Third day of Tours

We had an early start on day 3. We left the hotel at 8 am bound for Bilbao.  However we had some interesting stops on our way. The first was your typical highway rest-stop which was interesting to me because of its construction.  The rest-stop spanned the width of the highway, over the highway.

Our next stop was in the city of Zaragoza (Saragossa).  Our stop was intended to be a lunch break with a very short time for shopping and sightseeing.  We visited the Basilica of El Pilar, a beautiful Baroque style church.  We took pictures of the exterior which still show the scars of Napoleon’s cannons.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures of the interior.  We also took pictures of the square and the beautiful cathedral with its Arab hand-crafted wall.  Next we headed underground to see the Roman ruins of the old Forum.  It was only $3 for admission, but it was really pointless. There was poor lighting and flash photography was not allowed.  I don’t doubt the ruins were real, but they were so clean with metal walkways that it seemed like something built for a Disney theme park.

We had some tapas for lunch with a couple of minutes to spare for shopping.  I got myself castonettes!  If you are going to get a professional pair anywhere, the Aragon Region is one of the best.

Next stop was a vineyard of the Rioja Region, Ramon Bilboa.  The family has been creating wine since 1924 and have distributors in Miami.  While the tour was interesting, the guide was difficult to understand and missed the mark on making it an enjoyable experience.  The tasting consisted of one choice, the Crianza variety which I found to have a bite.  After some coaxing, my sister and I were able to obtain a taste of the Reserva. It was smooth and well worth the 11 Euros for the bottle.

Our last stop was our arrival in Bilbao. There our hotel was the Melia, literally a couple of blocks from the Guggenheim.  The room was modern and very well-appointed.  It is considered a 5-star resort.  To me it only missed the mark because there wasn’t wifi in the rooms.  Every evening you’d find a full lobby trying to use the free wifi.  If it’s free, it should be able to be used from the comfort and privacy of your rooms.  Especially when you have tourist trying to use some version of Skype to communicate with loved ones. That evening the dinner was provided by the tour company at the hotel and I will tell you it was amazing!

Before dinner and after dinner we went for a walk to the Guggenheim.  We were able to get some fantastic pictures of puppy, the building and the bridge.  If you go, definitely head out at sunset-for us at was between 8 and 8:30.

One thing worth mentioning.  Take time to look out the windows on your travels from Catalonia through Aragon and Rioja Region into Basque Country.  The changes in landscaping are dramatic and difficult to capture from a moving bus (so you won’t get to see much of it here).  From tropical to golden fields to desserts to rolling hills of vineyards sprinkled with sunflowers to lush green evergreens and mountains.  It is a beautiful country. There is little doubt where the Spanish pride comes from.  They have a breathtaking country.

Tell me what you think!