Day 7

Visiting the Alluitz Natura Farm and Gernika

We packed our bags and loaded the bus heading towards two different locations, the Alluitz Natura Farm and Gernika. At Alluitz Natura Farm we got to make cheese, feed some goats, and enjoy some nature. In Gernika, we took a tour of the town followed by looking at the replica of the painting Pablo Picasso did of Gernika.

Day 7 finished in our final town of Bilbao, the capital of the Vizcaya Provence. We said goodbye to our bus driver as this was the last place we would stay. Before arriving, we had a blast touring both the Alluitz Natura Farm and Gernika.

Touring the Alluitz Natura Farm

In regard to events we did on the tour, this was the most fun. The most inspiring was walking on el Camino but how can seeing goats and eating cheese not be a highlight of the tour? Nestled just north of Urkiola parke naturala is a small dairy and educational cheese making farm called Alluitz Natura Farm. Owned by a former rock star, he now gives tours of his farm which includes making different types of cheeses. His sheep dogs greet you upon entry to the farm, and we about lost Jordan to the rest of the activities as she was so excited to pet the dogs and cat. When not greeting tourists, they herd the small number of sheep located in the land, about 100 in total. The owner said he doesn’t make the cheese to sell anymore, only to teach people how it is made, therefore not needing that many sheep. He lives and teaches on his farm.

We got a master class in making cheese. While the herders were out in the mountains tending their sheep, they would get the milk and make their cheese. This was both to feed themselves and to sell to make money. In Euskara, he took us step by step in the cheese making process – it involves a lot of gentle stirring. We wrapped up by pouring our concoction into clay molds where they had to sit in order for the cheese to harden. Of course, we enjoyed these cheeses after they set. Fresh cheese yum!

Farm Cat—Star of the Show

Jordan with Alluitz Natura Farm cat
Jordan couldn’t resist holding the cat

The farm cat was really the star of the show. Yes, the sheep dogs are fun and rambunctious and the sheep, see below, are adorable. But when that cat came in and just laid down, everyone paid attention. Infact, the class came to a pause when the owner commented about the cat really running the show here. Even Jordan couldn’t resist picking up the cat and holding it like a baby, heck nor could the owner.

Owner of Alluitz Natura Farm and his cat
Owner of Alluitz Natura Farm and his cat

Bring on the sheep!

Sheep feeding was next on the itinerary. He doesn’t have a lot of sheep on the farm, they are primarily for educational purposes. The sheep know when the tour buses pull up, they are about to be fed! Sheep are such gentile and adorable animals. They got milk from a bottle and feed from our hands. All too happy, they gathered near us for the opportunity to eat. Of course, with this came their droppings! You had to be careful to not step on too much poop!

While he had recently milked the sheep, he did find a few that had some milk left. Only two of us volunteered to get hands on experience in milking sheep, can you guess who?

Jordan learning to milk sheep
Click to see Jordan Milking sheep

On to Gernika

Jordaniel standing in from of Gernika

On our way to Bilboa, we stopped at Gernika. Francisco Franco, the dictator of Spain between 1939 and 1975, offered the town of Gernika to Hitler to test one of his bombs. It was a tragic moment in Spain’s history and this the bloodshed and aftermath of the bombing was devastating. Pablo Picasso came to the town and created a painting based on testimonials of what happened and what he saw. The famous painting is simply called Gernika, after the town. There is a mural on a town wall showcases a replica of this famous painting. We toured the town, seeing where the initial bombs hit—a school—and the famous replica from Pablo Picasso.

Gernika replica by Pablo Picasso

The painting brings forth many images left to interpretation by the viewer. A solider laying on the floor with a broken sword. A horse screaming as a bright light comes in. Misshapen bodies are seen throughout the painting. People screaming in shock of what happened. This was a troublesome moment to digest, thinking a dictator would offer a town to buddy up to another dictator.

Final Stop, Bilboa

Literally the final stop on the tour and the day. About an hour east of Gernika, we bid adieu to our bus driver and the bus. Bilboa, the capital of the Vizcaya Provence, was our final city in this tour. Bilboa gets a reputation for being a grungy, working class city. The Nervion River runs through the town giving it what we felt was a charming aspect. Bilboa and San Sebastian have a love-hate relationship. Bilboans claim their city is better, higher class, bigger buildings, greater architecture. While San Sebastians will boast that Bilboa doesn’t have a beach!

After checking into the Hotel Mercure, Todd took us on our final orientation tour of the town. Showing us places he frequents while in Bilboa and sightseeing opportunities to take advantage of. Perhaps the most famous aspect of Bilboa is the Guggenheim, which was explored on Day 8.

Google map created by Todd Hudnall
Google map created by Todd Hudnall

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