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Ger’s Trip Report: From Bilbao to Toledo September 2018

Ger’s Trip Report: From Bilbao to Toledo September 2018

Nov 7th, 2018, 09:41 AM
  #21  
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Thanks mike. But I DO I know better - I am an awful typist. I was negligent in my 'quality assurance review' before posting.

I am thinking my pal St Cirq must have chewed the end of her red 'editors' pencil off when she discovered my mistake - eh Mellen? LOL

I will try harder!

Regards … Ger
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Nov 7th, 2018, 10:30 AM
  #22  
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Bilbao Saturday

Morning: Breakfast



We were up and out early. I refuse, in the strongest terms, to pay extra to eat breakfast at the hotel, even when on business and the client is paying for it.



And why would you eat breakfast in a hotel in Bilbao, when you have the unique opportunity to eat breakfast on Saturday morning at the La Ribera Market, surely one of the best destinations in the city.

http://www.bilbao.eus/cs/Satellite?c=BIO_Generico_FA&cid=3001133397&languag e=en&pageid=3000037733&pagename=Bilbaonet%2FBIO_Ge nerico_FA%2FBIO_Generico



I did not know that you can have pintxos for breakfast – what a treat. What an amazing selection of (very large) morsels, all beautifully presented. I wondered how the citizens of Bilbao stay so slim, as the pintxos are large and the wine is cheap. It must be because of their genes. 😊










We sat outside, on a gloriously sunny morning, and shared a couple of pintxos, having made a brief tour of the market, which we intended to continue later. We agreed that if we lived in Bilbao, we would probably never eat a real meal, but just graze throughout the day on pintxos … and wine.



As I sat on the terrace, and gazed on the very unique architecture opposite, I was completely content, and delighted that I had decided to start my holiday in beautiful Bilbao.









Next: Bilboa Saturday lunch
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Nov 7th, 2018, 11:15 AM
  #23  
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Bilboa Saturday

Lunch at the Guggenheim

We were visiting the Guggenheim in the afternoon, so I booked the Bistro at the Guggenheim for lunch.

http://www.bistroguggenheimbilbao.com/en/

The dining room was lovely, with a view over the river. Clientele was a mixture of Spanish and ‘tourists’ – many Japanese, some Americans.

The food was surprising good, and relatively cheap, considering it is inside one of Europe’s most famous tourist attractions. I highly recommend it!

There is a set menu for 29 Euros, which includes two courses, water and wine – very reasonable for the surroundings and the excellent food.


I did not write down what we had, we were chatting too much. It was all delicious.

Starters: My pal had a tuna ceviche dish and I had a traditional poached egg dish in a soup with mashed potatoes, which I adored (Can someone find this recipe for me?)



Mains: We both had scallops with ravioli



Desert: We shared the Pan-fried caramelized French toast with ice-cream


Next: Bilboa Saturday: The evening: You just can’t stop going in Bilbao!

Last edited by OReilly64; Nov 7th, 2018 at 11:21 AM.
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Nov 7th, 2018, 11:18 AM
  #24  
 
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Great report. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Thanks!
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Nov 7th, 2018, 12:19 PM
  #25  
 
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Naw, Ger, I'm too busy salivating to get out the red pencil! That dish looks really lovely - looks to me like a piece of hake on two poached eggs on potato purée, but I have no idea what the recipe would be. The Basques do such amazing things with fish and potatoes and eggs! I'm ready to hop on a train. I don't think I've ever pigged out quite as much as I did during our week in Basque country, and I'd gladly do it again!
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Nov 7th, 2018, 12:39 PM
  #26  
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Mellen: It was two poached eggs on mashed potatoes, with a bit of toasted fish skin, and a soup!

I loved Bilbao. You would also, I am sure of it!


Best …. Ger
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Nov 7th, 2018, 01:32 PM
  #27  
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Bilboa Saturday

The evening: You just can’t stop going in Bilbao!

My pal and I arrived in Bilbao exhausted, from working too many hours and too much work stress. Maybe it was the sea air, maybe it was atmosphere and the people, but we felt so relaxed in this city, and it energised us.

We had spent a long day of walking the town, and a few hours exploring the Guggenheim, which has some extraordinary exhibits, and also a load of pretentious shite masquerading as art, in my opinion.

After a long day, w
e arrived at La Vińa del Ensanche, landed a table outside and enjoyed just being there and relaxing, over a couple of glasses of wine.

http://www.lavinadelensanche.com/en/



The evening was not yet over. We both wanted to visit the renowned Café Iruna, where we had pintxos and more wine. We agreed that this would be our local, as it is an absolutely gorgeous, pintxos are delicious, wine is cheap. 😊

https://www.cafeirunabilbao.net/el-cafe

We wandered back to the hotel and said goodnight to Bilbao.








Next: Breakfast in Guggenheim and lunch in Getxo
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Nov 7th, 2018, 01:40 PM
  #28  
 
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Was there on an extended trip to Donostia, St-Jean-de-Luz, and elsewhere 2 years ago in September, Ger, and loved the place. Unfortunately, I didn't pencil in enough time for Bilbao, so must go back.

I have to agree with you about some of the exhibits in the Guggenheim, though,. When we were there, there was a huge, cavernous room full of enormous, maze-like winding wooden structures you were supposed to wander around in and, I suppose, get lost in. Just made me motion-sick (and I've been on Greek ferries in squalls and didn't suffer) I also think the doggy sculpture at the entrance is sort of dippy. Loved the outdoor café, though, and some of the regular exhibits. And the cool stuff on the outdoor terraces above the river.
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Nov 7th, 2018, 02:20 PM
  #29  
 
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Ger,

Could you describe the poached egg dish a little more? Is it in a seafood broth? It looks delicious! Spain is my new love. Thank you for all the details, it will be a big help for my next trip.
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Nov 8th, 2018, 12:20 PM
  #30  
 
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I've been mentally travelling with you and am enjoying it :
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Nov 10th, 2018, 10:33 AM
  #31  
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KIss-kiss Mimi: I hope you received all of the postcards

cafegodess: I think it had a seafood soup broth, as you said, probably based on cod. I have found something similar, but more rustic from the region, which is based on a salt-cod broth and potatoes. Maye Mikeg could help us out.

Mellen: I am certain you would love Bilbao. I liked San Sébastien, was there for just one day and an overnight - nice holiday destination, and I want to go back. Bilbao was just more interesting and has more character. Dublin may be a very poor comparator (not at all pretty), but there were similarities in the character of the towns, and definitely the people. Its a town in which I could easily live, and be part of, as long as I did not have to learn the extraordinarily difficult Basque language. I could talk Gaelic to them, and we could be equally confounded!
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Nov 10th, 2018, 10:46 AM
  #32  
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Bibao Sunday Breakfast

We were up early next morning to take the funicular up the mountain. I had anticipated having breakfast there with wonderful views but, perhaps because of the time of year, there was just one rather sad and dingy restaurant open. Back down we went.


A is a bit of a chocoholic and needs her fix of hot chocolate every morning. She had read that the Guggenheim has among the best in hot chocolate in the city, so we headed there for a croissant and beverage. It was nice to sit outside on a gorgeous morning, just behind the flower dog. She gave me a sip of her hot chocolate and I gaged – so sweet!


Getxo Sunday Lunch

Tamarises Izarra

https://tamarisesizarra.com/


This is a very ‘POSH’ restaurant, catering for the very well-heeled of Getxo and Bilbao, and there were loads of them – you could tell by the excellent cut of the clothes and the ladies’ jewellery, shoes and handbags. All were dressed ‘smart casual’ , but all wearing discreet and expensive designers.

Book ahead for Sunday lunch – I did at least a week before, and restaurant was packed. We were lucky to get a table outside on the terrace. Service was excellent and very helpful in assisting us in choosing our dishes. This is a two hour dining experience, so be prepared.

We shared two starters. Grilled anchovies, which I had never had before ( I always thought anchovies were born in a tin swimming in olive oil) and a local specialty – absolutely delicious. Grilled octopus trunk with honey ali-oli - probably up there with one of the best dishes of the trip.

For mains, A had the tuna and I had the Turbot (not had that for many years, as it tends to be prohibitively expensive) and we swapped dishes half-way through. Wow, simply cooked and simply divine! My only complaint is that the dishes were too large – how on earth do the Basques remain so thin?

Neither of us could finish, which caused some consternation to our hosts – we had to reassure them that the dishes were wonderful, among the best we had ever eaten, but just too big.


There was no room for dessert, as I felt like I was going to burst, and wanted to climb under the table and take a nap.

The meal, with a very good bottle of Albarino (25 Euros!!! We would pay at least 60 Euros for this in London), two bottles of water and coffee, was just less than 60 Euros per person.

The meal was worth every penny, given the standard of food and wine, the service, the dining room, the view – everything was simply perfect.

In the taxi on the way back to Bilbao, we both agreed that this meal in London would have cost maybe twice to three times more, and we just would not do it, as it outside our ‘snack bracket’, and generally only available in Knightsbridge and Kensington, both of which we despise.

Then we got annoyed: What are we working for? Why cannot we have access to this wonderful standard of food? Why cannot we even get the basics ingredients we saw in the Market yesterday, and cook it ourselves? Why are we living in London, and not here in Bilbao, where people appear to have mastered the art of living well?

Bibao: Evening Pintxos

After attending the theatre, to see Sara Baras (what an extraordinary experience!), we were energised and walked in the rain to the Café Iruna. When I love something, I just want to keep going back.

https://www.cafeirunabilbao.net/




Bibao Sunday Breakfast

We were up early next morning to take the funicular up the mountain. I had anticipated having breakfast there with wonderful view but, perhaps because of the time of year, there was just one rather sad and dingy restaurant open. Back down we went. A is a bit of a chocoholic and needs her fix of hot chocolate every morning. She had read that the Guggenheim has among the best in hot chocolate in the city, so we headed there for a croissant and beverage. It was nice to sit outside on a gorgeous morning, just behind the flower dog. She gave me a sip of her hot chocolate and I gaged – so sweet! Getxo Sunday Lunch Tamarises Izarra

https://tamarisesizarra.com/

This is a very ‘POSH’ restaurant, catering for the very well-heeled of Getxo and Bilbao, and there were loads of them – you could tell by the excellent cut of the clothes and the ladies’ jewellery, shoes and handbags. All were dressed ‘smart casual’ , but all wearing discreet and expensive designers. Book ahead for Sunday lunch – I did at least a week before, and restaurant was packed. We were lucky to get a table outside on the terrace. Service was excellent and very helpful in assisting us in choosing our dishes. This is a two hour dining experience, so be prepared. We shared two starters. Grilled anchovies, which I had never had before ( I always thought anchovies were born in a tin swimming in olive oil &#128522 and a local specialty – absolutely delicious. Grilled octopus trunk with honey ali-oli - probably up there with one of the best dishes of the trip. For mains, A had the tuna and I had the Turbot (not had that for many years, as it tends to be prohibitively expensive) and we swapped dishes half-way through. Wow, simply cooked and simply divine! My only complaint is that the dishes were too large – how on earth do the Basques remain so thin? Neither of us could finish, which caused some consternation to our hosts – we had to reassure them that the dishes were wonderful, among the best we had ever eaten, but just too big. There was no room for dessert, as I felt like I was going to burst, and wanted to climb under the table and take a nap. The meal, with a very good bottle of Albarino (25 Euros!!! We would pay at least 60 Euros for this in London), two bottles of water and coffee, was just less than 60 Euros per person.

The meal was worth every penny, given the standard of food and wine, the service, the dining room, the view – everything was simply perfect. In the taxi on the way back to Bilbao, we both agreed that this meal in London would have cost maybe three times more, and we just would not do it, as it outside our ‘snack bracket’, and generally only available in Knightsbridge and Kensington, both of which we despise.

Then we got annoyed: What are we working for? Why cannot we have access to this wonderful standard of food? Why cannot we even get the basics ingredients we saw in the Market yesterday, and cook it ourselves? Why are we living in London, and not here in Bilbao, where people appear to have mastered the art of living well?

Bibao: Evening PintxosAfter attending the theatre, to see Sara Baras (what an extraordinary experience!), we were energised and walked in the rain to the Café Iruna. When I love something, I just want to keep going back.

https://www.cafeirunabilbao.net/A couple of glasses of wine and a few pintxos later, we returned to the hotel.

We of us were both leaving in the morning, A to London and me to Burgos, via Vitoria. I was sorry to leave. Bilbao deserves more respect than just a weekend. For people who appreciate food, this is a primary destination, and I understand why. The Basque are passionate about and proud of their food, as well they should. Next: A visit to Vitoria, on the way to Burgos
A couple of glasses of wine and a few pintxos later, we returned to the hotel.

We were both leaving in the morning, A to London and me to Burgos, via Vitoria. I was sorry to leave. Bilbao deserves more respect than just a weekend. For people who appreciate food, this is a primary destination, and I understand why. The Basque are passionate about and proud of their food, as well they should.

Next: A visit to Vitoria, on the way to Burgos

Last edited by OReilly64; Nov 10th, 2018 at 11:46 AM.
OReilly64 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2018, 10:49 AM
  #33  
 
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I agree, Ger. Our "gardener," or I should say the man who has taken over our lives, is Basque. He's tried to teach me some Basque, and lord knows I tried when we visited the area, but boy it's a stickler! I'm working on Moroccan Arabic right now (very different from the Standard Modern Arabic I've attempted in the past), and it seems a breeze compared to Basque.

Have you read The Basque History of the World? If not, I think you'd really enjoy it.

And yes, the whole area is just a few train rides away from here, so we'll be back soon.

If you get annoyed enough, you just might find yourself there! Annoyance can be a big life-changer

Last edited by StCirq; Nov 10th, 2018 at 10:52 AM.
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Nov 10th, 2018, 11:18 AM
  #34  
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Hi Mellen:

Yes, I bought the when it came out and have read it.

Yes, I am beyond annoyed, and now just thinking about where and when. I am fairly sure 'WHERE' will be somewhere in Spain.

I am going to Madrid (not been there for about 15 years) for a week, next week. Just decided last night. I have rented an apartment, and my company agreed that I can 'work from home' in Madrid.

Regards … Ger

Last edited by OReilly64; Nov 10th, 2018 at 11:21 AM.
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Nov 11th, 2018, 02:40 AM
  #35  
 
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I have never been to Spain, but you do make me feel like I am missing out
Enjoying your report.
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Nov 11th, 2018, 03:53 AM
  #36  
 
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And you are seriously making me want to get back to Spain as soon as possible! We would love to return and you've given plenty of good reasons to go back!
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Nov 11th, 2018, 10:28 AM
  #37  
 
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Hi Ger...just been to Tamarises for lunch, having a set menu that has been absolutely delicious!!! Thanks, I live just 10min away but hadn´t been there in a long time. And thanks to your report, I´ve taken the opportunity today to enjoy a great meal!!!
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Nov 14th, 2018, 03:33 PM
  #38  
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Hello Mike:

Thank you!

There is no better compliment than this: my report reminds a local to dine in a restaurant I recommend.



Best regards … Ger
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Jan 5th, 2019, 07:00 AM
  #39  
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September 24th: Vitoria-Gasteiz

The following morning, I said goodbye to my pal and headed by bus to Vitoria, a pleasant 60 minute trip with buses leaving every hour. Arriving at the lovely new bus terminal, I stashed my luggage in the lockers and took the tram to the town centre (about 10 minutes).

First stop was the Cathedral which can only be seen via guided tour. https://www.catedralvitoria.eus/en/home/

The Cathedral of Santa María was built in the Gothic style in the late 13th and throughout the 14th century. It was closed in 1994 due to it literally falling down and since then has undergone significant restoration, responding for services in 2014. It is still a work in progress. The escorted tour brings the visitor behind the scenes to see the restorations. Given my passion for architecture, this was an absolute joy for me - seeing the live reconstruction and up-close with the work done by the stonemasons of 13th & 14th centuries. Warning: There is a lot of walking involved and at times the passageways on the outward walls are very narrow.

Here are some photos of the tour:

https://qq0u.app.link/e/M32WGjWqeT



Lunch:

El Portalón

https://www.restauranteelportalon.com/carta/carnes.html

Traditional fare and famous for its milk-fed lamb. I started with the hearty vegetable soup and had he milk-fed lamb as main - It was delicious, but far too much for one person. With 2 glasses of red wine and water, the bill came to about 45 Euros.

Afternoon

I spent the afternoon exploring Vitoria. Vitoria-Gasteiz, the Basque capital, was founded towards the end of the 12th century, is a charming town with beautiful and unique architecture, a plethora of historic buildings and elegant large Plazas. On this Monday afternoon, the town was completely devoid of any tourists. I highly recommend a visit and was glad I had taken time out on my way to Burgos.

Here are some photos of the town:

https://qq0u.app.link/e/5jTnIIbreT

I had a glass of wine outside before hopping on the tram for the short ride back to the bus station to take the bus to Burgos (90 minutes).

The bus station in Burgos is only about 10 minutes walk to my hotel, AC Hotel Burgos by Marriott. As mentioned above, I was very pleased with the room and location of the hotel.

After check-in, not yet tired enough to retire, I went for a stroll around the town and relaxed over a glass of wine in the square opposite the Cathedral.


Next : Exploring Burgos
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Jan 6th, 2019, 12:10 AM
  #40  
 
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Good to know that you visited the capital of the Basque Country, that is quite ignored by visitors...and there´s no reason at all for it!!
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