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Bea Meitiner: A Brit who grew up in the Basque Country

March 13, 2024

Hi and welcome to my page! My name is Bea, one of the Typically Non Spanish team, and depending on where I am in the world I will claim to be either British or Spanish! Why? Because I am a bit of both (at least in spirit!).

My British parents moved to the Basque Country, in Northern Spain when I was merely a couple of months old. I lived in the Basque Country until I was 17 years old, at which point I decided to explore the world myself, moving first to Ireland, then Wales, and eventually settling in England for 15 years. But now, at the merry age of 38, I am back to using Spain as my base while I travel the world.

My parents separated when I was young, which meant I ended up with the best of both worlds growing up. My dad lived by sea, in Plentzia, while my mum moved into an old “caserio” (farmhouse) and settled in the mountains of Alava. I moved between the two houses weekly, soaking in the slow pace of life that both of those areas enjoyed.

It’s not all sunshine

Whenever I tell people that I grew up in Spain, they ask me whether I miss the weather. Everyone thinks of Spain as warm and sunny, but there is a reason the Basque Country is the greenest region in Spain! Because it rains a lot! Despite the rain though, the summers tend to be warm and long which is definitely something that can’t be said for the UK!

Growing up in Spain

I am incredibly grateful for having grown up in Spain. Not only does it mean I am trilingual (English, Spanish, and Basque!), but I grew up without the pressures of after-school clubs and busy schedules. As kids, we were given the freedom to roam and explore without concern that we would end up in serious trouble. There were only two rules: do your homework first and make sure you are home before it’s dark. And I very much think this is still the case outside of the cities.


There is no doubt that Spanish cuisine is phenomenal, and the food in the Basque Country is exceptional. Hearty, fresh, and local. The focus is always on seasonal produce that has been grown locally, and because the weather is much colder than in the South, the food is also much heartier with stews being a prominent feature.

We also do tapas differently up north. Although tapas do exist, we mainly enjoy “pintxos”, which are small snacks prepared and served on a piece of bread. San Sebastian is the place to go to experience the ultimate pintxos. Every bar counter is covered in delectable works of culinary art.

However, the Basque Country does also have some more obscure meal choices, and as a kid these were some of my favourites! After school it is customary to have a snack, or what we would call “merienda”. This was always a baguette filled with either meat, cheese, or something sweet. And when I say something sweet, there were two main choices:

A bocadillo de Manteca y azucar: a baguette filled with margarine and sugar (!) or a “bocadillo the chocolate”. A baguette filled with chocolate. I don’t mean spreadable chocolate though. I mean an actual bar of chocolate! Don’t knock it until you try it though, it worked great!

Back in Spain after 20 years

As I mentioned above, I lived in Spain until I was 17, but then moved away for university and ended up settling in the UK. However, I miss the slower pace of life, the focus on good quality food, and my family, who still live there. So at the ripe age of 38, I am coming home! I will be based in the Basque Country once more, nestled amongst green fields, large pine forests, and towering mountains. I will continue to explore the world, but my home will be where my heart has always been: in Spain.

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