This was genuinely my favorite trip around the Greater Basque Country. Two hours south of Bilbao, in the mountains of Navarre, lies a hidden gem of the region. Urederra is the exit of a natural aquifer cut into the karst that makes up the mountains of the region.
The name Urederra derives from the Basque language: Ura, which means water, and ederra, which means beautiful. And the sight matches the name perfectly. The unique way in which the water exits from the rock and the constitution of the floor of the pools creates a crystalline turquoise body of water that stretches approximately 19 km and is made up of a series of waterfalls, streams, and small pools. The area that we visited was obviously made for tourists as a trail led down the mountain from a small village and the waters were mostly protected by rope railings and small fences.
The beauty of the oasis in the woods really struck a chord with me. There are areas like this all over the globe and they need to remain protected. Urederra just represents that idea for me as I have seen it in person and experienced its beauty.
Our final stop was in Pamplona, but we had a pit stop along the way. We followed the path of those that take the Camino de Santiago, a Christian pilgrimage that follows a path through northern Spain, and found an interesting location. Bodeges Irache is a winery that originally functioned as a monastery’s vineyard and hospital for those taking the pilgrimage. In 1991, the company built a fountain that allows travelers to stop and sample the wine for free. The spot was already known for its bread and wine along the Camino since the 12th century; the addition of a free fountain is just a nice touch.
As previously said, our final stop was in Pamplona, the capital of Navarre. The city is the second largest in the Greater Basque region and is well known for a specific festival that not all survive.
Pamplona is most well known for the Festival of San Fermin, which culminates in the running of the bulls. This part of the festival is extremely dangerous for all involved. For our tour of the city, we followed the path of the bulls, as they are taken from their stables, led through narrow streets and into plazas. They are led through the city and into the bullfighting ring, where an event is held starring the six bulls from the run earlier in the morning. The first running of the bulls takes place on July 7 and one is held every morning until the 14th.
The city, and this event is also well known in the United States and England due to the writings of Ernest Hemingway, namely The Sun Also Rises. The novel describes the events of the bull run in Pamplona. Hemingway visited the city many times during his life, usually to watch the bull fighting. Through his novel and experiences, Hemingway popularized the city worldwide.
While the city of Pamplona itself was beautiful and rich with history and tradition, Urederra means so much to me, and given the chance, I would return in a heartbeat.