Arriving at the airport with plenty of time before the flight, I pray profusely to the ‘low-cost airline gods in the sky’ for a childfree flight. To my utter delight, I find a row of three empty seats opposite and no screaming children. I lip-sync along to the safety video, slip on my blackout eye mask, shove in my earplugs and snooze the 1:45 min flight to Bilbao.
The airport shuttle bus is merely a few metres away from departures and within 15 minutes I’m in Bilbao. It’s a 30-minute walk to the hostel (via The Guggenheim museum for some tourist shots). Despite checking the weather forecast a few days pre, and seemingly not twigging the ‘leafy’ nature of Bilbao (sorry for the pun), I’m somewhat dismayed by the ominous looking clouds over head.
A random couple (with whom I shared a dorm with, at a hostel in Dubrovnok, Croatia, back in the summer of 2015) had inspired me to book my trip to Basque country. They’d explained to a wide-eyed me at the time, that the Spanish region has its own language and unique culture – I’d made a mental note to check it out at some point.. so here I am!
As I had a nice 5-day gap between gigs, I had booked an early Monday morning flight – finishing the wedding on Sunday evening and back home by midnight, I pull an all-nighter, leaving for the airport at 4am (what can I say, I am a true rockstar).
I’m too early to check-in, so I abandon my bag at the hostel and go in search of some coffee. After a leisurely stroll into the town centre, I find a cute little café and free table to pull out the laptop and get up to date with my emails.
The barista is seemingly unimpressed at my feeble attempt to order an oat cappuccino in Spanish, however, I manage to come away with a cappuccino and croissant for 1.75 EUR. I’m bemused as a rather entitled pigeon saunters in through the main doors and sets about hoovering up all the pastry crumbs - takes a sly glance at me and waddles back out to the main street.
Back at the hostel I manage to schmooze the hostel staff to allow me check in early and take a cheeky power nap in my bunk, trying to politely bat away the requests for small talk from the Italian guy on the bunk above. I’m pretty sure I can hear him clipping his toenails (perhaps out of spite) – must make a mental note to write that guide about hostel etiquette when I get a spare moment!
The hostel are running a fun social event this evening – seemingly a great opportunity to make some new friends. It is an online quiz, run by one of the hostel volunteers, one where you can play using your phone to answer the questions. We are a mixed, eclectic, weirdo bag of solo travellers: a fellow Brit, two Spanish girls, a Canadian and a guy from the US.
My trigger-happy fat thumbs and lack of reading the game instructions and questions carefully mean I somehow lose the music round (I was robbed). I fare infinitely better with the flags and countries round (coming a cool second – what can I say, I get around!).
We guzzle our way, respectively through the free beer and snacks I brought along to share – one of the Spanish girls is a professional oversharer like myself – the German lady (Dana) has a dry sense of humour (I like her already).
Having bonded over our competitive nature, the group heads out for late dinner and beers – having pulled an all nighter, following the gig the night before – I politely decline their attempts to drag me out on the town and head upstairs for an earliesh night (I have to navigate an early bus to San Sebastian tomorrow and don't fancy that with a raging hangover).
A rare ray of sunshine on Day 1 (Not me)
A stroll around the centre of Bilbao
Some nice shots of the centre