Txoko and Batzoki-II

19 01 2010

So you arrive into the Basque Country and notice that, unlike your country of origin, there are bars. Many bars, as in the rest of Spain (although our level of alcoholism is not higher to that of your country, paradoxically). Bars in Spain and in the Basque Country are places to socialize, to meet, to talk, to enjoy a small drink and a “pintxo” or “tapa”, but not to get drunk (at least, not their main target)…well, you already know this. So you enter in a bar, and find that there´s a lot of Basque memorabilia on it: flags, pictures of people in Basque berets and of traditional Basque sports, Basque symbols everywhere…welcome, you´re now in a “batzoki”, roughly translated, “the place to meet”. Batzokis belong to the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV-EAJ) and are everywhere…there´s one per town over 1000 people, at least. They serve as places where members of this party (over 100 years old and in power for 30 years, just until last year) like to have a drink and hold meetings. They are bars in the strictest sense of the word: entrance is public and you get the same as in every other bar. Famed for their excellent food, pintxos and low prices (not so low now), they are very popular, even among those that do not hold the same political views.

The new strategy of the PNV regarding batzokis is to modernize them with a mixture of traditional and very modern interior arquitecture, to offer excellent menus at very good prices and to win every pintxo contest held in the Basque Country. And a familiar atmosphere too.

The extreme left nationalist parties also have their “Herriko Tabernas” or “People´s Taverns”, much more radical in looks and many of them clearly supporting ETA violence (many are being closed now under the new laws that have ilegalize these parties). The socialist party has their “Casa del Pueblo”, “People´s Home”, also a bar but not as popular as batzokis.


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2 responses

10 11 2010
Laura

Hello and huge thank you for your words. We leave Bilbao on June 5th and are booked in San Sebastian on the 8th. My husband and I are interested in a 3 night stay June 5-8, 2011 in Lekeitio and we love the sea side. Do you have a recommendation? If you can suggest something other than there we welcome that too. Sincerely, Laura

10 11 2010
mugalari

thank you for your kind words. You may know that I´ve a new blog, blogseitb.us/basquetourism, where you will find more info on this beautiful area. In Lekeitio i recommend the Hostal de la Emperatriz, facing the sea and on the town center. It has also a spa and it´s just above one of the three beaches of Lekeitio. You may also want to stay maybe for a day in Getaria, Hotel Saiaz, for example, or in Zarautz, in Hotel Argiñano.

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