“Otra noche con mis chicas fabulosas”. My French friend from our whatsapp group wrote. (How I love to spend time with my girl).
French girl: Do you like sushi girls?
Jordanian girl: Only cooked sushi.
Spanish girl: I love it. I will bring a bottle of Spanish red wine.
I was in a hurry when I left home and I took a bottle of red wine from my small winery. We were laughing and feeling happy and blessed. When I opened the bottle, I realised that the lucky wine chosen for that moment was “Ramon Bilbao”. At that moment my memories of my Bilbao trip came to me.
I was invited to visit the Basque country in Spain; my flight was from Dubai to Bilbao. It is a yearly event happening in the Basque Country organised from six suppliers from the Middle East. http://www.basquelivingevents.com/me/
Who could have imagined that I would visit the Basque Country in the north of Spain bordering with France that too from Dubai. You never know!
A group of 15 people (architects, interior designers and engineers), were taking off from different parts of Middle East. We didn’t know each other; we just got a Spanish contact that would pick up seven of us at the Bilbao airport.
My Jordanian and French girls dropped me at the Dubai airport. It was very nice to hug them and say; see you in a week! I felt taking them with me instead of my baggage.
It was a night flight and I couldn’t sleep over, like always. I landed in Spain after a long journey. A Spanish old man carried a poster, that said; “HABIC”, that was the meeting point. One by one we arrived there and the trip started. The group: a Serbia girl, a Mauritius boy, a Greek boy, a Swedish girl, a Filipino boy, an Indian girl and of course the Spanish girl (Me).
The green roads and the grey sky surrounded us from the airport to the hotel. We were in the Basque Country, and as usual it started to rain.
We arrived at Barceló Bilbao Hotel and we ran before the reception desk asking for ours rooms. Sorry, but the check-in is at 2pm. A man with Spanish accent said. It was 11.30am. What to do until 2pm? I don’t remember who, but I couldn’t forget that one of them said; let’s have lunch!
Yeah, Sunday at 11.30am in Spain you could have as much breakfast as you wanted if you are lucky; I was thinking. At the same time the manager said: sorry, but we are still serving the breakfast. We could server the lunch for you at 1pm at the earliest.
I look at the group and said: Welcome to Spain!
We sat down around the table in the cafeteria and we had a nice coffee with and started to know each other. One of the boys took the first room being a Muslim as well it was Ramadan. (what a pity to be in Spain in Ramadan). When he left I said to the rest of the group: we will be 5 days in Spain and we will put on 3 or 5 kg. All of then look at me and without say anything they called me “crazy”.
We sat around a round table for lunch at 1pm. We took a look at the menu and of course we started with the wine. Welcome to Spain!
Just we sat down a sexy, handsome, irresstible Lebanese boy joins us and 5 minutes later a couple from South Africa. We were around the table, and already 10 in the group.
We enjoyed the Spanish food and wines. I had three glasses of red wine and tried the white one. But the funniest thing was the South African boy who had two glasses of red wine and 2 beers. Beer with red wine?! Well, if you tell me beer with white wine, I could understand it. Wait! When I said beer and red wine I mean at the same time. Red wine/beer/red wine/beer….maybe the last red one…I don’t remember.
The architectural tour was at 5.15pm, and we decided to leave to baggage in the room and to visit the museum after lunch and before the tour. Rest? For what?
My room was 103. I left mine belongs, wash my face and brush my tooth. Oops! The sink was full of water. I called reception and they changed my room. It was easy when I realized that I was in Spain talking Spanish.
We left the hotel for the museum. Just a few meters distance, but enough time to get wet. The rain started again. It was funny after the blazing heat in Dubai. We love it!
Honestly speaking I didn’t like the GUGGENHEIM museum. The peculiar architecture of the building talks about how the imperfection could be perfection and how to create a mistake in innovation. Nothing much to say about the inside of the building.
At 5pm I was trying to open my bag to get ready in 15 minutes. Oops! The key has broken! Yes, as you are reading. But, this time and for the first time in my travel life I had put in my hand bag everything necessary just in case something happens with your baggage.
Hand bag: full cosmetic bag, jeans, t-shirt, walking shoes, jacket, underwear.2 phones. Small laptop. App for the power connection. (I just missed the charger, in the hand bag and in the big bag as well).
No worry, I was in Spain and it was easy to speak with reception. I told them to break the padlock and they did it.
About the architectural tour I don’t remember too much as I was cold, hungry, sleepy, tired and wet. It was the worst combination ever. A windy & rainy evening (and 16 degrees in June).
At 8.15pm we returned to the hotel, with just 15 minutes to get ready to be on time for the full event presentation. I don’t know how I did it, but trust me that I took a fast shower, dressed up, did make up and dried my hair that was still wet thanks to the rain. Perfect, I was in the conference room at 8.33pm.
The five missing people joined us later. An Omani girl, a Palestinian boy, a Jordanian girl, a Lebanese boy and an Indian boy.
Maybe if you know that after a long journey (35 hours), you just have to be in a presentation and have an amazing dinner in Spain. Worth it!
Look at the menu…..Welcome to Spain!
The smartest conversation after “a couple” glasses of wine was to speak about the rooms and sketch them. My question was: how many and where sprinklers there are in yours rooms? They looked at my and one of them said: seriously, are you asking for sprinklers in the room? Well, you can not imagine how many problems I have had with a fire consultant and the PM with the sprinklers in a project, and now I have an obsession about them. I can see sprinkler in my dreams. I said. ( there was just one on the wall between the TV and the window).
Bedtime, but no before to checking all the emails from work. I fell asleep like a well fed baby.
The phone rang at 7am. Time to get up. Thank God I slept well 6 hours. As I was getting ready I spoke with my colleague from Dubai office. Then I jumped for the buffet breakfast. (you just look at the photos, you just could feel the taste as if you have been in Spain).
We jumped in the bus to visit the first supplier’s company, SELLEX. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. When we reached the factory there was a table ready for us, with coffee, tea and cookies. Yes, coffee!!! At that moment my eyes opened wide as an owl. But a voice said: after the presentation we will go through the factory and at the end we will have coffee and typical cookies of this area. At the end?! No way! And my open eyes suddenly closed in the middle of the presentation. We were sitting in “u”, we saw the faces of each other easily. My eyes closed and my head fell down as in my university years on Monday or Friday morning in a theory class. ( I was not the only person who closed the eyes, the guy who was talking said: just a few heads fell down, I am happy that was not the only one). I smiled; I am human, that was normal.
Coffee time! I had 2 coffees and 3 cookies. I didn’t really need the cookies, but if we have to put on 3 or 5kg in 5 days the cookies count. And we jumped into the bus again.
In the next visit, TESA. I was a bit active and instead of coffee I have a cappuccino and of course more cookies.
Lunch time! They took us to a village bordering France a lovely place in a hill and the sea. It was a sunny, brightly day; a colourful day. The restaurant was in an amazing place underground.
After a huge amount of food and wine we took a catamaran and cross to France. It was the first time that I heard about Hondarribia and all battles between France & Spain. It is very interesting.
We enjoyed sailing between French and Spanish waters, surrounded of the blue sky, the green mountains and the turquoise sea.
After the trip when walked around the stone streets of Hondarribia and when we were within 15 miters of the cathedral, we decided to stop at a typical bar in a stone square. I had a typical white wine of that area, Txakoli. When we left the bar the cathedral was closed. Welcome to Spain! (first the wine and then the cathedral in an Architectural tour).
We jumped in the direction of the bus for the Hotel in San Sebastian when we would be 3 nights.
Astoria 7 was the cozy hotel when we spent our days in San Sebastian. At the check-in they gave us a complimentary welcome wine. Yes, as you are reading. More wine….welcome to Spain!
While waiting for the lift to reach my room, one of the suppliers told me: Marisol, I would like to introduce you to the President of the company where I am working. He will be here in a while, but He can’t stay for dinner. Don’t take so long to get ready. Could you make it in 30 minutes?. Come to the wine bar. I smiled and said. Of course, I will be back in 30 minutes. Well, at least that day I got 30 minutes to get ready instead of the 15 minutes of the day before.
After a glass of red wine (always Rioja), we all had dinner. Again, please, look at the menu.
The interesting thing about that menu was the dessert. After the dinner we talked about live & Business in Dubai. And of course we didn’t get to bed before midnight and the phone rang at 7.30am in the morning again.
I had decided don’t eat too much for breakfast, but it was impossible. Welcome to Spain!
I like to break the fast with fruit. The fruits were as tasty as in my father’s farm. (My father has a small farm when we grow vegetables and fruits that we enjoy in summer, and of course the best orange in the world; Clemenules). Then bread with grated tomato with olive oil with Jamon Serrano or Salmon, plus eggs (when I am traveling). And who can’t eat cheese and all homemade cakes if they look at you ready to be eaten. And of course natural orange juice and good coffee.
The 3rd day we visited the Tabakalera Cultural Building, when assisted at the presentation of IMAR and LANIK.
When do you think we had lunch this time? At the Basque Culinary Center? No, exactly. We went there to see the building, the façade, the installations and all the classrooms where the best chef in Spain had study. Unfortunately the year’s course was over and just a few people were there studying summer courses.
We couldn’t tasty meals cooked by the students, but we had enough time to have a glass of red one (or beer or coffee as you wished). Of course I had a glass of red one.
Then we had lunch in another amazing building before visiting the Anoeta Football Stadium.
We walked from the hotel to the restaurant, at Ni Neu, when we had an amazing dinner. After the dinner the bus was waiting to drop us at the hotel, but just few people took it. The rest of the group when to have a gin tonic. Do you know that gin tonic is one o the specialties of that area?. Now, you know it. And trust me, you will enjoy it, price apart the price the gin is 3 times more than in Dubai per glass. Trust me!
4th day and Wednesday. It was time to visit PRODEMA and after a presentation and a walk around the factory, of course we when to have lunch. This time the restaurant was on the beach, but before to sitting around the table we walked around the village, Getaira. Well…half of the group stopped in a bar to have a drink. That time it was a glass of white wine.
We arrived at the hotel at 6pm and rested until 8pm. Thank God, we rested for 2 hours the longest rest in all the entire trip (apart from the sleep time, that was around 6 hours).
We enjoyed the sunset before sitting around the table at Bokado restaurant to have another delicious dinner in San Sebastian. (We arrived at the restaurant by train).
A Serbian girl and I went to dance after the dinner. We went to a not very cool place to dance Latin dance. You now, when you dance you want to dance when you are travelling. What a pity that it was not tango dance in that place and I couldn’t dance.
The 5th day and the last. PARKLEX, was the company who invited me to that trip and finally I visited them. Also it was a nice presentation of the company and a nice tour around the installations.
But, I can’t forget to speak about the lunch at Lenkonea restaurant and of course the walk around the rustic village when we had a glass of wine before the lunch.
The baggage in the bus, we left for Bilbao for dinner and to go to the hotel to rest a few hours before the flights. But, we changed the plan or better to say that the most of the group decided to stay in San Sebastian and after diner take the bus from San Sebastian to Bilbao. The hotel was close to the airport. The bus picked us at 10 o’clock.
Suddenly it rained, but we were close to a bar, the same bar of the large gin tonics night. Perfect place to the perfect time. The funny thing was that we separated in 4 groups, but in the middle of the rains we joined in that bar. You see, we don’t need a whatsapp to know were we could be, at least to try logic or luck.
I was responsible to get everyone in the bus on time being the only Spanish speaker. It was a hard work, first of all because I had to push myself to leave that amazing night. It was difficult, but I did it. We were at the bus at 10 o’clock not a minute before not a minute after. O’clock!
At midnight we were in our rooms and the receptionist called us at 5am to get up. Again, just 5 hours!
All of us were at the airport but we were taking different flights. Me to my hometown, Nules. Home sweet home.
It was a last minute decision and surprise. Bilbao is a 1 hour from Valencia, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to hug & kiss my family. My sister with my 2 lovely nieces were arriving that weekend too.
I sent a whatssap to my family from the Bilbao airport. Take off! But didn’t know it that I was flying home.
I rang the bell door. Who is there? Mami, open the door your oldest daughter Marisol is here. Surprise! and she couldn’t control the tears of happiness. And she told me: I knew it, I felt something in my heart yesterday.
Mummies, they always know everything!
Lovely less than 48 hours with them and very proud to do it. I will do it again and again.
Have I said already in some chapter that I have a lovely family and I love my family?