While not on our original itinerary we decided to head to Spain to visit some friends to wrap up our world tour. On the first day of our trek of the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal we met an awesome couple from the Basque Country in Spain. We spent two weeks hiking, eating and having a great time together. So after we said our goodbyes to Ane and Gontzal we promised to meet back up and it just so happened that Spain fit nicely into our trip, especially since they graciously offered us a place to stay.

Candlelight Evening

Since we were visiting during the week we expected to Ane and Gontzal to be working, but they took the whole week off to show us around the area. We met up in Madrid, toured around the city and sampled our share of caña (small beers) and tapeo (tapas). Touring from bar to bar we set the tone for the week; the food and drink in Spain were amazing and with our local guides we spent the week eating our way around the region.

After our night out and day in Madrid we made our way to La Rioja, one of our new favorite wine regions. We spent the night in Logroño sampling tapas and wine late into the night. Each bar in town offered a specialty tapas from spanish omlettes to grilled mushrooms and along with the delicious red wine we were in heaven. Abby kept exclaiming, "mi favo," after each bar and since we wanted to try it all we had quite the progressive party.


The next morning Ane arranged an English speaking private tour around the La Rioja Alta, S.A. Bodega; a large winery that has been around for over 120 years.

La Rioja Alta, S.A.

We finished off our tour with a nice tasting, purchasing a few bottles to bring home, and driving through the charming villages of the region.

From there we made our way into the Basque Country to their flat just outside of Bilbao. We spent the next few days touring the area. For all the places we seem to have know about in Europe the Basque Country was completely new to us. The history, the sights and even the language were so interesting. It was truly incredible, the countryside of lush green rolling hills set off the beautiful coastlines and the charming seaside towns. Ane and Gontzal are about 5 minutes away from the beach so we got to take in several sunsets while we were there.

We started our tour of the North by visiting the city of Portugalete and taking a trip on its unique transporter bridge (the first of its kind and built in 1893).

Walking through the narrow, quaint streets of many of the Basque cities was like going back in time.

We spent some time in city of Bilbao, one of my personal favorites due to its amazing mix of historic Spanish and new modern architecture. One of the prominent examples is the Guggenheim Museum.


As well as the many unique bridges that cross the Nervion River.

We had a great time exploring, starting our days a little later, eating lunch around 2, tapas around 5, and finally dinner sometime around 10. A very different schedule than Abby and I were used to, but it was a ton of fun staying out late going from bar to bar in the streets packed with people. We were also treated to Ane's moms home cooking on several occasions and were welcomed graciously into their home. With my limited Spanish speaking skills and Abby's non existent ones we still felt right at home and felt very fortunate to get to meet their lovely family.

We spent the next several days exploring more of the Basque region. We headed out to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and had lunch overlooking the island and the hermitage on top. After a huge meal we took a much needed siesta and then hiked to the top.

We also stopped at many of the small sea side towns on the coast and continued to enjoy the delicious food and drink along the way.

With sunshine everyday, we spent a day on the beaches of San Sebastian, everyone insisted that spring in Northern Spain is cold and rainy and that we were very lucky, so we took full advantage of it. We spent our last night out in Bilbao eating "pintxos" and celebrating our last night abroad.

It was an amazing week and a great way to wrap up our adventure. We were so fortunate to have been able to spend it with Ane and Gontzal. Their hospitality made it an unforgettable trip and we hope we can repay it when they come visit us in America.

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