While there are many things to love about living in Oñati, I have always enjoyed the mornings most. It is not that the walks on the mountains or the amazing library at the IISL are not great things in which to spend the day. It is also not that Basque Country doesn’t have some great food for every meal. But, for me, the mornings represent some of my favorite aspects of living in Oñati: the peace, the small town community and the good food.
Though there are quite a few places to have your morning coffee in Oñati, and even some newer places that are quite nice, I still like to go to the corner where Zaharra Kalea and Anton Kalea meet. Probably because it is closer to the IISL, many of its visitors and students tend to go there. Of course a big plus of living in Oñati is walking everywhere and never even thinking about traffic. However, one comes back to this coffee shop because the coffee is good and the croissants are great! Since my days as student (2009-2010), the place has changed its administration, along with the name and some of its products, but it is remains a great place to start the morning and it still has some of the best coffee in town (in my humble non connoisseur opinion).
Aside from the tasty start of the day, I like the sense of community that you get in Oñati’s establishments. Even if I do miss seeing the previous owner behind the bar, I must say that the waiters there are always very nice and kind people; in that Basque sort of way that shows itself after a couple of visits if one talks with them a little. They tend to be very observant and learn the habits of people quite fast and, with the regular local customers, they tend to build a relationship based on a good sense of humor, discussing every day’s news and, of course, the weather. Oñati is such a tight knit community that regulars usually know each other quite well also. In the busy hours, people that comes through the door often greets more than one person there and through the interactions you get the sense of how the community of Oñati is built in the everyday interactions and exchanges.
A couple of years ago a friend of mine showed me the photo of his class planting one of the threes in the square right outside the coffee shop some twenty years go. Now, I like even more sitting near the window to see the three. This is also a reminder of how people build towns and community; and of how people in Oñati live their town and take care of it in the process, so it is indeed their town.