I recall that when Peter Jansons first opened The Dunes, it was to be a tapas bar. Perhaps I am imagining this. In any case, tapas are the lifeblood of the eating scene in Bilbao, and yesterday we had our first experience thereof.
We set out on our snacking mission at about 7.30h. About 15 minutes in, it started to rain. Hard. Fast. Wet. We sought shelter under the canopies of shops. Somehow Oliver, by placing his fingers in the lowered shutters in front of a chi chi clothing store, caused an alarm to go off. We left that storefront quickly. Eventually, growing ever more tired and wet, we ambled into Cafe Iruna. This joint was jumping, apparently busy not only from the Sunday evening crowd, but also because of special events surrounding its 100th anniversary.
The idea of tapas is that a wild collection of small snacks is displayed on the counter, and, you order little bits of whatever strikes your fancy. In an orgy of soggy hunger, we quickly polished off a couple of slices of french bread covered with ham and marinated mushrooms, followed by some lamb shish kabob roasted on a barbeque in the corner, followed by a couple of glasses of red wine, followed by some ham and cheese. Oliver drank pineapple juice, ate our leavings, and seemed generally content about the entire affair. Total bill was about $8.00. The plan was to head off into the night for dinner afterwards, but we were so happy and well-fed that we simply went home and went to bed.
This morning the soggy theme continued, with the added flourish of having just used up Oliver’s last disposable diaper. We set off into the damp (but not rainy) Bilbao morning, eventually locating the only pack of size 5 diapers in the city in the back of a cosmetics shop near the Guggenheim. We grabbed coffee (and zumo del pina) in a smoky bar, and then made our way, under darkening skies, to Restaurante vegetariano, one of two vegetarian restaurants in the city.
This proved to be exactly what we needed — a four course vegetarian meal (salad, soup, main course and dessert with tea). The food was excellent, and the service wonderful.
When we emerged an hour later, the skies had opened. Fortunately we had purchased an umbrella earlier in the day. Unfortunately, our ‘one umbrella should be fine’ theory proved naive, and Catherine and I got drenched while Oliver hung onto the umbrella, for dear life, in his stroller. A thirty minute dash later, and we arrived soaked to the skim at out hotel.
The rain (in Spain) has let up now, and after Oliver has a nap, we will venture out again. Tomorrow is our day reserved to tour the Guggenheim, so I’m sure there will be much to report.