Hangin’ with the Spaniards

At noon the next day we headed down to the lobby of our hotel to see a smiling familiar face, Javier.  We had big hugs and I introduced Javier and Peter.  Unfortunately when Javier and Ainara had visited last summer Peter was out of town.

We jumped in Javiers new car and headed to Getxo, which is right outside of Bilbao.  Javier had recently purchased a new car due to his little girl on the way.  It was a nice drive full of lush green and rolling hills and only took about an hour.  We drove by Javier’s parents home, the same home he grew up in.  He and Ainara live close by which is of course nice with a grandchild on the way.

Javier and Ainara recently moved to a bigger flat.  Lucky for us because we had a great cozy room to stay in for our visit.

Peter and I instantly made new friends with their two little lively dogs, Benito and Harper.  Thinking about them, makes me miss those cuddle buddies.

That afternoon we spent the afternoon touring around Getxo, eating pintoxs, and catching up.













It was so great to catch up with Javier and also wonderful to have someone to guide us around.  Whenever we get to a new city we typically put a lot of research into where to go, what to see and how to get around.  I felt particularly happy for Peter because he is usually the one getting us around.  It was so nice to just follow Javier, let him show off his city and know we were in good hands.  We could shut our brains off and just enjoy.  Getxo is super easy to get around as you can walk just about everywhere.  At one point in the day we walked over to the Country Club where Javier’s Mom was hanging out by the pool.  It was fun to see her again and she remembered me from four years prior as “the girl with the huge backpack.” Peter and I agreed that she looks like a movie star.

That night Ainara joined us for dinner after she got off work.  She was in great spirits, has a major pregnancy glow, and as always was looking super fabulous.  When we finally met up Javier had taken us on quite a pub crawl so we hoped the txakoli in our system wasn’t too annoying to someone that had been at work all day and pregnant.

That night we FaceTime’d with Lauren and thanked her for the introduction four years ago.  Who would have thought that we would all be hanging out again in Spain? A lot has changed in a really, really good way.

The next morning was slow but we eventually set out to see the neighboring city of Bilbao.  But first we first made a quick visit to say hello to Javier’s Dad at his law office.  He has a Don Corleone mystique about him with his deep voice and calm demeanor (side-note: Peter and I just watched the Godfather I and II recently – how have we never seen these movies!).  I instantly liked him.

We had a great time taking in the sights of Bilbao.  It is a lively city with many outdoor cafes and crowded but walkable streets.  There are a number of art museums including the world famous museum of modern and contemporary art, The Guggenheim.  In front is Jeff Koons, “Puppy” which is a statue of a West Highland Terrier 43 feet tall.  It is made of soil, steel, and plants.  This great piece of art is literally still growing.  Puppy is meant to evoke optimism.  What do you think?

















After some more sight-seeing and a handful of pintxo’s we took the subway from Bilbao back to Getxo. That evening we met up with Carlos, Javier’s brother, for dinner at a great local-spot called Cafe Paris.  I had also met Carlos four years ago when we all hung out in Ibiza.  Once you become friends with this family, you stay friends.  Carlos was his usual character self, making us all laugh with his self-deprecating and witty humor.  We enjoyed a wonderful meal and great conversation.  Carlos said he would be sure to come visit us in California.

The next day we were heading out to a country neither one of us had been to yet, Portugal.  We were both very excited as we had heard so any great things about Portugal.

At the airport, it was a bit of a mess. First, we were flying EasyJet Airways which is one of Europe’s low-cost carrier flights. Typically these airlines have great rates but charge a lot for luggage (by the kilo). As we’re traveling for a year, our bags are rather full. After waiting in the huge line to check-in, the agent told Peter that he needed to go down three floors to pay for excess luggage. After 20 minutes of searching three floors down it turned out the excess-luggage line was about 15 feet away from the check-in counter. The excitement continued. When we went through security, Peter was escorted with his bag into a private room by a uniformed officer. Unfortunately, I have watched too many episodes of National Geographic’s “Locked up Abroad” so there was an unnerving feeling. A slow five minutes or so later Peter came out and said that a wine-opener was the cause for concern which somehow triggered a full search of his carry-on. All good minus losing the wine-opener.

Up Next Lisboa!

Muchas Gracias amigos Ainara and Javier!


  • That puppy is pretty amazing! Love seeing the artwork. For me I think it evoked shock then I thought of Godzilla. ha. But the colors and medium are definitely positive!

  • Shastin, “puppy” did actually make me happy. Koons own words were that the piece should instill “confidence and security.” It was certianly fun to look at.