para disfrutar de la naturaleza y la gastronomía en familia"
LETI SANTIAGO, Huesca
The Puerta del Campo gate
Another spot worth seeing in Elorrio is the gate in the old town wall known as the Puerta del Campo. It is literally adjacent (of course) to yet another mansion house, and one that is lived in to boot. It is called the Palacio Arespakotxaga and it was owned by a family so powerful that they were able to order part of the town wall to be demolished to build it.
In the afternoon, after lunch at a typical local restaurant, we carried on with our audio-guided tour.
The Tola mansion
One of the stops that impressed us most was the Palacio Tola. Its huge garden left us speechless. There were even the remains of an old tennis court in the garden. We were later told that this is one of the most outstanding examples of Baroque residential architecture in Bizkaia.
To end the day on a high note we went for a snack supper at a bar that was recommended to us, and chatted for a while with the locals, who told us more myths and legends of the town.
The next day we had a surprise prepared for the girls. All our family love nature and animals, so we went to Alluitz Natura to be shepherds for a day. In a word, it was a spectacular day.
Shepherd for a day
It is about 10 minutes’ drive from Elorrio to Abadiño, where Alluitz Natura is based, in the foothills of Mount Alluitz (hence the name) in the Urkiola natural park. This makes it the perfect setting for learning about rural life and for activities. We loved the countryside: some of the photos that we took there are shown here to give you an idea, but it is really much more spectacular in real life.
The first job of the day was to help Patxi to milk the sheep the old fashioned way. Patxi was the shepherd’s name: it turns out he was a city boy from Bilbao who one day decided to leave urban life behind him and move out to the mountains to work with sheep. He told us he had learned shepherding from YouTube. Could that be true?
After learning milking and finding out more about Patxi’s daily chores we moved on to droving: a stroll through the fields in this marvellous natural setting. Along with Patxi, who was excellent company, we were accompanied by his border collie Harri (whose name means “stone” in Basque).
The skill with which the sheepdog moved the flock of latxa breed sheep was incredible. All Patxi had to do was whistle and Harri moved the sheep directly from one field to another. It had to be seen to be believed!
After herding the sheep we learned how to make junket. It turned out really well for our first attempt, with all the genuine taste of latxa sheep’s milk.
While we were waiting the girls decorated the individual pots for each serving of junket. This was a great way of blending a creative activity with learning about local values as they produced attractive label designs for our junket.
To round off the day, Patxi told us that we could stay and have lunch at the tables looking out over a huge meadow with mountain views. We had packed a picnic lunch, so this seemed like a great idea. In short, this was one of the best activities we have ever done as a family. It was fun and interesting: we would recommend it to anyone.