3 days in Basque Country, Part III

24 Jul

Day 3: We started out for Bilbao at about 10 a.m. First stop – an old cafe where they had cool jazz art on the ceilings. Then, we walked through different quarters of the city and Ana, also having lived in Bilbao for years, narrated what we were seeing.

We meandered to the Guggenheim where there was lots of cool outdoor art. See pics below.

The first piece of art was a dog made of all flowers. It was darling.

Then, as we made our way to the back of the museum, we saw a large art piece of giant, shiny metal balls. Ana made Borja get in a picture with me.

Finally, as you walked away from the museum and along the Bilbao estuary, there was a giant spider underneath 1 of 2 cool bridges we saw that day.

We walked for about an hour more and then hopped in the car to drive along the coast. We stopped for lunch in a very cute beach town called Getxo. We decided on a restaurant on the beach in a hotel called Hotel Igeretxe and the restaurant name was Igeretxe Brasserie. They had a nice outdoor grill and specialized in seafood. I’m not sure why we opted for the meat instead, but it was very good. We got to grill it ourselves on a grill they brought to our table, so that was fun. And, they did a very nice tempura of vegetables. The desserts were “throw away” desserts and any 12 year old European could have made them better, so that was a disappointment. But, the conversation and company were awesome, as were the vistas.

After lunch, we took a walk along the beach and walked to the old part of town where the fishermen houses were. Here’s a pic of Ana and Borja on our way up to the “old town”.

After hearing about how the industry across the ocean ruined the water (if you look really closely in the background of the pic above you can see industrial machines on the other land side of the ocean) and weighing that against the how it brought greater wealth to Bilbao and greater GDP to Basque Country, we got back in the car and drove back over by the Bilbao estuary to where the Vizcaya Bridge was.

Here’s a pic of the Vizcaya Bridge from afar, which was completed in 1893 and declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2006.

Ana asked if I wanted to walk across it and of course I did. It was late afternoon and Borja was getting tired or maybe just tired of touring. He gave me the greatest, pissed off face which I managed to capture on camera. I love this pic as it pretty much sums up the day: Me taking pictures, Ana looking around at sights and thinking about what she knows to tell us, and Borja trying to be patient.

After spending 3 straight, 11 hour days together, the three of us had become comfortable enough to give each other these faces and I also started waiving my arms and hands around and talking at a much more rapid pace in Spanish. I told them I thought I was becoming Basque – ha! (Kidding for those of you who are Basque and would take offense at that).

At the very top of this post is a picture I took through the red metal while we were walking across the bridge. If you look at the land on the right side of the picture, that is a town called Portugalete. There’s a gondola attached by cables on the under side of the bridge and it carries both cars and passengers to Porgulalete. Since 1893, approximately 650 million people have crossed the estuary on the gondola. That distance is equivalent to 31 trips around the world. I sound like a tourist pamphlet, I know.

Here’s a view of Bilbao from the bridge:

And, here’s another view of the bride so you can see the construction (and Ana and me):

By the end of day 3, I was in love with Ana and Basque country. She and I are kindred spirits; she’s a free spirit, wants to see everything, and uses “me encanta” just as much as I do 😉 I am indeed enchanted with just about everything in Basque Country, including Borja’s family.

That night, Borja, his mom, Ana, and I met up with his older sister and her boyfriend in a placa in Vitoria for drinks. His sister gave me a box of chocolates from a famous chocolatier in Vitoria. Luckily, I remembered my manners and I had brought with me from Barcelona 3 bottles of wine: one for Ana, one for Borja’s mom, and one for his sister, along with some chocolates. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the wine I gave to his sister is going to live up to the expectations of her boyfriend, as he’s a wine importer. I’ll just have to cross my fingers that the guy who helped select the wines for me from the Ribera del Duero region did a good enough job.

Here’s a pic of my “haul” from Basque country:

Day 4: I headed for the train station to hop a train back to Barcelona. Tickets in hand, I decided to fuel up on some more pintxos before my 7 hour journey back (the direct, fast train was full, so instead of 5 hours, it took 7 and a connection in a seedy little town with seemingly more bars than people). After a few pintxos I strolled out to see what last minute jazz acts I could see before my train left. I walked by an Irish pub and watched/listened to a Spanish jazz ensemble playing there. Love it – at an Irish pub! Then, I walked a few more blocks to try to find this beautiful voice I heard belting out a sultry song. I finally spied a woman who I think was from the U.S. with a crazy ‘do belting out Peggy Lee’s famous song, “Fever”.

For those of you who don’t know who Peggy Lee is, and by rights I shouldn’t know as I’m way too young but I grew up in a music-loving family, she was a sexy singer from the 1940s and 50s. This song, I believe, is from 1948. Check out the clip of Peggy Lee rippin’ it up. Sexy lady, even by today’s standards! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4hXyALR9vI

If what a random poster on the web says is true, her credits include the voice of the Siamese cats in Disney’s production of Lady and the Tramp. It was so much fun to listen to and watch jazz musicians playing and singing jazz of all eras, while in Spain!

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