Basking in Bilbao: pintxos paradise

Sorry, but we did bask – Basque? – in the sunshine for a few glorious days. Bilbao locals amazed that we saw the mysterious yellow orb as it is known for near horizontal blatter that would make a wet Swansea weekend look welcoming. Twice as rainy as London for instance. Sunglasses set to smug then.

Top Tip: Book early, during a flight sale, off season. After bagging embarrassingly cheap SqueezyJet seats – IE: the car parking was more costly than 2 X return flights (but that’s Brizzle airport for you) – and a no frills hotel we were good to go. We even drafted in GT to look after bairns in our absence.

Top tip #1. DO NOT – under any circumstances – Google “Bilbao Airport Crosswinds” if you are a nervous flyer before traveling. Why? Oh, no reason…

Top Tip #2. A3247 Aeropuerto bus! Get in. €3, drops you outside the front door of your budget hotel (closer than a taxi could park). Deliriously happy about this. #itsthelittlethings

Top Tip #3. Visit the Guggenheim, get there on a pre-booked ticket as it opens its doors. It is totally worth the hype. There are probably pictures aplenty below to prove it.

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Top Tip #4. Strategically place an auld work colleague as an ex-pat there at least 10 years prior to randomly visiting. Most wonderful to see J and also to get his insider knowledge over many iccle beers on Friday night.

EG: Did you know there’s no letter C in Basque? They use TX instead. So we say “peen-chos” where it’s written pintxos.

Top Tip #5. Pintxos.

Top Tip #6. Actually, can this go before 5? Be aware I don’t mean this in anything other than a straight, functional, practical sense. Ready? If you are a fussy eater, don’t bother with Bilbao. If you are a fussy drinker, ditto. Even if you were fluent in Basque, you’d struggle. Sure, there are vegan/gluten-free/ joints and whatnot, but the essence of a superb social Bilbao night out is bar hopping with a cheerful “Rioja por favor y dos pintxos por favor” whilst gesturing at the dazzling selection of snacks on the bar. In return for this elan? You get great wine and delicious finger food.

That last sentence? That’s an evening in Bilbao. There’s so much competition between bars that they survive by offering bloody excellent local wine – cheaply, by the glass – or good beer, good cava. A G&T is not only costly, it’s missing the point. Pair your random beverage with their own twist on what makes for a gourmet mouthful. The opportunist visitor can flow around the town nibbling and quaffing like a pro. Like a rolling perfect street food/wine festival. Sitting down to dinner seems superfluous.

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Top Tip #7 Sunday late morning wine and cheesecake? Txakoli. “Chaco-lee.” Perfect hair of the dog material.

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Tip Top Tip Top of  the Tips: Take the most beautiful person you know with you and reconnect.

Oh and in Basque there’s no A in Bilbo

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Next time… The Transporter Bridge!

 

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