1 Year Ago we awoke at the four-star Hotel Palacio de San Esteban in Salamanca [thank you Hotwire] and treated ourselves with room service for breakfast as the bells of the adjoining Cloister of the Convent of San Esteban marked the time. It was an all too brief respite from the travails of the previous day and sustenance for the four hour schlep northward to our next stop: Bilbao.
I take one photo of some fantastic street art before leaving this World Heritage Site city [Salamanca will have to be explored next time around – that next time list is already piling up] while the Jojo gets four tiny café con leche from a corner shop.
We arrived in Bilbao, couldn’t get in touch with our Airbnb host and sat on the street illegally parked for over an hour waiting him out. I tried to turn right off a roundabout and nearly plowed over a cop who had the street blocked off for an event. We eventually found a parking garage a good six blocks from the flat, schlepping our luggage through what turned out to be a parade crowd – on both sides of the street – chock full of kids and parents with strollers thinking we were pushing to the front.
Yes, people. We’ve brought our entire lives with us inside multiple suitcases just to block your view of the parade route.
It turns out we arrived in the midst of Three Kings Day that honors the Biblical wisemen [Melchor, Gazpar and Baltasar]. The Cabalgata de Reyes Magos has been celebrated in Spain since 1866, which has a decidedly Mardi Gras vibe: music, floats, dancers, candy thrown to the crowds. The festivities passed by at the end of our pedestrian street [you can see the crowds packed in just beyond the pop-up tent in the picture above] and spilled into the square below our balcony.
For hours after, families gathered, children ran and played, old men drank small beers and ate pintxo [the Basque equivalent of tapas]. Dramamine warning: I’ve included some amateur eyewitness video below.
The whole scene charmed the socks off us. Bilbao was already turning out to be a sweet surprise.