Another weekend, another visit …I can’t complain about feeling lonely here any more! I’ve loved having visitors over the past fortnight …hint hint everyone!
I won’t complain about easyJet as I’m so grateful that a budget airline flies to and from Bilbao, but my parents say they were very glad to eventually arrive in Spain on Friday after an awful and very delayed flight, although they were welcomed by agitated waving from me as I ran ahead to stop our connecting bus from leaving without us. They wanted to experience the real Spain, so I took them back to Logro on the coach!
They arrived in Logroño fairly shattered after their stressful journey, but – no rest for the wicked – after checking them into their hotel (reasonable and very plush, I recommend it: Husa) and giving them a quick tour of mi casa, we headed straight out for a night on the town!
I dedicate (probably TOO) much of this blog to complaining about aspects of Spanish culture that are none too pleasing to me. However, one of the things I do really like is that nights out are not restricted to the under 30’s. No, nobody takes their grandparents to the discoteca, but on an average bar crawl you come across as many elderly people as teenagers, if not more! It’s not intimidating although it is busy; people get no more than merry thanks to the little bits (pinchos/ pinches) of food you buy alongside your drink at each bar.
Going out for pinchos is northern Spain’s answer to eating tapas. In fact, I’m not sure if tapas exisits in the same way as it does in England anywhere in Spain, just like noone eats chicken tikka masala in India! The idea is that you wonder from bar to bar drinking small measures of wine and eating small portions of food at each until you are full and/or sleepy! It’s really cheap; a round of three drinks and pinchos typically costs between five and ten Euros – you’d pay more than that just for the drinks in the UK! Some bars serve several dishes whereas some of the more traditional ones serve only one dish which they have perfected over the years and are “famed” (only within Logroño) for. Here’s a photo of my Dad and I in one such bar:
It sells mushrooms which have been fried in garlic and salt, stacked with prawns on a piece of bread – delicious!
My parents enjoyed “The pinchos experience” so much we went for round two on Saturday night. However, they also said they might have felt intimidated if they had come across it if they were on their own because there are so many people and they don’t speak any Spanish – clearly they were impressed by my brilliant food ordering abilities!
These guys wander round making music most weekends. The bars give them free drinks and food for entertaining everyone …maybe I’ll try join!
On Saturday we went to Laguardia, which you might recognise from an earlier post. My Dad is a huge fan of all things incredibly old, so I couldn’t let him get so close to a medieval town without visiting it!
After a nosy round the church we went on a tour of a winery and wine tasting session (bit of a conflict there!?). The bodega, San Pedro, is one of the oldest in Spain so it was a very different experience to my last tour of a much more modern winery. It was freally hands-on; we were shown down into the cellars underneath the town and got to look in the great vats.
Wouldn’t it be awful to fall in…
It’s traditional to drink a glass of wine straight from the vat when you visit a bodega, which is a bit of a strange tradition because bottling wine improves it! Thankfully, we were also given the properly bottled and aged wines to try …in large quantities which the owner insisted we finish!
We then stumbled upon what was clearly a favourite cafe of the locals but the food was beautiful and we were given a really warm welcome… in fact, we were given the bottle of wine for the price of the three glasses we’d asked for! We didn’t need it, but how could we refuse!
After lunch, we (merrily!) went for a walk around the town to take in the beautiful views, but were eventually beaten by the awful weather and hid in a cafe to wait for the bus back to Logroño!
On Sunday we accidentally interrupted a choir rehearsal in the cathedral, went to a Gaudi exhibition (particularly interesting for M+D as they recently went to Barcelona) and posed with the pilgrims (a major pilgrim trail, El Camino de Santiago, passes through Logroño) before Mum and Dad had to head back to Bilbao to catch what was to be another delayed flight.
My parents seem to genuinely like Logroño. I suppose there are huge differences in living somewhere and just visiting it, but I’m starting to recognise that whilst the city is not that aesthetically pleasing – for the most part it’s 7 storey concrete buildings built around the 1960s – there are some pretty bits, and besides that it does have a busy, friendly vibe. Most importantly, I think my Spanish is improving and I’m feeling much happier and more confident using it.
I don’t know about my parents, but I’m shattered! Compared to the last two, this weekend is going to feel very quiet!