50 Shades of Brown

[15th-20th August 2012]

Yes. I was dying to use this joke as soon as I thought of it.

But that’s what 5 different swimsuits in 5 days will do to ya! Plus the time you left your iPhone on your tum for 15-20 min because you’re dumb.

Large rectangle tattoo – you know you want one

We had an amazing 6 days in Bilbao and San Sebastian, España.

We started out on the morning of the 15th and were settled in at Pension Iturrienea Ostatua(Tripadvised) and roaming the town by 2pm. Sarah found the #4 rated pintxos place in Bilbao (Irrintzi below) and then saw that it was located about 13 steps from us. So yeah. We had about 3 or 4 meals there. (we were in Bilbao for about 24 hours..) But remember! Most of the ‘meals’ we had while in Spain were just snack times. Delicious snack times. Post-Irrintzi, we wandered along the river and across Puente Zubizuri to the Guggenheim Museum. The Guggenheim was so so cool looking — I think I liked the <!–more–> outside better than the inside!

Puente Zubizuri and the Guggenheim behind us
Flower puppy at the Guhg
Guggenheim Bilbao!

We quickly learned that the Basque dialect and Spanish were not as similar as we’d thought, and our fledgling Spanish vocab would help us survive but probably not make us any friends. But now I need to figure out exactly what the Basque story is. On the list.

After Guggenheim, we made our way back to the room and got ready to go out for dinner and to be young people. We googled ‘where do the young people go’ just kidding we didn’t that would make us real oldies. We went to a bar or two and ended up making a list of our jointly travelled European countries, our singly travelled countries, and our to-be-travelled-to countries, which was kinda fun. I drew a Venn diagram.

We then woke up at ELEVEN (30?) the next ‘morning’. In other words, I think we adopted the Spanish lifestyle pretty quickly. We headed off to San Seb and basically alternated between eating and sleeping on the beach for the next 5 days. It was amazing. We stayed at Pension Amaiur (Tripadvised) and I would definitely highly recommend it. Virginia, who owns it, is so so sweet and helpful. We had a room with a balcony, which was amazing. We ended up there during Semana Santa, so it was pretty noisy a lot of the time, but it was nice and there was entertainment around the place and fireworks every night.

Hard to see but sooo nice. Mostly we used it to read/wait for each other/dry our swimsuits/watch the commotion going on in the streets during Semana Santa

I also have to credit Natalie for the idea for the post title. Natalie is a boy we saw on the beach. In actuality, his girlfriend’s name was Natalie — I have no idea what his name was. I felt inclined to call him Tom, but that was probably because of his shoes. Anyway. There were so many people on the first beach we went to that you ended up pretty close to someone or the other. Well I was lucky enough to end up near Natalie and Natalie, just as they got into a minor tiff about why Natalieboy wouldn’t go and get Nataliegirl a bottle of water (he needed to ‘read his book’ — note: ‘his book’ was 50 Shades of Gray. Sarah and I wanted to die laughing.) Their conversation included such gems as:
Nataliegirl: But you said you’d do anything for me!
Natalieboy: I meant big things! This isn’t a big thing!
Nataliegirl: But this IS a big thing! I NEED water.
Eventually, Natalieboy gave in, but just as he did, Nataliegirl pulled his arm to sit back down and said ‘well I don’t want you to go if you’re going to be mad at me. Are you going to be mad at me?’ And then she just decided to go herself. And then came back and lay facing opposite from Natalieboy. Eventually they started talking again – unfortunately it was rehashing the earlier argument. We just hoped it wasn’t their first or last day of vaca, but somewhere forgettable in the middle. Nevertheless, super beach entertainment. Natalieboy would probably say almost as good as his book.

Most of the rest of our time in San Seb consisted of eating, beaching and sleeping. Our other few activities were climbing to see Jesus and taking a day trip to Getaria to see the Balenciaga museum and hang on a different beach. The Balenciaga Museum was really nice but was proooobs more of a chickseum. But really pretty clothes and fun.

It was a pretty big park/hill (and steep, I might add), but eventually, we found Jesus.
Then we had mojitos and listened to the ocean.
One of my fave Balenciaga dresses that I saw
And then we had nectarinetime on the beach in Getaria. Don’t judge.

Another thing to note. It is amazing and wonderful how cheap everything is. Wine was usually about €2/cup, if not less. Pintxos were between €1.50-€5 each depending on the restaurant and the type of food. Also, try the green wine – vina verde – called Txchacoli. I saw a ton of people order that when they were at a bar, so I thought we should try it. It’s local and interesting.

We tried these places — and recommend these foods:

Irrintzi – the one with the fried eggplant and the one with the secret meat that you don’t expect (sorry I can’t be more helpful than that…)

Senra – calamari was yummy, but also heard that the hot pintxos were good. And there is an amazing liquidy custardy dessert that I’ve now forgotten the name of 😦

La Perla – patatas la perla and Sarah was in love with the cerdo bocadillo

Gandarías – steak

La Cuchara de San Telmo – foie gras with apple sauce, octopus, some sort of steak. Jenna actually sent Sarah an email while we were there saying she read about this place as a definite place to go for good food — and again! right down the street from us!! And it was really really good.

Egosari – cathedral of kebabs

Bide Bide – Torrijas – SO YUM

We also went to these beaches: Playa de la Concha, Playa Zurriola, Playa Ondarreta, Playa Zaurautz, and Playa Getaria. We played velcroball first, but that thing broke, so we got paddleball, which a lot of people were playing on the beach. But we were competitive and yet no good at all until we made a court for ourselves…

Our paddleball court

Halfway through our 3rd game is when I checked my butt and realized that I’d become a human Reese’s peanut butter cup. Guess that’s what happens when the tide takes your SPF 50 and you aren’t living in the shade of your €8 beach umbrella.

And then there was the final casualty. We had a few. Sarah’s maxi dress belt, our facewash, my sunscreen. But on my last dip into the ocean, as I swam as far out as I could before we had to head to the airport…the Spanish Sea stole one of my toe rings. I was so so sad and futilely tried to check around the sand underwater where I stood, while the ocean shoved me in every direction away from the scene of the crime. ALAS. I still have one and will get a refill on my next trip to India.

Fyi, so you don’t make the same unprepared mistake that we did, there IS a bus that goes from Bilbao to the airport – it’s about 70 minutes and €17. Definitely worth it. It departs on the hour, but check the times and keep an eye out for when they load up – we almost missed ours! If you are planning to go though and have any other questions, please ask! Would love to help 🙂

We made it to the airport with PLENTY of time to spare (oops) and ended up munching on The Perfect Combination.

While Sarah went to get us a bottle of wine, I waited, reading, when suddenly, she scares the shh out of me after having run back to say, GUESS WHO I SAW. My first and correct guess – Natalie???? IT WAS NATALIE[boy]. And Nataliegirl was nowhere to be seen. Did she go to get them a Perfect Combination snack?? Did she live somewhere else and they had just met up in San Sebastian?? Did they break up? Was she in his suitcase???? A mystery. And now we’ll never know.

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