Bilbao Chewed Me Up! (An Adventure in Bilbao, Spain)

Where am I? The question you never want to wake up thinking. Why is every muscle in my body sore? The second question you never want to wake up thinking? Where is my stuff? Three strikes in the world of travel. It drifted back into my mind that the two snoring sloths in the from seats were my roommate and my Portuguese friend. I fondle something behind my seat and realize its my camera and everything is fine. As long as I have my camera then I am perfectly fine. Everything could be lost just not my camera please. As my brain tries to remember what happened and how I got here I call out for my roommate asking the time. He groans an answer of eleven thirty and it starts to come back to me. I catch my reflection in the rear view mirror and see that I’m covered in glitter. The idea of how this happened scares me and the fact that there is blood on my leg makes me worry.


We reached Bilbao in the evening driving down from wooded hills to a bowl shaped city and back up into stumpy japanese style architecture. After a short time deciding what we were taking with us this night, it was apparent that the wine we purchased had high priority. A couple of bottles of Semi Dry Cava, Lambrusco, and Crianza from Rioja fills our bags. We find a nice park and pop a cork to enjoy  the warm evening. After a discussion of food politics and Michelin Stars we found ourselves working our way through Bilbao. Unsure of where the festivities were occurring a firework show exploded behind us. I am a serious fire work enthusiast but like many of my friends here they were a little unimpressed. After begging to watch we decided most of the people were closer to the fireworks than we were.

Turning a corner we found a hoard of drummers, dancers and partying people. We obviously were not expecting this but I also don’t think we had any expectations. Flush with excitement we dove in. My roommate rushed over to the drums and started dancing along with a bottle of Cava in hand. I joined suit atop a small wall surrounding a spurting fountain. It was pure beats and joy. There is no better way to feel alive. Dancing for a few hours and taking photos of our surroundings we gained a serious hunger.

Searching for some good food we stumbled upon an old style Basque Pintxo Bar. We rushed in and ordered our favorites. A Jamon sandwich, Calamares, Croquettas, and Albondigas. After a Cervesa, Cafe con Leche and a little sweets we were back into the party.

We have a funny luck with running into people we know. We happened to meet up with over five different groups of people from our work without planning which doesn’t seem plausible in the sea of thousands of people. We couldn’t fathom the amount of people that had come to Bilbao on a monday for the Festival.


We hopped from Dj to concert to outdoor bar enjoying the large crowds and amazing music. We drank kalimotxo and wine with strangers and friends. I was exceptionally impressed with how nice everyone was. At one point I had become separated from my friends and decided to take some photos of the excitement. People started buying me drinks and asking for there photo to be taken. I figured this was normal behavior until someone asked me if there photo would be in National Geographic. I guess the telephoto lens and large camera bag gave the wrong impression. I didn’t want to upset anyone and decided to go with it and have some fun. I made friends all over and ran out of space on my camera which never happens. It wasn’t until I found my friends dancing by dancing on a bar that I decided maybe I should move on.


As the sun started to come up we decided it would be a good idea to head back to the car. As the only one in our group with a sense of direction I tried to lead us back to where we parked. We sang and skipped our back and some how found or way. I am not sure where the glitter came from or how I got blood on my leg. I know that I was sore from dancing having so much fun which is a great thing.  It was a crazy fun night and it for sure will not be the last one we have in Bilbao.

Brenden Darby is a culinary enthusiast who has an extreme passion for wine and adventure. He is the 2012 winner of the Basque Stage where he works at Three Michelin Star Restaurant Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain. When he is not in the kitchen he is exploring the surrounding area for the food, wine, and travel mischief it has to offer. You can follow his expedition at


Vinnie recently joined the team at Wine and Food Travel as Editor in Chief. We are very excited to have her culinary experience and artistic background to draw from here at WAFT. Vinnie brings a wealth of experience in the culinary arts, professional writing and marketing. Her passion, expertise and her willingness to share her learnings with readers is a welcome contribution to the WAFT team. Vinnie also maintains a food blog where she shares many of her recipes, food experiences and adventures,

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