IN his latest diary from the open sea, Argus reporter John Phillips visits the Basque country and gets a glimpse of the history of a village immortalised in a painting by Pablo Picasso.

OUR voyage resumed on Monday as we steadily headed east towards the French border on board the Brokoa.

We sailed all day, from Mundaka to Hondarribia, on the border with France. I listened to stories from crew members who worked in the maritime industries building ships and catching fish in the Basque region.

These guys have travelled the world. One told me he once brought back a small monkey from Africa.

Another took part in an archaeological dig of an old ship in Labrador. In the evening, we enjoy a Basque gastronomic dinner, sampling a tuna salad followed by one of the biggest plates of langoustines we have seen in our lives. We finish the meal eating sheep’s milk cheese, cracking walnuts and wash it down with wine and Basque cider.

The previous day we had taken a trip inland to Guernica, where we visited a peace museum recognised by Unesco.

We entered a Basque living room filled with props from the 1930s at the time of the German and Italian bombing of 1937.

A transparent panel divides the room showing an unsettling reflection of the visitors.

I wonder what it is all about but as the lights get dimmed and the sound of the grandfather clock is drowned by the raid we witness the aftermath of the bombing thought to have killed hundreds of civilians.

Being in the room and seeing our reflection, it suddenly dawns on me any innocent person in the world could have been hit by the bombing immortalised by the Pablo Picasso painting.

We then go through arresting exhibition rooms with a transparent glass floor showing rubble underneath our feet. I’m tip-toeing over the memories of the dead, forced to relive the horrific suffering of the people of Guernica.

● The last leg of the voyage will take us to Saint-Jean-de- Luz in south west France.