Trip Start May 14, 2008
14Trip End May 30, 2008
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Where I stayed
Anyway, here we are in Bilbao, Spain, in Basque Country. I didnīt really know what that meant until I got here....the Basques have their own flag and language, and there are no Spanish flags in sight!
Our journey here was pretty uneventful. Travelling in a squishy airplane seat is one of the very rare times when I appreciate being short. We landed at Heathrow, in London, half an hour late, but our bags were waiting for us by the time we got through Customs. We beetled it over to the Central Bus Station, a brisk 5 minute walk, where we caught the National Express bus to Stansted airport - a 75 minute drive away. Once there, we had an hour to wait before boarding our Easyjet flight to Bilbao
We spent our first day, yesterday, walking about a thousand miles (seriously, thatīs what it felt like! But itīs good practice for the upcoming hike on the Camino de Santiago which starts next Wednesday). Anyway, I digress. We walked to the business district to find the Tourist Information office, where we picked up some maps. Then we made our way to "Old Town Bilbao" which reminded me a lot of Venice - narrow streets lined with shops on the lower floor and living quarters above. We found the market where all the locals buy their fresh meat and produce daily, but we held back from splurging on cow tongue, the lining of a sheepīs stomach, pigīs feet and, believe it or not, entire pigīs heads! Yes, I took a picture to prove it. There was even a baby oinker in itsī entirety - I guess youīd buy that for a special occasion?
We had a bite to eat at a cafeteria/bar (where most people eat) and tried to down our food while inhaling our neighbouring dinerīs cigarette smoke
We then went for a ride on the funicular, which took us up to a park overlooking Bilbao. The Guggenheim looked so small from up there! It was a great view and worth the 1.70 round trip fare.
Nancy and Lynne arrived around 3:00 (they had spent the night in London, not being foolhardy enough to attempt to get all the way to Bilbao in one day) so we met them at our hotel and then we all walked over to the Guggenheim. What an interesting place! Thereīs a massive dog made entirely of begonias in front, created for a special festival and supposedly put there temporarily, but the Bilbonians (or whatever they call themselves) fell in love with their puppy so they decided to build it a kennel....and thatīs how we got the Guggenheim....or so the story goes....
Ya, so anyway....the Gug is a massive structure of titanium, metal and glass. We took some pictures, while holding the North Shore News (of course itīs the one with Connorīs picture on the front page!), and spent the next two hours exploring the exhibits
The 5th member of our pilgrim team, Sandi Heath, arrived around 6:00 so we wandered back to Old Town for dinner and managed to find a restaurant at 8:30 that was empty - only because it hadnīt opened yet! These Spaniards have a siesta from about 1:00-5:00 every day, and nearly everything closes. They only get going again around 9-10:00 at night! Fortunately for us, somebody banged on the door and we were allowed in, and we pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves for the entire time. It was fun practicing our Spanish with the hostess. And dad, you wonīt believe it, but I LIKED THE RED WINE! It was a bottle of 2003 Solar Viejo from the Rioja region of Spain. I wonder if itīs sold in Canada?
Jim couldnīt sleep last night - he insists itīs jet lag, but I wonder if it has anything to do with the coffee and chocolate profiteroles he consumed....
We said goodbye to Sandi, Nancy & Lynne this morning - theyīre spending the morning in Bilbao before going to San Sebastian for three days. Weīll meet up with them again in Leon in 4 daysī time
We headed back to Bilbao when the storm clouds were ready to burst, and I couldnīt help it - I fell asleep for part of the drive. Arenīt I BAD?!
Tomorrow we say goodbye to Bilbao and hit the road, following the northern coast to a place called Santillana Del Mar. Iīm not sure how many internet cafes weīll find, but Iīll do my best to update you as I can....Love to you all, Linda & Jim