Category: Blog MICE EN
Bilbao, Destination MICE
Bilbao as a city has changed a lot, recently, for those who have always known it. This city, established more than 700 years ago has undergone an important transformation since the mid ’80s of the previous century up until today.
The so-called industrial transformation brought with it unemployment and social instability, it also showed the inhabitants of Bilbao a possible new future. What was previously an industrial city is today a city of services and each day, more and more focused on tourism. Green and leisure spaces have begun to occupy what were once industrial units and empty spaces.
The river of Bilbao is beginning to set itself up as another one of these spaces for activities, leisure and amusement. In this way, this mid-sized city situated along the shores of the Cantabrian Sea, has transformed into a beautiful and dynamic city that has turned out to be attractive for those people that come from other parts of the world and come to get to know us.
National and Foreign Tourism
Today, Bilbao is a valued tourist destination for those that come from the rest of Spain as much as those that come from other countries. One only needs to stroll through Casco Viejo (the Old Town) or around the vicinity of the Guggenheim Museum to realize that each day there are more and more tourists that visit.
Bilbao is a safe city, friendly and offers a wide variety of gastronomy, culture and entertainment, added to which is a modern and easily accessible public transport network.
Furthermore, Bilbao is not only a city, it is also coastal with the public transport system such as the metro or buses connecting large numbers of surrounding coastal municipalities to the Bizkaian capital, such as Portugalete, Santurtzi, Getxo, Plentzia or Gorliz amongst others.
Likewise, Bilbao is a metropolis that is increasingly attractive as a MICE destination. The number of meetings, congresses and events of a national and international nature, framed out in this sector and held in the city, grows year after year. Aware of this opportunity, businesses and institutions come up with, and present, joint strategies to respond to the needs of the sector.
As in the Bilbao Convention Bureau, a department affiliated to the City Council of Bilbao made up of companies, agencies and different city entities that count on the necessary infrastructure to promote and host congresses and conventions.
A Well-Connected City
Bilbao is a well-connected city that has an international airport and a public transport system of the same standard as any other top-ranking European city.
The Bilbao Airport is situated 12 kilometres from the centre of the city and can be reached easily by taxi or bus.
On the other hand, Bilbao, as of 2020, will be able to count on an intermodal bus station that will be connected to trains, the tram and the metro.
The metro is the mode of transport most widely used by the inhabitants of Bilbao. The metro quickly and efficiently connects the different neighbourhoods of the city to the adjoining municipalities of Bilbao, even reaching the coastal villages, offering direct access to the beaches on the coastline without needing to use your car.
Bilbao also relies on a well-established hotel accommodation offer. There are close to 74 hotels that make available a total of 4000 rooms to visitors.
Gastronomy, Culture and Leisure
Gastronomy is another important sector that the city counts on. As Basques, we love to eat, and we love to eat well! That’s why it is not unheard of that large numbers of restaurants offer an interesting mixed cuisine that combines the flavours and traditional preparations with a more modern cuisine, full of surprises. In fact, there are six restaurants in Bilbao that, today, can count on having Michelin stars.
Bilbao is also a city where cultural and leisure activities abound. The Guggenheim Museum is an icon par-excellence, but with its interesting exhibitions, The Bilbao Fine Art Museum is not left far behind, neither the Itsasmuseum (Maritime Museum). Its theatres such as the Arriaga or Campos Theatre, its event and conference halls for conferences and concerts such as the Euskalduna and endless alternative options spread out in different places across the city.
Activities and Experiences on Offer to Companies in Bilbao
Troka Abentura organize different activities and experiences for companies in the Bilbao area. Unique and entertaining proposals and closely tied to our culture and traditions are highly valued by companies entrusted to organize conferences, meetings and other corporate events in our city and the surrounding areas.
For example, we organize different team working dynamics such as ’Team Building Land Challenges’ or ’Herri Kirolak-Participation’ (Basque Rural Sports). Not forgetting the ‘Gymkhana Cuadrilla (Team) iPad’, one of the many experiences that is, of late, in high demand.
Furthermore, if what you enjoy is to celebrate company events in an incredibly natural environment, Troka Abentura bases its activities close to Bilbao, alongside the beach of Gorliz. Aquatic Gymkhanas, Canoe and BigSUP routes, coasteering activity sessions, … all that you can imagine and more.
If you need more information about our proposals for companies, simply visit our MICE section.
We await you at Troka Abentura!
Petritegi Cider House
Today we head towards one of the most prestigious cider houses in the Basque Country, we are referring to Petritegi. This beautiful cider house is situated 5 kilometres from San Sebastian, in Astigarraga, a cider-based municipality par-excellence, located in a grand and ancient farmhouse mentioned in documents and writings as far back as the 17th century.
Nowadays, Petritegi counts on modern installations that integrate to perfection, history and modernity. The nerve centre of Petritegi is its wine cellar where the visitors and cider enthusiasts are brought together to taste broth laced with apples collected from the surrounding orchards. Furthermore, Petritegi offers a first-class cuisine that permits clients to accompany the tasting with a typical Basque menu.
Cider and Company Events
Petritegi cider house makes available all the means and resources necessary to receive and hold company events and meetings. For that reason we count on different meeting rooms that can hold a capacity of up to 200 people and equipped with all the audiovisual means and connectivity needed, offering the possibility of a private kitchen suitable for the company to hold lunches and dinners as well as offer the perfect outdoor space to organize team-building activities and every other type of group dynamic.
Here, we frame out the Cider Break Experience proposal, presented by Petritegi and aimed towards companies that are inspired by Basque cider culture and the traditions of our land.
Part of the team from Troka Abentura will pack their bags and leave for an unknown destination. Having been assigned, for yet another year, to set up and coordinate all the events taking place during the 16th edition of the Conqueror of the End of the World. We are talking about the most famous adventure reality TV show from the Basque Country; broadcast on Basque television each year since 2005. We have already participated in three editions, two in Patagonia with finals in Perito Moreno Glacier (Argentina), the rafting descent on the Palena River, finishing in the Pacific (Chile) and finally one in Panama on the Pearl Islands, last year.
Awarded in 2008 with Best Independent Entertainment Programme for the Spanish Television Academy, it is, without a doubt, one of the most extreme reality shows to be found on TV. Each year, the selected contestants encounter limited conditions of survival and must rise above different challenges of real hardship. So, for viewers, it is expected to see aspiring contestants go through hunger, cold, thirst and endless situations; the least of which are complicated.
This reality show is enjoyed each year by an increasing number of followers and not only in Basque Country. It is followed in other regions, managing to reach, at times, TV ratings of over 25%. A true milestone reached for the programme producer, Hostoil, the Basque subsidiary of Globomedia.
At Troka Abentura we take it as a challenge that they count on us to prepare and organize the different events of the programme. We think of it as recognition for experience gained over the last 20 years managing and organizing adventure activities with groups of every age. We like what we do and believe we do it well.
In this new edition, we plan on coming up with exciting events that surprise all contestants and viewers alike. The adventure begins!
Cristina Da Rocha
Visits and activities coordinator at Cider House Petritegi
One of the most renowned cider houses in the whole of Gipuzkoa. The cider house Petritegi can be found in Astigarraga, heart and stronghold to cider in Gipuzkoa and wider Basque region.
This cider house has been producing excellent cider for five generations, made with apples from their own grounds. In principle, production was initially for family consumption. Nevertheless it didn’t take long to commercialize, selling to individuals, to other cider housed and, of course, supplying to fishing boats from Gipuzkoa.
Cristina Da Rocha is a member of the team from Petritegi and is the visit and activities coordinator.
Good morning Cristina, a pleasure to be with you. You’re the coordinator of visits and activities at Petritegi, could you tell us what your work involves?
Good morning, my work consists in managing all the activities offered at Petritegi related to guided tours, coordinating the guide teams, carrying out visits and serving to improve all the above. Also, coordinate the rest of the annual Petritegi activities, develop original projects and collaborate with others in the sector to create new synergies. It’s truly a great job!
Which season of the year do you receive the most visitors?
At Petritegi we offer visits throughout the year, but if I were to name a month that has the most visits … so far this year, it would be May. That is a beautiful season to tour when the orchards are in bloom and our landscape is even more spectacular. Another interesting season to come to Petritegi? Around September or October is the harvest collection of apples and cider-making season; travellers can experience first-hand, stages of the production process that in other seasons would be impossible to see. The smell of apples and recently pressed apple juice fills the entire surroundings of the farmhouse.
Regarding people and groups visiting Petritegi throughout the season, could you tell us if they’re local, national or international visitors?
The truth is that throughout the year, people visit from many places and concerning their nationalities, it varies depending on the month. In the ‘txotx’ (keg opening) season, the locals are the main visitors, cider being a deep-rooted tradition in Basque society. It’s true that in the last few years we have had a rise in national visitors, although the principal season is usually spring and summer. As for international visitors, they’re notably French and Anglo-Saxon world travellers, where the artisan cider movement has had a big uptake in the previous five years. In their own countries, cider is ‘in fashion’ and so they come and get to know the more authentic places related to traditional cider.
What type of product do they mostly request?
The most sought-after experiences are those that involve a guided tour followed by sampling the cider house menu. Local visitors are more inclined towards the ‘Gastronomy Experience’ including an hour length complete tour of every corner of Petritegi (farmhouse, apple orchard, presses and cellars) followed by lunch or dinner. The group or business visitors prefer the ‘Txotx Experience’ offering a half hour introduction to Basque cider culture with an audiovisual projection about Petritegi. This is followed by the conducting of a ‘txotx’ in the cellar and finally a lunch or dinner in the cider house.
We also have a growing demand for the business activities we offer in-house (multi-use spaces, exhibitions on Basque culture). This includes collaborations with other companies offering water sports (canoeing and trainera, traditional fishing boats with Arrauning, other activities from ‘Urumea el río de la Sidra’ or ‘Arraun-txiki’) or team-building activities (with Troka Abentura).
Petritegi receives visits from families, groups of friends, tourists and company groups. Have you noticed an increase or greater interest shown by agencies and companies in taking up visits, activities or events in your cider house? What type of activity or experience do they mostly request?
The truth is that agencies, as do companies, increasingly like to provide activities that are unique, authentic and multidisciplinary. Those that contain action, leisure, gastronomy, culture, etc. At the end of the day, they want their clients or employees ‘have a memorable experience’. Therefore, all on offer at Petritegi around this theme is found in the ‘Cider Break Experience’ concept. It encompasses everything from multi-use spaces right up to rural lodgings, experiencing the different activities mentioned earlier, the gastronomy, etc. The most requested, up to date, is the combo including the use of meeting or presentation rooms, guided tours and Basque culture (herri kirolak, dantza (dance), trikitixa Basque accordian) exhibition and cider house menu sampling.
How do you rate the synergy between your business and companies like Troka Abentura when designing products and meeting requirements of event agencies or other companies from the MICE sector?
At Petritegi, we uphold the ‘strength through unity’ ethos, so we’re convinced that this is an ideal collaboration for both companies. Together, we have the opportunity to create and offer better solutions for companies as much as for agencies to hold events. The offer, combined with activities that are varied, entertaining and authentic allow us position ourselves better in this sector.
What are your expectations for next year?
We hope to continue reinforcing our collaboration with Troka, an area we consider strategic, and ongoing to offer authentic experiences to the MICE public, companies and agencies and, of course, gain more cider enthusiasts!
Traineras, history with a taste of the sea
Without a doubt, one of the most well known and spectacular sporting competitions that we can experience on the Cantabrian coastline are the traineras (traditional fishing boat) regattas. Rowing boats from different municipalities that competing to see which one is the fastest.
As in other sports like football, basketball or rugby, this highly professionalized sports discipline has an entire network of teams, trainers, sponsors and captains. They work every day to ensure that their boat is the best.
The world of regattas continues to attract more and more support each year, passionate about the sport. Depending on the interest in the regatta, thousands of people move around following the clubs. Also, institutions themselves promote and support these gatherings. This is due to, on one hand, they’re considered an economic driver for local municipalities hosting the trials, and on the other, they’re an expression of our culture, history and marine traditions.
Presently, different clubs are comprised of professional rowers many of whom have actually no previous ties to working at sea. However, it hasn’t always been that way.
The Origin of Trainers Linked to Fishing Work
Since bygone eras, people needed physical strength to get their boats to reach grounds where they carried out their fishing work. Rowing was a necessary compliment to the power of the wind. These boats normally comprised of 13 rowers and a captain. The latter was generally the owner of the boat, oars, nets and other fishing-related tools.
The crew were usually contracted via a verbal agreement spelling out the working conditions and proportional sharing out of the earnings from selling the captured fish. Generally, it was done in the following way… The fish were sold and total income calculated, the expenses from buying supplies and other types of provisions, such as bait for fishing would be subtracted. Once covering these expenses, the 25% remaining was to take care of any damage and repairs to nets and the boat. The rest would be divided in equal parts amongst the crew.
Normally, the boats that arrived early to port with their cargo sold their fish at the best price in the auctions. This started to generate certain number of disputes amongst the separate fishing crew.
The Origin of the Trainers Related to Hauling or Towing
Another job done by these boats was the ‘atoaje’ (towing) or hauling of fishing or cargo vessels of enormous sizes, up to the port. Work was carried out in ports like Bilbao or Pasaia and was profitable.
This labour intensive work was also left to the fishing crew. The tougher ones and the more experienced would approach the larger fishing or cargo boats with their traineras, sometimes miles away from the port, to later tow them in. As it was well-paid work, there were races to see who could arrive first.
In fact, the first competition documented amongst traineras dates back to the year 1854 featuring three boats of Pasaia dedicated to towing work.
The ‘Alas’, boats for transporting goods
Aside from the traineras, another type of boat existed used for transporting goods, and occasionally, people. They were known as ‘alas’ or wings.
They were constructed out of wood and were generally eight to nine metres long. They were flat bottomed, had a narrow and flat stern and a flat and pointed bow that would permit them to dock in sand and silts. There were also ‘alas’ dedicated to fishing, in which case their measurements varied reaching up to between 10 and 12 metres long.
In any case, they were mostly used for transporting goods. Between one bank of the river and the other, between the ports and the wharves and the anchored boats at the port entrances.
Currently, the cider houses Petritegi and Lizeaga have promoted an initiative called ‘Urumea, Sagardoren Ibaia’. The aim is to highlight the important work carried out by the boats that used the river Urumea iban de Astigarraga to San Sebastian (Donostia) transporting every type of merchandise, specifically cider, produced on farms further up river.
The arrival of the steam engine
With the arrival of the steam engine, at the end of the 19th century, the need for rowers began to disappear. It was no longer necessary to have an enormous workforce of rowers to reach fishing grounds or to tow-in the great fishing or cargo boats that wanted to approach the port.
From that moment, their work went from being a necessary activity to being transformed into a tradition turned competition.
Trainers as a Sporting Event
As we mentioned earlier, in the year 1854 and during the festivities of San Juan (Gipuzkoa region) the first documented competition of traineras is recorded. The participants were rowers from Pasaia dedicated to ‘atoaje’ or towing, and the crew of the trainera ‘San Pedro la ganadora’.
Despite the fact that work for traineras was no longer necessary, the competitions amongst the different crew continued thanks to the passion of the coastal population.
Therefore, the first competition of the Bandera de La Concha (San Sebastian) was held in 1879. San Sebastian City Council included this sporting event in its programme for the festivities of the San Sebastian week long ‘Semana Grande’. From that date onwards and given the success of the first event, they made the decision to celebrate the regatta every year.
From Fishing Boats to Competition Boats
Until 1916 they continued using the traditional fishing boats in the sporting regattas. However, that year Vicente Olazabal fabricated, for the crew of Getaria, a sleek boat weighing 400 kg of which they baptized with the name ‘Golondrina’. Much later in 1944, Pedreña constructed a boat that weighed just 165 kg of which they gave the name ‘Cantabria’.
No longer needed for its original purpose, the design of the boats started changing and adapting to competitive needs. Since 1930, the sizes of the traineras are 12 metres in length, 1,75 m in width and 0,9 m in depth approximately. Furthermore, the weight began reducing making it faster and easier to move.
Modern trainers have little to do with those needed for fishing or towing back in their day. Even the way of rowing is different, adapting itself to the new boats and its uses.
Even the function of the captain has changed. Before, they were the owners of the fishing and rowing boats and had ultimate command. Nowadays, a diversification of roles exists. There are physical trainers, sports physicians, head coaches, technical trainers. The captain is no longer the senior rower with acquired knowledge and leadership qualities directing the boat with a strong hand. Today, the work is done by young sports people prepared for work, skilled in rowing or steering and capable of keeping the boat directed. Neither are the rowers the seamen that carried out towing work or took their boats up to the ports. Today the total practice of the rowers are as professional sportspeople, selected for sports teams and in many occasions with little or no connection to the sea, excepting the competition.
Tradition, Sport and Entertainment
Trainers are without a doubt one of the traditions, thanks to the sporting practice and the competition, maintained in collective memory right until today. That is why, up to now, old and young, women and men gather from miles around to take part at the different events celebrated across the length and breadth of the Cantabrian coastline.
At Troka Abentura we’re passionate about the boats, we love our traditions and we live with the sea, so much so that we have all the ingredients to be enthusiasts of this beautiful and demanding sports practice.
For that reason it would be fantastic to convert and adapt this practice into an experience directed at companies wanting to work on groups and team building dynamics. That is how the experience ‘traineras for company events’ was started. An activity aimed at businesses whereby participants can put themselves in the seat of a rower and together, as a team, row through waters of the Cantabrian sea.
Team Building for Sports Teams
In the same way that occurs with work or study groups, sports teams need the right group dynamic if they want to achieve great results in the long term. It’s essential that the members of the team know each other well, are aware of their individual capacities as well as the potential of the entire group. And most importantly, that each member of the team recognizes the qualities, strengths and weaknesses of all their colleagues.
Many sports teams sign up before the start of the season or move their players around a lot from one season to another. This means the group of people that enter the team aren’t the same each year. Some members come in and others leave. This high turnover means that the technical coaches have to work hard to make sure that the different members of the team get to know each other.
The idea is to gain a high level of internal cohesion between the distinct members of the team. The higher the grade of cohesion, the easier it is to meet the goals fixed at the start of the season.
The concept of ‘internal cohesion’ is, therefore, one of the fundamental pillars in the building of a team, requiring the technical coaches to have a wide range of knowledge, known as ‘group engineering’. It’s a slow process, it needs to be well planned out and continue developing from one season to another. We’re essentially talking about constructing a team and this needs support from every side.
It’s vital that all, from the trainer to the captain, are committed to this objective and, to a large degree, lead the process. Leadership, when looking for ‘internal cohesion’ is fundamental. The majority of teams that show problems of leadership actually don´t function well as a proper team.
‘Internal cohesion’ offers a great number of benefits to the group
- Individual interests take second place to the set of shared values that bind the group.
- Internal communication is more fluid and multi-directional.
- The members of the group are more likely to jointly search for solutions in the face of difficulties and conflicts.
- It creates feelings of contentment that strengthen and reinforce the team, of which later translates into improved efficiency.
- The people that integrate into the team have a higher level of motivation.
How can we work on ‘internal cohesion’
As we mentioned previously, we’re dealing with a process that is medium to long term. In this way, the work of the trainers and technical coaches is fundamental.
For this reason it is essential to get to know the team individuals and also enhance a group ethos amongst the members. Furthermore, it’s important to work on the identity of the group so that the participants feel part of an entity that is different, unique and distinct from the rest.
Additionally, it’s key to mark out collective targets that help to cultivate a sense of identity in the group. These goals need to be attainable, if we set objectives or goals that are unrealistic we will add to frustration instead of encouraging motivation.
The trainer and technical coaches need to have close contact with the team. They need to know what is going on at each moment so that in the case of problems, a solution can be found promptly.
Neither can the trainer be an elusive figure, viewed by the team as an intrusive figure. For that reason, it is vital that the technical team identify a leader from the team, someone whose day-to-day support can be counted on.
The importance of ‘outdoor’ activities
We refer to activities that are organized and implemented outside of the usual working environment and can be totally unrelated to the team’s particular sports activity.
These type of activities are useful tools for the trainer and technical coaches, seeing as they can help to identify the different roles adopted by the members of the group (leadership, planning, egoist…) and at the same time help to strengthen the relationships between people that shape and encourage group working.
The ‘outdoor’ activities are also useful for identifying new leaders, motivating group working, enhancing internal cohesion and an opportunity for people that shape the group to enjoy, play and associate in a relaxed environment and distant from the pressure of competition.
Workings and ‘outdoor’ activities for sports teams
At Troka Abentura we have a wide variety of experiences and activities geared towards promoting and shaping working in groups, in an unrivalled environment.
We rely on a basis of activities along the beach front of Gorliz with approximately 2000 m² of open-air space, apt for celebrating the diverse land-based activities such as gymkhana, tries at herri kirolak (Basque rural sports) and other varied dynamics of team building.
We also offer a wide variety of water-related activities like aquatic gymkhana, canoe routes and BigSUP, traineras (Basque whale boats) or coasteering outings. Activities especially designed for groups to enjoy and incorporates different working dynamics.
Furthermore, we can also go to the group’s place of work to develop distinct team building dynamics, a way of carrying out ’home-based activities’.
At Troka Abentura we have spent 20 years dedicated to active tourism and adventure and during this time, we have worked with a large number of clubs and sports teams, for example, Bilbao Basket (Basque basketball team).
If you would like to receive more information please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us!
Cider in Basque Country
Today we want to talk about one of the most renowned alcoholic drinks in Basque Country. We are referring to cider, and specifically, cider produced particularly in our region.
What Is Cider?
Cider is an alcoholic drink obtained from the fermented juice of apples or pears. In the case of our community, cider is solely produced from apples.
In fact, according to the Cider Association of Gipuzkoa, we understand the term ‘Basque cider’ as being that which is ‘crafted following traditional practices, without added sugar, that contains exclusively endogenous carbonic acid gas and that its minimum alcohol content is more than 4,5 deg’.
In Basque, we refer to cider by the name ‘sagardo’ which literally means ‘apple wine’.
History of Cider in the Basque Country
Since bygone eras, our fields and hillsides have been full of orchards, as testified in the writings of the first century, that speak about abundant apple orchards in Gaul and Vasconia. The works also mention a drink that was prepared in those regions; whose ingredients consisted of chunks of cooked apple and diluted in water and honey. This drink was called ‘phitarra’ by the Vascones.
But it isn’t until the 11th century, specifically until the 17th of April 1014, that we find a written text in Latin that talks about the production of cider in the Basque Country. From that date onwards, we discover various writings that speak about the productivity of cider not only in Iparralde yet also in Egoalde.
The cultivation of apple plantations and the production of cider was very important, in such a manner that in the Basque ‘fueros’ or historic rights, different laws dealt specifically with apples and cider. The first known regulations that deal with them date back to the year 1189 prohibiting the access of livestock into the orchards and imposing severe punishments on apple thieves. Even in the villas, for example, neither the trading of apples nor cider was permitted.
In this way, and up until the 19th century, the making of cider was well regulated. So much so that all cider houses, where cider was produced, were inspected at the start of each season.
Cider and the Sea
Cider was an important drink for the seafarers and fishermen that left our coastline to confine themselves in the world of vast oceans. During the Middle Ages and the 16th and 17th centuries, our seaman loaded their ships with great quantities of barrelled cider, estimated to be around 50.000 litres per boat.
Contrary to fresh water, which would go bad over time, the cider would not spoil and thanks to the fermentation process it conserved all its vitamin properties, that being a fundamental tool in the fight against ‘scurvy’.
Furthermore, the cider was useful to the seafarers and fishermen as a means of exchange. For example, in the 16th and 17th centuries, much of the Basque whaling factories situated on the coastline of Terranova, Labrador and the Gulf of San Lorenzo adopted the practice of forming Friendly Societies with the locals; swapping cider and bread for labour.
The Consumption of Cider
For many years, the production and consumption of cider was that of a family nature. It was not a commodity for buying or selling. Each farmhouse would prepare its own cider and consume it throughout the year. Nevertheless, and with the emergence of urban centres, cider became a consumer product.
It is in the rural areas and mountains of Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and northern Navarra, where wine did not arrive, that cider was the most typical alcoholic drink. During this time, cider was known as the ‘village wine’.
When the early urban centres started to appear, cider began to be commercialized and cider houses formalized, experiencing a golden age that extended right until the year 1500.
From that date onwards a long period of decline commenced mainly due to two factors. The first was the arrival of corn from the Americas, little by little they began substituting cornfields for the apple orchards as well as other types of cultivation such as the grapevine or wheat. The second factor was the introduction of wine through Navarra and Alava, slowly occupying the place once taken up by cider. In this way, our beloved cider returned to being simply family produced and consumed.
Finally, in the 20th century, cider lived through its worst era under the Franco dictatorship. Output dropped from 30 million litres during the 1920s to 1,25 million litres in the 1960s. They were hard years for cider houses that saw production of this drink relegated, almost exclusively, to certain areas of Gipuzkoa.
It was precisely in Gipuzkoa, starting from the decade of the 1980s, where cider began to recover a certain prominence; thanks to support from various institutions, individuals and associations.
Today, Basque cider has still not reached the figures that it had a century ago, but its consumption and market are currently experiencing moderate growth every year. This year, for example, 11,8 million litres was produced, of which 11 million was produced in Gipuzkoa.
The Txotx Season
The cider season or the season of Txotx normally begins around the second fortnight in January and lasts until the end of April. During this period it is typical to visit cider houses where cider is being produced and to savour it directly from the barrels. The tasting is accompanied by a good menu that usually consists of a bacalao (salted cod) potato omelette, fried cod with peppers, beef steak and a dessert of Idiazabal pressed cheese, membrillo (quince paste) and walnuts.
What is the meaning of ‘Txotx’?
Txotx is the action of opening the peg to the barrel, where the cider has been lying for some time and serve it into cups offered for tasting. It’s for this reason that the shout of ‘Txotx!’ signals for diners to stand up from the tables and head, glasses in hand, towards the kupelas (or barrels in Basque) where they’re filled directly from the tap.
Gipuzkoa Cider region, of Par Excellence!
In Basque Country there are around, 238 cider houses spread across the regions of Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia, Alava, Navarra and Iparralde (French Basque Country).
Gipuzkoa with 149 cider houses has the highest number, by far superseding Bizkaia with just 49 establishments in total. The most famous spaces are in Gipuzkoa, in the areas of Astigarraga, Hernani, Urieta and Usurbil all forming part of the most significant establishments in Basque Country. Just in Astigarraga there are 21 cider houses alone. Amongst them is the most important, Petritegi cider house, with five generations dedicated to the process of artisan cider making.
Tradition, Culture and Entertainment, will you join in?
At Troka Abentura we appreciate combining tradition, culture and entertainment when planning our activities and experiences for companies. That’s why we consider cider houses the ideal locations where these pieces all fit perfectly.
Gaining an understanding of how apples are collected, their juice is extracted and how cider is produced while enjoying a typical cider house meal. Ending the experience with a series of activities of herri kirolak (Basque traditional sports) or team building, all essential ingredients in achieving the perfect day.
If you have an event for businesses in mind, don’t hesitate to contact us on +349467742 65 or write to us at email@example.com and discover our proposals and unique experiences.
The ‘Flysch of Bizkaia – Flysch of Barrika’
Barrika, and more specifically, the Muriola beach houses one of the richest and most stunning ‘flysch’ formations in the world. To continue, we will explain why but before starting it would be interesting to describe what we mean when we use the word ‘flysch’.
The term ‘flysch’ is dated and originates from the German language. Its literal definition is ‘slide’, ‘flow’ or ‘land that slips’.
The flysch are rocky formations made up from sedimentary rock with a series of unique characteristics, whereby they alternate between sheets of hard stone like slate, limestone or sandstone with layers of softer material such as clay. Over time, erosion rapidly wears away the softer layers leaving the harder strata exposed, in themselves, worn away at a slower rate. This process is known as differential erosion.
So how do these sedimentary rock formations occur?
The different layers begin stratifying at the bottom of the ocean due to sediment accumulation consisting of varying densities. This build-up forms a laminate structure. Over time, and through different geological phenomena, these formations finally appear at the surface, creating spectacular and very distinct landscapes.
Many geologists consider flysch as one of the most important geological treasures in the world. Furthermore, through its different layers, scientists can gain access to the most significant geological episodes on Earth, spanning over millions of years. It is, therefore, not difficult to imagine why so many people regard these natural formations as authentic history books of rock.
Peculiarities of the Flysch of Barrika
There are various reasons why the Flysch of Barrika is a rarity. Firstly, it has ancient strata or layers dating back to more than 140 million years ago. These layers formed at the bottom of the ocean when the Basque Country was completely covered by the sea. At a single moment in history, both the Pyrenees mountain and the Cantabrian coast were raised above the water level exposing, in full view, these impressive formations.
Apart from that, the Flysch of Barrika occupies a relatively small expanse of area compared to other flysch sites; nevertheless, its varied layers are more pronounced having been formed at distinctly different geological stages. This makes their contrasting strata unique, worldwide.
Another consideration is that Neanderthal archaeological remains have been found in the Barrika area. For the Neanderthals, silex (flint) rock was an invaluable material, used for ornamental bead making right up to fishing utensils, arrow heads or spears, axes, knives and great variety of tools. For that reason, the cliffs of Barrika, rich in silex, were converted into an artisan centre of which, more than 150,000 years ago, had different workshops visited by the first humans. The visitors came from not only Bizkaia, but also Alava, Gipuzkoa, Navarra and extending into Asturias and Cantabria.
Unsurprisingly, the open-air deposits at Aranbaltza are considered one of the most important in the world.
Meanwhile, the silex obtained from the Flysch at Barrika is a darker shade of grey and contains different marine fossils.
Get to know the Flysch of Barrika guided by Troka Abentura
If you would like to see this beautiful site first-hand and discover its secrets written in the rocks, the Bio-Geo Ruta prepared by Troka Abentura is for you. Guided by one of our instructors and geologists, and accompanied by a group of your friends or colleagues from work, you can bear witness to this exceptional place of history created millions of years ago.
Also available are other outdoor experiences in the surrounding areas of the Flysch:
Ur SL and Troka Abentura SL, sums that multiply
Troka Abentura has been working directly on active tourism activities and adventure sports in the Basque country for the last 20 years. We can consider ourselves as one of the landmark companies in the sector. Over the years, and currently, we are working on proposals and adventure programs for schools, for families, multi-adventure activities for groups of friends, … a wide range of activities and experiences enjoyed by thousands of people who visit the Basque Country and decide to participate in our activities.
Like seasoned adventurers, a few years ago now, we started a new journey, thinking, reflecting, we saw ourselves prepared and took the decision to start working methodologies and proposals aimed at company events, activities for companies and experiences for companies. New challenges, new energies, new methods, new ideas, we were looking for innovation in the products and services. All of this has been one of our key or principal lines of work over the last few years.
On this path, like in the mountains, we came across people who followed the path up to the summit. We began talking, sharing experiences and exchanging anecdotes. We realised we were not alone, that there are others that work in the same way, that have similar experiences, sharing the same point of view, a way of portraying our country to those that visit, similar methods of working, a shared understanding of the region, of living the active tourism sector – natural tourism.
Like in many relationships between people, there is always a starting point, a ‘spark’ that turns into something that starts to shine. There is always a moment when, in a more or less human way, between two companies the ‘and why not?’, ‘shall we give it a go?’, ‘does it really work?’ happens.
And this is where we are at, where active tourism companies with experience like UR and TROKA have taken the step to jointly analyse their strategy looking at MICE tourism, tourism for companies, events and incentives.
After more than a year of reflecting, meetings, analysis, gatherings, trials, teamwork, strategy development, comparisons, brainstorming … a lot of work that often takes time to shape into something defined, we are finally there and we are ‘on fire’.
What is emerging is an entity which is the multiplication of services from both companies, but not only that, it’s not only services but also ideas, methodologies, new proposals. They are spaces and places for events, they are contacts with companies, with receptive agencies, hotels, venues and with other companies in active tourism.
Two companies once seen as competitors in this sector are now working together. We have created a work dynamic that shapes us as a human group pulling in the same direction, looking for new experiences and activities for companies in a growing MICE tourism sector in the Basque Country.
As two companies coming together, having validated each other’s work, we recognise that by combining our resources and possibilities we will reach places previously impossible to get to. Moving on from seeing ourselves say ‘not possible’ to being empowered to say ‘Yes (Bai)’. We achieve the positive factor needed by the sector and take on the challenge of working to reach it, to put a ‘yes’, a ‘BAI’, as part of our dynamic and in our projects.
And speaking of challenges, these are the ones we set out to deal with as a new entity and using the same words, how we present ourselves to the pubic.
Provide an Active Tourism product related to culture and Basque sports, aimed at the MICE segment, with a referential trademark.
Place the MICE product offered by Basque Country’s very own businesses at the forefront of potential companies that come to carry out activities in the region; offer local people to show the best from here.
Create a line of important collaboration to best position the MICE products with collaborators, products and local services. We also think about the entire sector and its wider context.
Create a working team centred on market research and innovation that permits us to develop new activities aimed at the MICE segment.
Initiate tools for the marketing plan designed during the analysis phase (brand, web, social networks, catalogues, etc.). Together, be able to get to places where alone was previously impossible.
All of this from an area of active tourism and nature tourism, which in the end forms the backbone of our proposals and dynamics.
An adventure that counts on the support of institutions like the Diputacion Foral de Bizkaia (the Bizkaia County Council) through the Elkarlanean programme, that serves to set deadlines, design the dynamic and strategy. Support that is also perceived from other public institutions and private companies that day after day encourages us to continue adding, to continue multiplying.
This is also good news for activities offered for companies in Bilbao, Gasteiz, Donostia, Urdaibai, Lea, Artibai, Uribe, Getxo, Enkarterri, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, Araba, Rioja, Alaves, in a nutshell, all the destinations in the Basque region.
It provides good opportunities as well for collaboration for the multiple spectacular places that exist in our country and that can offer accommodation to these types of events, meeting centres, museums, hotels, restaurants, local landmarks, wine cellars, cider estates, Txakoli wine cellars and all those that we slowly want to begin working with and building attractive proposals for MICE tourism, interesting for all of us.
Finally, we’d like to give thanks that to all our staff, from both companies, for the effort they are putting into the development of this initiative. And to the directive teams in facilitating in the collaboration, honestly, this makes things much easier.
We continue working and are sure we will meet each other on the way, BAI noski! (Of course!)
Izarza is not just a restaurant. On one hand it provides excellent gastronomical packages for business events, starting from traditional Basque cuisine to menus that can be adapted to each individual client’s taste. On the other hand, it offers modern facilities with wireless internet connection, a conference hall and meeting rooms all equipped with computers and 72” touch screens.
Not only that, companies can select, should they prefer, from an array of dining halls and private meeting rooms each serviced with their own waiters, telephones and internet access. These spaces have a maximum capacity of 100 people; all helping to create a personalised and exclusive atmosphere.
Last but not least, Restaurant Izara offers a landscaped garden of more than 5,000 square metres that affords attendees, as well as the organisation, a wide-open space perfect for gatherings of business events like our Herri Kirolak or rural sports exhibition or other varied team-building activities.