When travel plans fail…

Make a day trip in your town!

View of Plaza Virgin Blanca from Plaza España

View of Plaza Virgin Blanca from Plaza España

A Day trip in Vitoria- Gasteiz!

The week before our 4 day weekend, also known as a puente (literally translated: bridge) when the holiday falls on a Thursday and you get Friday off too, a friend and I talked about staying a few nights in Logroño, the capital of the region of La Rioja, one of the 17th communidades in España.  But as I started doing research a few days before were set to leave and found a place with availability and then she she mentioned, she didn’t want to spend money for a hotel and she’s heard it’s not as great if you don’t know people. Well, the latter is true in almost any city or town, it’s always better if you know someone.

We agreed on a Saturday day trip.

I impressed myself I didn’t have any set travel plans two weeks prior and I was so calm when my plans changed again. Last year, every weekend, I seemed to be  enjoying the sun in Mallorca or in awe of Cordoba. Anywhere else but my town.

She arrived a few minutes before me, enough time to buy a ticket and then when I arrived a few minutes later, I was greeted to 12 people in line, the bus leaving in 7 minutes and the ticket machine easily accessible but with the next tickets available for the 13:30 bus. What? How? And then we realized, tickets had sold out. I heard someone else in line, confirm with the only employee selling tickets, that indeed the bus leaving at 10:30 was Completo, Full.

Banco de España but now is an unused building

Banco de España but now is an unused building

Great. They refunded her money without issues and then we walked out of the station and said in unison, “Café con leche” A gloomy Saturday morning no one seemed to be out and about, like you’d expect on a Saturday and then we realized, it was a holiday. Shops were closed. Got to love Spain (and Basque Country)!

We started out our day at a pintxo bar, funky 70’s style decorations place with an abundance of pintxos. I ordered a café con leche, orange juice and a tortilla de patata (potato omelette) layered with jamón and with a meat and veggie sauce on top.  Not your typical food you’d think to have for breakfast but considering the ubiquitious American breakfast is potatoes, eggs and bacon, it’s not too far from what my own country offers up as the standard Sunday morning breakfast.

Tortilla de patata goodness for breakfast

Tortilla de patata goodness for breakfast

After an hour and half chatting and catching up, we decided, “why not make a day trip in our own city?”

And that’s exactly what we did. There was a Christmas food market we browsed and then went roaming on many streets, we know better by night than during the day.

And then we saw a sign offering wine for 1-2 euros and we couldn’t resist. One o’clock in the afternoon is a mighty fine time for a glass of wine.

White wine and a mini pintxo of cheese

White wine and a mini pintxo of cheese

We thanked Martin, who had just moved locations and changed from being a wine seller to having a wine bar. He surprised when we chatting in English amongst each other and asked us in English, “How’s the wine?” Turns out he’s lived here for 16 years and before he could say anything else, I said, “You fell for a Basque woman and you’ve been here ever since.”  He responded, “Something like that.”

Then we continued on our self-guided tour.

In the Casco Viejo, Old own of Vitoria

In the Casco Viejo, Old own of Vitoria

One of the many murals in Vitoria-Gasteiz

One of the many murals in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Casco Viejo

We were getting hungry and when we finally decided on which restaurant had the best Menú del día, we realized they were already full so we had to wait another hour before we would be seated. So we criss crossed the streets and hung out in the main plaza for a bit. This would have been a perfect time to do some Christmas shopping but on holidays, shops are closed and Monday-Saturday, in Spain and Basque Country, they like to honor the hours from 13:30-17:00 for something called, Siesta. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. For us expats,it can be really annoying. At home, when you have to wait to eat, it’s the perfect time to shop and sometimes you may think it’s a conspiracy theory- a fabulous plan by the CEO’s.

Not here.

View of one of the cathedrals in Vitoria-Gasteiz

View of one of the cathedrals in Vitoria-Gasteiz

A desert- I love Vitoria!

A desert- I love Vitoria!

Posing for a photo in the rain!

Posing for a photo in the rain!

And then it was finally time for lunch at 3:45pm!

We had a 3 course meal with wine and bread included.

Delicious salad- and not the typical "Spanish salad"

Delicious salad- and not the typical “Spanish salad”

Prime rib with potatoes and paté sauce

Prime rib with potatoes and paté sauce

My friend was more adventurous and ordered some type of pig dish. I don’t remember the name, I wasn’t a good journalist.

A pig dish with a foot

A pig dish with a foot

And then there was desert. I wanted chocolate cake but they ran out so I had ice cream cake instead.

Whisky ice cream cake

Whisky ice cream cake

Quince (membrillo), cheese and walnuts

Quince (membrillo), cheese and walnuts

And then we parted ways, our bellies full and satisfied and are heads in a wine fog.

Have you had to change plans last minute because you couldn’t get bus or train tickets?  

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7 thoughts on “When travel plans fail…

  1. Take me to that restaurant when I come visit!!! *sigh* I want to visit the Basque Country! (Apparently my family name originate from there… might also explain why my family has a more serious disposition, haha).

    • That would be amazing if you can come visit me! Oh the fun will have and the eating will do!! woo woo!
      Interesting about your name. hmmm.

    • I think it’s whisky flavored ice cream- not as special as it looks. The other is quince, cheese and nuts.

  2. The salad looks yummy! I’ve gone exploring in the countryside… I love any kind of road trip – long or short distance… so we’re always having mini trips everywhere 🙂 What are your plans for Christmas?

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