We arrived in Vitoria-Gasteiz from San Sebastian, an hour and some bus ride barreling along through heavy rain. I was relieved that we weren’t driving as we had considered renting a car somewhere in the planning stage of our trip. I came to really appreciate the bus system in Spain as the buses were on time, clean, modern and conveniently located. Lauren would purchase our tickets ahead of time choosing our seats at the back of the bus where it tended to be less crowded if the bus wasn’t full. Even the bus stations were impressive with espresso coffee and clean, large restrooms.
It was still raining when we arrived in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the city where Lauren lives and teaches English at a high school. We rolled our luggage past the modern art museum and along several blocks downtown before we arrived at her fifth floor apartment she shares with four others.
Her apartment is located downtown amidst shops, cafes, bakeries and small grocery stores and I was immediately impressed when she announced, “this is it”.
It had been a full day and we were exhausted so instead of tossing our luggage into her place and heading out to her favorite pinxtos bars, we stayed in and Lauren cooked a scrumpscious vegetarian meal for us. I don’t know how she found the energy for it because if it had been up to me I would have settled for toast and tea.
I adored her apartment, Lauren’s room was spacious and bright with views of the city and the shared kitchen/ dining space was cozy. I met two of her housemates, both students, who were friendly and super busy with their studies. It was somewhat of a relief to settle into to my daughter’s home and to take a break from attempting to see everything. While it rained.
The next morning Lauren proudly showed me around her town. I could tell she wanted me to discover some things on my own (she loves surprises) and didn’t tell me everything in advance that we might see.
Our first stop was the farmer’s market where Lauren chatted up and joked with a local farmer while I somewhat patiently waited for my coffee.
Then to Plaza de la Virgen Blanca where we sat outside to have our coffee and a croissant and to people watch. “Wow, I’m really in Europe”, I thought to myself as we sat there together sipping delicious espresso out of small ceramic cups (no paper cups here).
I was in Basque country because of Lauren and I felt so immensely proud of her. She was living in Spain by herself, learning another language, and figuring everything out on her own, without complaints or asking for anything from me. Her independent, adventurous spirit has always amazed me but it was sitting there with her in the plaza where I fully realized how extraordinary her life is. She had made this all happen on her own. I had traveled to Spain because of her and my life was enriched enormously from the experience.
Next we walked around Casco Viejo, which Lauren pointed out was built in the shape of an almond. Its colorful, narrow streets were rich with shops, pinxto bars and history. Everywhere I looked was a photo opportunity; so much to take in. I found it interesting when one of Lauren’s housemates asked if we were going to take a day trip to the wine country because in his opinion there was nothing to see in Vitoria. We had decided to stay in town because we were exhausted from dashing around and I wanted to see Lauren’s city. I suppose when you live in an area everything seems ordinary after a time and you can’t imagine what someone new would want to see in your old familiar place. But with new eyes there was more for me to see in Vitoria-Gasteiz than I could experience in two days. It was all spectacular to me.
Flaming chorizo for lunch in Casco Viejo.
The covered moving walkway was interesting and unusual.