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!
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.
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!)
The MICE sector seems to grow year after year. We, as the companies committed to this niche market try to develop proposals that, while being original, serve to complete the objectives established in each one of the events that we organise or take part in.
On the other hand, our clients look for experiences, unique and unparalleled sensations. This means that, as providers of this type of experience, we must always be one step ahead, thinking, developing and giving form to new proposals adapted to the taste and needs of each client.
The ‘Basque trilogy’, is in part, outcome of this effort and in part, the result of the passion we feel for our tradition and culture. On many occasions looking back is eye opening and the outcomes always equally unexpected and surprising.
This is how the proposal came into existence; consisting of three different experiences that are rooted in the traditions of our ancestors and in the work and labour that they carried out in the field and at sea.
With time and modernisation much of the processes were discontinued. Some fell by the wayside, others have lasted until now and become challenges initiated amongst ’baserritarras’ or farmers, on many occasions, be means of betting. Cutting logs with axes, dragging and lifting weights, collecting corn cobs, tilling a field or rowing a ’trainera’or fishing boat tasks; no longer associated with farmers and fishermen. Now, they have been converted into expressions of a culture and a tradition reflected in the different forms of Basque rural sports or Herri Kirolak as they are known in the Basque Country.
From here on, at Troka Abentura, we have managed to give form to the proposals that bring participants closer to our culture and at the same time puts them in the shoes of a ‘baserritarra’(farmer) or a rower from long ago.
The first experience to which we titled Herri Kirolak Exhibición is exactly about that, an exhibition of the most representative types of Basque Rural Sports, stone lifting, wood chopping, Basque pelota (handball), cesta punta (basket tip pelota) amongst others. For this purpose and led by professional sportspersons; the participants discover the origins of the different sports disciplines, their principal characteristics and particularities so that later on they can be witnesses to a live demonstration of a few of them.
The second proposal of this trilogy we have called ‘Herri Kirolak Participation’. It’s an experience based on the work carried out by baserritarras (farmers) in the fields consisting of different challenges whereby participants must compete in teams to see who can get the most points. Hay bale lifting, weight or stone dragging, tug-of-war or the cob gathering race are some of the challenges that we propose in this activity. An experience that tests the muscles, intelligence and coordination of each team.
The third activity that we propose, and not less interesting, is named Traineras (rowers) and will submerge the participants in the waters of the Cantabrian sea. Once converted into rowers they need to follow the orders of the skipper (an experienced rower) and all row a fishing boat to follow a marked-out course in the least possible time. Team work, coordination, collaboration and effort always carried out in a fun way.
We adapt to your needs
In Troka Abentura we contemplate these experiences not as monolithic and closed activities. We aim for our proposals can be adapted to the needs and objectives of those agencies and organisations that put their trust in us.
For example, there are agencies that want to combine the three activities into one or simply only two of them. We also have requests from companies or agencies that prefer not to commute to our activity base and prefer that we move the chosen activity to another location. Provided it is possible, at Troka Abentura we will do it.
Ask us for information and step into our culture in a fun and original way!
The MICE industry is growing. More and more national and international companies and agencies wish to organise company events.
For events agencies, innovation and originality are key, in order to offer different activities and experiences to their clients. Organisations, as well as people that will participate to the events, should end up satisfied and planned targets should be met.
Here at Troka Abentura, we’ve dedicated ourselves to active adventure tourism for 20 years, working with a large scope of clients. We’ve gained a wide experience of the MICE industry, and many agencies trust our professionalism one year after another to organise a company event full of experiences and emotions.
Original company experiences in natural environments
We create original company experiences in natural environments. Our activity platform is located in an exceptional environment. It benefits from more than 2000 square metres of outdoor space, next to the Gorliz and Plentzia beach, 25 kilometres away from Bilbao.
On top of that, we love our culture and traditions and think that they can inspire a lot of fun, exciting and original propositions, connected to our history, which brings extra value to each experience.
One of our innovative proposals is named ‘the Basque trilogy’. It consists in three experiences, deeply rooted into our culture, which are acclaimed by the agencies and companies with which we usually collaborate.
The first of them is called ‘Herri Kirolak Exhibition’. This experience offers the discovery of the main rural sports performed in the Basque Country. During them, professional athletes will explain the origin of those sports, the equipment used and the main characteristics, ending by an exhibition.
This way, participants will be able to discover sports such as stone raising, wood chopping, pelota mano, pala, or cesta punta.
The second experience from the ‘Basque trilogy’ is called ‘Basque Rural Sports Participation’. This fun and dynamic activity, just like the first one, is intimately connected to the traditions from Basque Country. In it, we have adapted and converted in challenges different Basque rural sports. This activity is ideal for groups which want to work on group dynamics, team building and leadership.
During Basque Rural Sports Participation, the different teams will compete to obtain more points by playing different Basque rural sports. Soka tira (tug-of-war), raising a straw bale, ‘stone’ dragging, or corn-cob race are among the different challenges that participants will have to overcome.
Last, but not least, the third experience from the ‘Basque trilogy’ is the ‘Traineras’ (row boats) activity. Traineras are typical row boats from the Cantabrian coast, that used to be for fishing but are now involved into regattas.
This is for sure one of our most popular activities, very connected to the Basque tradition and culture. Various teams, various row boats, people serving as captain and participants experiencing by themselves how it feels to row in a trainera. They will traverse places such as Plentzia, Barrika, Getxo, Bilbao … competing against each other. A great experience based on team work.
This Basque trilogy can’t be complete without the possibility to enjoy some pintxos (Basque tapas) as well as wine and txakoli (Basque white wine), which are an essential part of the Basque gastronomy.
Original company experiences in urban environments
Troka Abentura designs original company experiences in urban environments as well. Traditions and technology go hand in hand on these, combining in the same activity culture, history and technology.
Discovery, a destination through the iPad is an activity for companies designed to take place in an urban environment, enabling us to discover the culture, history, gastronomy and particularities of cities such as Bilbao, San Sebastian or Vitoria.
Through challenges, questions and riddles, the different teams will get to know the experienced destination. The whole activity is moderated thanks to an iPad, carried by each team.
With the Ginkana Cuadrilla iPad, we discover how it feels to be a Basque ‘cuadrilla’ (typical large group of friends) in the streets of Bilbao, San Sebastian, Vitoria or any other Basque city, while learning about the culture and traditions of the place through fun challenges.
Each group will take with itself an iPad and a basket with diverse goods, which will help to overcome the challenges. This very fun team-building experience is adaptable to any environment.
When organising an event, it is important to count with ideas, activities and experiences we can use to build the event that the company is looking for. We need to adapt the offer to this specific project, looking for customisation and exclusivity. That’s why more propositions to build events are available in our MICE section. If you wish to organise an original company event, please make sure to contact us. Tell us about your idea, and we’ll convert it into reality.
In 2019, Troka Abentura turns 20 years old as an active tourism and adventure company. 20 years learning and perfecting our activities and experiences, with the objective to offer companies and agencies a wide panel of interesting and thrilling MICE possibilities, always with adrenaline and fun.
Yesterday seems to be the day when two adventure sports lovers made their dream a reality. On the 1st of July, 1999, Troka Abentura was born, as a company dedicated to Active Tourism and Adventure Sports.
For two decades, we have grown and adapted to the market. At the beginning, we mostly worked with schools, offering summer stays, study trips and various multi-adventure programs. We soon diversified our offer and proposed it to groups, families and organisations. During those years, many people trusted us and shared moments full of illusions, adventure, diversion and adrenaline.
Wanting to keep innovating and because we were asked by various clients, we started with corporate events. Soon the MICE market showed as a major activity for Troka Abentura. Now, we create experiences and activities for companies, meetings and events. We work hand in hand with Incoming Agencies, with Conferences Organisers, with Marketing companies, directly with companies… We develop team building dynamics, Incentives and Corporate Social Responsibility actions, being able to adapt our offer to the different needs from our clients.
Nearly 20 years of experience place us as a referent business in the Basque Country for the MICE market and adventure and active tourism. Troka Abentura is a guarantee for professionalism and a sure bet for making your corporate event a success.
The Berroja Winery elaborates txakoli, a typical Basque white wine, in the heart of the Urdaibai Nature Reserve, near cities such has Durango, Gernika, Lekeitio and Bilbao. The Urdaibai Nature Reserve is an incredibly beautiful natural space, declared Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 1984.
The winery’s modern settings offer an adequate space for the celebration of corporate events. A modular room, adapting to the number of participants and type of event, WIFI, projector and media equipment easing the organisation of talks, presentations and workshops and a modern kitchen with a big grill stand out among the available equipment.
The vineyard and around is the perfect space to organise company activities, such as games and challenges.
Have a look at this video from one of the corporate events organised at the Berroja Winery to get a clear idea.