t says: I’ve been waiting for this for a long time:
t says: I love this menu:
t says: This project’s gotten a lot of hype … so I’ve been skeptical, but damn these soups sound good!
t says: After our final 10am tasting in Rioja (Marques de Teran in Ollauri), we booked it on over to San Sebastian … with another spur-of-the-moment wine tasting along the way in Geteria …
Our lodging in SSB was … let’s say … “interesting”. Given all the issues with the room we had at Hotel Punta Monpas, I can’t say we’d stay again. It was “clean enough”, but I dare not say “clean”. The staff was “nice enough”, but I dare not say “competent”. Parking was “available”, but I dare not say “convenient”. But in the end, the price we paid was far less than other places in SSB, the bed was comfy, the AC was superb (it got rather hot while we were there), and you can’t argue with the beachfront location:
I’ll leave you to the tripadvisor pages for more pictures of the hotel (and if you look closely enough, I’m sure you’ll find our review when I post it).
More importantly, there was a TON of fabulous food in SSB. We did not have the bank account to afford Mugaritz, Arzak, etc. Instead, we had to pick-and-choose wisely. And pick-and-choose wisely we did!
Sick and tired of looking at food? I guess we’ll have to go back to wine:
So … now that we’re a few day into our trip, it’s time to summarize some highlights. We have taken SO many photos on our phones and it’d just be too annoying to load them all here. Anyone who follows g on Instagram will have access to her thoughtfully curated/composed selection (which differs greatly from my not-as-thoughtful selection here). Seek them out if you want more!
As mentioned in our last post, our trip started in Bilbao, and stayed at Barcelo Bilbao Nervion. We don’t have any photos of the place that don’t reveal our true identities, but we were satisfied about it’s cleanliness, which really is our main criteria for an awesome hotel. It was icing on the cake to have a disco-cow, however:
There were a few cool attractions in Bilbao, including the Zubizuri bridge and the Guggenheim.
Once again, we have a lot of photos with us in them, so I can only show you these:
The Guggenheim’s offerings were fantastic in that it’s a very small museum, with only a handful “real” exhibitions: one about Yoko Ono, one about Braque (g appreciated it more than me), and a gigantic one called La Materia Del Timepo …
… and another one installation entitled “The Visitors”, which was fantastic! I would try to describe it, but have been told by g several times that my explanation is misleading and therefore it’s better off that I just not say anything … so I won’t … except that it was probably one of the most enjoyable exhibits I’ve ever had at a museum.
Food was present in various forms in Bilbao. It’s a shame, however, that we were there on a Sunday, where there were very limited options for lunch/dinner. For example, for lunch, we found a weird pseudo-Japanese place:
From Bilbao, we went off to Rioja. We stayed in the cute little town of Ollauri (oh-jao-ree) at a place called the Black Grape – we found it on AirBNB. the place was pretty darn awesome – go ahead and find it on the web to find good photos. For us, this one was the main factor:
There were numerous wineries we visited:
Perhaps our best winery was Remelluri. This place was phenomenal, and we lack the photos to do it justice. The tour (led by the winemaker’s sister – it’s a family-run operation there!), offered a great history lesson of the property, limited focus on vinification (after all, if you’ve had one winery tour, you’ve had them all), and astounding wines. It also looks like it’d be a fabulous place to have an event (not that I’m sure they’d even that – but if you wanted a fairy-tale rustic vineyard wedding, this place is the place – complete with tiny rustic chapel and sweeping views of vineyards and mountains in the distance!).
The food situation in Rioja was a unique one for us. We did a LOT of home-cooking at The Black Grape, making a few trips to town for a carniseria and other local supermarkets and keeping the overall expense of our trip way-down. Over three nights, we spend ~250 Euro … for 8 people … including the majority of our wine …
One night was our anniversary, so it warranted a “fancy meal”. We ventured out to Ezcaray to eat at Potal del Echaurren Tradicionale.
We also got info from “the locals” that there was a very traditional lunch-place that did an amazing lamb. We set out to find it and were rewarded with a fabulously “normal” meal that we would not have been able to do without the help of our lovely Spanish-speaking travelmates. It was called El Trujal del Abuelo in Cihuri.
Dear Wylie Dufresne,
I read that you will be looking to relocate soon. Why not shake it up some and come on down to Philly?
t says: I have been chanting “Spain 2014″ since 2012 (i.e. ever since planning our last France trip). And … all that hypnotic brain-washing has paid off, as now there will be Spanish vacations of 8 people running in parallel (a, v, drb and his girlfriend, a’s parents, g and me). Having focused on north-eastern Spain (Bilbao, San Sebastian, Rioja), there will be much food and wine (with minimal dance and chit-chat … just the way I like it … sorry … inside joke). Of course, there will also be many pictures …. starting NOW: