Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Outstanding Out-of-Towners (Part 8)

After many action-packed days, we took Easter Sunday a bit easier - well Grammy and me that is.  Cathy, with all the energy in the world, boarded a bus to Bilbao to see the glorious Guggenheim Musuem!  Such an Energizer Bunny she is :)

After seeing her off, Grammy and I wandered towards the beach, admiring all the beautiful architecture of the houses.  Walking along the even pretty sidewalks which are flanked with gorgeous flower arrangements, sometimes we forgot to look up at the actually houses themselves.  With impressive rod-iron balconies to detailed engravings, each house was special in its own way and with the bright cherry blossoms nestled up against some of the stone buildings, they were even more astounding. 

Although a bit rainy, the sprinkling couldn't distract from the tree-lined streets and fountains that give beauty to even the normalest plazas.  In the Plaza Gipuzkoa however, there were too many flowers and trees to count!  The little pond with two swans swimming around was surrounded by bright flowering gardens and Grammy knew the name of each and every flower! 
We meandered across the Urumea River and headed to my old neighborhood of Gros.  Along the way I pointed out little things to Grammy - where Joseba and I bought our wedding rings, where I did this and that and we even had a coffee and tasty pastry at a bar I used to frequent.  As it started raining more and more though, we decided to head up to my current neighborhood, Egia, by bus for some more relax time.  Along the way we stopped off at my old apartment, and even made it into the building thanks to someone who was leaving!  Grammy got to see my old front door, which she was oh-so-excited about! 

When we arrived home, sick Joseba was cooking away - a tasty salad, this time sans sea snakes.  Not feeling well, after lunch he went to sleep and Grammy and I stayed in the living room going over photos, stories and more.  We eventually started to bake - something we have always done together and something that I love.  From carmel corn messes and muffins for school projects to ginger snap cookies and eating the cake batter, I have so many memories with my Grammy making desserts and was uber-excited to be able to actually do it in my own home. 

With some cute molds my friend Emma had bought me for Christmas, we made cute little decorative cakes for our Easter dinner that was to come.  While it wasn't raining too much we ventured up to the city cemetary, which is about 5 minutes up a steep hill from my house.  While a bit morbid, I think that the cemetary is gorgeous - with gravestones that could serve as small chapels.  Grammy, equally strange as me I suppose, also liked the place and we stayed for quite some time admiring the gravestones and their intracacies. 

After another tasty meal by Joseba we almost couldn't even eat them, but made a bit of room for them and the little Easter candies I got everyone - turns out I am the only person in the group who doesn't adore black licorice, which was one of the candies I got them.  They all popped the black licorice wheels in their mouths with gusto and when the going got tough and Grammy couldn't unravel any more, she just gave up and ate it whole, which garnerend quite a few laughs.  While there were no Easter baskets, eggs or bunnies, it was our first Easter in our home together and it was very special to have shared it with two amazing guests!


Friday, April 20, 2012

The Oustanding Out-of-Towners (Part 7 - Grammy's Guest Blog)

Last week, Amanda asked me to write my thoughts down on this past week we shared together-- me- who would forget my head if it wasn't glued on but I better give it a try......

For the past three years, Amanda has shared with me the beauty and love she has for her new home so it became a place of great interest to me and after a time I could put names on the faces of her friends at the Academy. I had a name and face for the man who stole her heart and his lovely family.  It was a Fairy Tale to  me so can you imagine my great surprise when my Niece called me last Fall and invited me to join her on a trip to Spain???? I'd get to see my grand daughter, meet her new husband, Joseba and his family.  Almost too much  to take in....

So on Monday , April 2nd, both Cathy and my self boarded the planes that took us to San Sebastian.  With Cathy making all the arrangements, all went so smooth.  Even my "ole age" and gray hair gave us many perks.   Both Amanda and Joseba met us at the Bilbao airport and our wonderful trip really began.  They met us with open arms and they were never far away.

I can't begin to describe the beautiful blue water in the Sea of Biscay. the cobble and narrow streets in the old section of the city ,the ancient cathedrals thousands of years old. Each and every day, Joseba and Amanda had some new and exciting thing to share with us.  We couldn't have found more perfect hosts.

Of all the wonderful experiences Cathy and I shared this week, the ones I hold most dear are the ones we shared with Amanda and Joseba.  We walked from one end of town to the other, stopping at many pinxto bars on the way. Joseba took us  on road trips to where he grew up, worked and lived before he married.  Meeting his lovely Mother, Maixus was  right at the top of my want list and her lovely family . She was all that Amanda said she was and I will long remember her sparkling eyes till we meet again.  I have tears when I remember holding Amanda close. I have tears when I remember a huge old cathedral and Joseba singing in his beautiful voice, Moon River. And last but not least I get tears when I remember Maixus and the great joy I felt meeting her. Altho we could not speak the same language, I hope she felt the love I held for her.  It was a week I shall never forget.

Good byes came much to soon but knowing we would see them again when they came to visit this summer made it easier.  For the time being Cathy and I left part of our hearts in San Sebastian.

Mucho  Muxu
Hazel (aka Grammy!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Outstanding Out-of-Towners (Part 6)

Saturday was forecasted to be rainy all day so we didn't want to do something that required sunshine.  What doesn't require sun?  Sleeping in, relaxing and pintxo eating!

We had an easy morning and pick the ladies up about noon and headed to the west to get some of what Joseba and I think are the tastiest pintxos.  We got off the freeway in Zumaia and headed back along the coast til we reached the little fishing village of Getaria.  Known for being home to the first man who circumnavigated the world (Elkano), being the birthplace of Balenciaga (an out-of-my-price-range designer) and the place where the best Txakoli, the Basque's white wine, is made, Getaria is also a place of yummy pintxos everywhere you look.

We parked in the port and got a close-up view of the big fishing rigs as we climbed a winding hill to the top of the rock that the city sits on.  Along the way we couldn't help but pick up some goodies in the street fair that was going on!  Once up top with a good view of the port, we ran into a restaurant with the grill outside.  With rod iron holders for fresh-caught fish to cook in, the smoke runs into the street and grabs at your nostrils as you stroll along.  With just hot coals and a bit of seasoning, these fish run a high price but are delicious and cooked right before your eyes - literally.

The cobblestone street wound past the restaurant and through a stone tunnel that is part of the church above.  Grammy and I peaked into one of the altars that is hidden in the tunnel behind a thick rod-iron gate.  As we entered the church, we marveled at it, although it was very plain.  The stained-glass windows were beautiful and some newer than most and this modernity mixed nicely with the engraved wooden pews.  From the hanging boat to the engraved whale catching on the benches, Getaria's fishing life was very apparent.

Normally when Joseba and I go into a place or pass thorugh a tunnel or basically anywhere that would have good acoustics, he tries out a song for me.  He mentioned that he had seen a 4 person accapella concert in that very church a few years back and that the sound was amazing.  Although he is not shy to sing his heart out with me, I wondered if he would be to do it for Grammy and Cathy, but when I asked him to sing us something, he thought about it for a minute and then the performer inside of him took over and he started to seranade all 3 of us with 'Moon River'.  The acoustics were perfect, the church was empty and Joseba's voice filled it.  The smell of the incense that had been burned for morning mass still hung in the air and the chill from the stone church couldn't overtake the warm voice that we were hearing.  Cathy managed to get it recorded on video and probably will use it as evidence that Joseba seranades me which means her husband should do the same ;)

We thought that Joseba's singing had earned him some food so we headed up to our favorite bar in the town to wow Cathy and Grammy with some specially ordered pintxos.  You see, each pintxo bar has a million pintxos up for grab on the bar, but what some visitors miss are the even-more tasty ones that have to be ordered.  With Joseba as an expert, we got a smorgasbord of hot pintxos to accompany our grabbed-from-the-bar variety and txakoli.  With huge mushrooms, ham croquettes, shrimp in a garlic sauce and txopitos, the 'onion' of the sea (which, Grammy I hate to break it to you, really was breaded and fried squid - they were delicious though right?!), we all had happy tummies. 

After a quick stopoff for Cathy to buy some Haribo Gummy Bears, her fave treat that she couldn't believe she had found, we headed up the hill even more afterwards to see the Elkano monument.  From here you could see everything along the coast, and had it been sunnier you could have even seen more!  The cloud were rushing in though and rain soon started to pelt us on the back and so we hurried off to the car, only after stealing one more glance of the gorgeous seaside panorama.

We took the coastal highway on the road home and made a stop off at the grocery store in Zarautz where we stocked up on yummy stuff for dinner, and Joseba gave a Basque cheese tutorial to Cathy.  With all of the stuff Cathy and Grammy needed to whip us up a tasty dinner meal, we headed home, but had one more stop on the agenda.

While Joseba grew up in Orio, his mother and her family grew up on a lovely farm right near the town of Zarautz.  We took a little detour to show Cathy and Grammy a bit of Joseba's past and they loved it.  The white walled farm is accented with red shutters and doors and the flowers around the house and all over the property and happily cared for by Joseba's uncle, Ricardo.  Grammy once even sent hiim a packet of American flowers which he currently has growing in his garden!

We dropped the ladies off to allow them a little bit of time to wind down and start thier dinner sensation and came back later in the evening, ready to be dazzled.  The meal started out with the tasty Basque green peppers that we had served at our house a few days before along with the finger foods - cheese, crushed black olives and whole colorful olives, and foie - to accompany our wine.  We sat together looking out the bay window of thier apartment to the rainy day outside and the poor folks walking with their umbrellas.  After almost finishing an entire bottle of wine, we moved onto the second part of the meal - a scrumptous salad.  Soon after came the homemade spaghetti sauce, complete with meatballs and big mushrooms!  It was all just too good and by the last bite it was almost impossible to be a clean plate ranger, but I managed to accomplish the feat.

When it came time to say bye, Joseba was the only one bidding adeiu, as I was staying over to have a girls-night slumber party!  While it sounds crazy, we were pretty stuffed and relaxed from the wine and pretty much just hit the hay soon after.  All in all, for a rainy day, we made the most of it!


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Outstanding Out-of-Towners (Part 5)

After the monumental day of meeting the family and learning the concept of a Basque ''lunch'' (noon-7pm) we decided to get back to the sightseeing track for Friday and headed across the border.  The Spanish/French border is only about 25 minutes from our place, and we decided that the adorable little beach towns on the French side deserved a visit.  With St. Jean de Luz as our destination, we hoped the clouds and rain would hold off long enough for us to see the city and that it did.

We parked, although a bit of confusion accompanied this process, but finally got situated and headed to the town market.  Although in France, we were still in Basque Country, so the town market's sign was in Euskera.  The market however was all too French - counters selling cheese of every kind imaginable, adorable breads with thier smell wofting through the air, delicious meats and sausages every other counter, vividly colorful fresh veggies and even a nice salesman who happened to speak some English.  Because of his jolly  manner we decided his stand was where we would buy the foie gras we have been looking for.  A few steps out of the market and we crossed another one, yet this one was outdoor.  With more cheese and veggies for our eyes to feast on, this time we got what my cousin calls 'nibbles' - little snack foods of olives!  A colorful array of choices made the decision difficult but with a few free tastes Cathy and Joseba decided on a mixed selection and some crushed black olives for later!  Yummy!

As we wandered through the little streets, we couldn't help but admire the gorgeous houses that lined the road.  All of them were built in the Basque style called 'iparralde' which means North in Euskera.  The houses in the French side of Basque Country often decorated thier white homes with red or green wooden frames and shutters which adds a gorgeous pop of color and character to them.  If I were to have a home here, I would love it to be decorated like that - hopefully someday!  Since it differs so much from the more grand and stone-worked style of Donostia, we were all in happy admiration as we maintained our Basque stroll speed throughout the town.

And who can pass up shops with shoes galore, gorgeous flower shops and the most dangerous of all - chocolate stores!  Being chocolate lovers all of us, we just had to stop in one that looked too tasty to pass up.  It was there that we had a lot of samples of a chocolate spread and gazed as the chocolate fountain and tasty little chocolate bits all over the store.  Turns out my name is pretty close to the word for almond in French - Amande!  It was almost enough for me to justify a purchase, but alas reason took over and with one more free sample I was good and we set off.

We reached the beach and when the sun decided to grace us with its presence, we were in heaven.  The buildings had so much personality - each one special in its own way.  From one with colored balls around its tower to the houses that had walkways directly to the boardwalk, each one was fun to look at.  I especially like the ones whose patios turn into front doors with the little bridge over the street below so they have direct beach access.  Genius!  I tried to imagine having one of those houses in the summer and how amazing it would be!  Not only were the beach bridges convenient, but they houses were so pretty and very Basque.  One even had stone sculptures of the ubiquitious Basque amona eta aitona (Grandma and Grandpa).  These faces are carved in so many things - wooden dressers, souvineers, and here even a house!  What's funny is that it's true, they really look Basque.  Nothing can make your home more authentic than a couple grandparents on the front!  Ha!

Weaving through the little streets we got to the little port, that on a cloudy Spring day wasn't too active but made for good pics.  Directly next to the port is a lovely large square with trees that soon will be blooming like crazy and a little covered area in the center of the plaza that was covered with flowers.  From all sides you can plop down and enjoy a meal at any one of the adorable café terraces.  In fact, when Cathy and Paul came to visit Joseba and me last time they had breakfast in one of these little cute places!  With a threat of rain overhead though, we decided an indoor lunch would probably serve us better and headed off to find something for our bellies.  Although not French in the slighest, we couldn't pass up the packed restaurant that was all Spanish-style!  After sitting down here we were, 3 Americans and a Basque in the French part of Basque Country eating a Spanish paella and listening to weird rock music!  But, with good food, good company and good wine, there were no complaints!

With our time ticking on the parked car, we soon after returned and headed back to the Spanish side to the coastal town of Hondarribia where I used to work.  The change between France and Spain is so slight that you only cross a bridge over a small river and voila you're in a different country.  What to us is more like crossing states is here changing countries!  In Hondarribia we were lucky to have my old workmate, Sean, come up and unlock the academy where I used to work to show Cathy and Grammy a bit of what I have been doing these last 4 years.  With bright green and orange as the color theme and 3 classrooms and a little 'cinema', I don't think it is exactly what they were expecting, but seeing as we don't really have language academies at home, I don't know what there would be to expect.  Seeing as it made up such a big part of my life until this year, it was nice to share it with them.

We set off to the Old Part to explore this gorgeous medieval and walled-in city but were caught up in the rain.  That didn't seem to be a problem though as we popped up our umbrellas.  Sean, just like his father did to me when I visited them in Scotland, took Grammy by the arm and began an afternoon-long personal tour!  Him holding the umbrella over them both, it was adorable to see her be given this special tour around the city - she was just too cute!  Eventually the rain got the best of us and we popped into a café for a beer/wine/cider.  Grammy and Cathy had taken very easily to the Basque drinks - txakoli (a young and refreshing white wine) and sidra (the somewhat sour cider that Basques have been making for years).  Over our drinks we chatted away and later jumped outside to see that Easter procession take place - which was part of the reason we came on this exact day.  Normally the Roman soilders parade through the street and soon after come big displays of Mary and Jesus carried by the churchpeople on thier shoulders.  Since it was so rainy though, the famous couple didn't 'rise' to the occasion, but the pink-tighted men paraded around for a bit for the umbrella-clad crowd.

When Sean's girlfriend Elena showed up we headed down to the newer part of town where a few 'iparralde' style houses line San Pedro Street in one of the most iconic parts of the town.  On a sunny day you can find Basque men seated on the benches all in almost identical clothes and thier boina hats.  And although it was rainy cats and dogs (that is according to me, Grammy said it was just sprinkling!) there were still Basque men out strolling and drinking wine.

Our destination was one of the best pintxo bars in the town - Gran Sol.  This place has won numerous pintxo contests with thier creations, one of which Joseba, Sean and Cathy tried - the Jaizkibel.  If it rings a bell it's because it is the name of the mountain that is near the city, one that Joseba and I went hiking on a couple weeks back.  Anyways, the pintxo was a huge mushroom topped with Spanish ham and a garlic mayo sauce that was to-die-for.  Accompanied with a glass of wine, you couldn't wish for anything more!

After darkness fell we had one more drink but after such a long and eventful day had to part ways.  With so many pintxos and drinks we weren't even hungry enough to have dinner and dropped Cathy and Grammy off at home.  However, they told me that they got home and had another glass of wine and some of the 'nibbles' we'd gotten at the market!  Good for them - living the vacation life to the max!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Outstanding Out-of-Towners (Part 4 - Cathy's Guest Blog)

Today Amanda requested me for a guest entry for her blog.  I have followed her many words these past years and my first thought is "yikes". . .  But then I immediately think of this most amazing time that we have just spent with her and Joseba here in San Sebastian and I think yes "this is easy".

My journey actually started almost exactly one year ago when Paul and I visited Amanda for the first time.  We would see her new home in Spain and meet a lovely young man that she had written about so often.  We were totally taken by this most interesting part of the world - beauty and culture in every direction.  And best of all we met Joseba - this man who would, in a few months, be her husband.  In our short time here we got acquainted, ate pinxtos, and learned the Basque stroll.  We were so excited that we could return home to report to the family that she was in very good hands - both with the country she had chosen and the man that would accompany her on life's journey.

From the moment I arrived home I knew in my heart that Auntie Hazel should have this same experience.  A few months later I asked Amanda her thoughts of a possible visit by Auntie and myself.  You can all imagine her reaction to the notion that Grammy might visit her in San Sebastian.  Next, was the question to Auntie . . . now affectionately referred to as Auntie/Grammy by Amanda and me, and of course, she was MOST excited too.  The plans were made and here we are.

We arrived nearly one week ago and from the moment we arrived Auntie has had a smile on her face that has not faded.  And I see the same joy in Amanda as well.   We have met Joseba's family, who opened their arms and embraced us in such a loving way.  We know they have been such an important part in Amanda's life here in Spain and have embraced and cared for her as their own.  We know that she is very special and it is obvious they feel this way too.

As we are nearing the end of our time here I am filled with joy that I was here to have this most glorious experience.  Amanda and Joseba have been the most perfect hosts to Auntie and me.  Each moment, whether organized or spontaneous,  was so carefully and lovingly orchestrated.  The "walking" tours, home cooked meals, road trips, pinxtos bars, and best of all the lunch with Joseba's family will be in my mind always.  Auntie has always been such an important person in my life and I am so happy that I was here to share this with her.

Auntie and I are sad that our time has come to an end here in San Sebastian but we know that we will see Amanda and Joseba in just a few months when they come to the United States for their visit.  So, our words at the airport will be a bit more palatable when we say "see you soon" rather than "good-bye".

Lots of maite (love) to Amanda and Joseba --  xoxo  Cousin Cathy

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Outstanding Out-of-Towners (Part 3)

After a night of face-stuffing and wine-drinking, we let Cathy and Grammy sleep in a little bit and then picked them up to head to Orio to do the same all over again.  Right out of the blocks and we were doing the big stuff - meeting the family!

Between all the sight-seeing we had planned for the week, I think that the idea of meeting my new family was at the top of Cathy and Grammy's list.  Joseba's whole family, especially his mother, have welcomed me into thier circle with open arms and big smiles and it has been really special to be incoroprated with such a great group.  It brings a smile to Grammy's heart knowing that there are people who love me just as much as the ones at home and make sure I'm well-looked-after.  She has heard all about his family and knows all the little details that make them so wonderful, so she was quite looking forward to seeing them in person.
 We headed off to Orio, the little fishing village everyone who reads the blog has heard so much about.  We showed them Joseba's old house, where he lived when we dated, where we go hiking, just little things from our lives, and although it was super foggy, the low-lying clouds couldn't steal the show from the adorable little town.

We arrived a bit early, very un-Basque-like of us, and headed to Bordatxo, the little bar where we had said we would meet up with my mother, brother and sister-in-law and little Irati, our neice.  When I saw them nearing the bar I got a bunch of butterflies in my stomach...this was a moment I never thought would happen and here it was unraveling before my eyes. 

Grammy and Maixus, Joseba's mom, embraced in a hug - a big one!  Maixus has always known how special Grammy is to me and made sure to weave her presence into our wedding and had also been looking forward to meeting this lady I speak so much about.  During the countdown to thier arrival she had sent a lot of messages saying she was excited and then upon thier arrival called to send her love before we even left the airport!

Although Grammy and Cathy don't speak Spanish or Basque and Maixus doesn't speak English, everyone smiles in the same language and the bar was full of teethy grins.  On top of her big heart, Maixus also brought two vivid orange roses for each Cathy and Grammy to welcome them.  They are still going strong on our dining room table now, babys breath and all!  Hugs and introductions all around and then later the conversations came because thankfully my brother and sister-in-law speak great English.

We soon headed to lunch - which just happened to be the place where Joseba and I had our wedding lunch/reception.  Grammy and Cathy were uber excited to see the place and even more so when we sat down (after waiting for a wedding inside to finish, coincidence??) and I pulled out two menus we had saved from our actual wedding day.  While the lunch options were not the same, the food was tasty as always.  Between salads that looked like works of art and pastries stuff with mushrooms for starters to the fish of the day and Grammy's ever-so-delicious lasagna, everyone was content with the meal.  Between courses and drinks, Grammy and Cathy presented Maixus with some gifts - such sweet visitors they were!  From Grammy's smell-good bath goodies and a lovely scarf that Maixus immediatley put on to Cathy's chocolate from her town of Ashland, OR and some tasty teas, there were even more hugs and pics!  The only thing that could make it better was dessert and boy was it delicious! 

Soon after finishing, we headed into town so we could show them the little town that Joseba has always called home.  We explored little plaza with tile work all about Orio's whale-hunting past, the massive stone church that pays respect to the village's fishing ties and the Old Part where Joseba's ancestors lived alongside the short buildings on the cobble-stone road.  We even managed to stop off at the Town Hall so they could see the spot where we came out after the wedding ceremomy and were received with the Basque Aurresku dance.

After another drink we had to part ways, tired but happy after an amazing day of two families, worlds apart, uniting and enjoying each other to the max.  It was a very special day that I know I will remember my whole life.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Outstanding Out-of-Towners (Part 2)

For their first offical day in San Sebastian, we decided to wander around so they could get a lay of the land, and plus it was quite sunny!  I woke up and headed over early in the morning to have the morning coffee with them along with some breakfast.  The apartment had served them well for the first night and Grammy even slept so well she wasn't awake when I arrived!  After years and years of Grammy waking me up, I had the pleasure of waking her up 'Grammmmmmmy' :)  I bet she didn't expect that!

Cathy on the other hand had been up for hours and was hustling all around the apartment to get the breakfast ready!  Turns out I am the only one who takes sugar with her coffee, but they love me anyways. 

When they got around we headed out to Cathy's favorite little breakfast spot that we went to last time she was here - Barrentxe, a little bakery in the Plaza Gipuzkoa.  On the way we passed so much beauty that a walk that normally takes 10 minutes took oh so much longer!  You can't possibly pass the Buen Pastor church with its spire to the sky and not stop to admire it and go in to see if it is as pretty from the inside as out - which it is. 

Each street was lined with trees bursting with white flowers and sometimes with a slight gust of wind a sheet of petals would dance to the ground as we walked.  If the petals weren't falling they were just so beautiful that they deserved a photo as they stood out against the tan sandstone buildings.  The rod-iron balconies each with a different design, the flowers hanging out the flower boxes, the well-dressed ladies strutting by - each thing was worthy of a look and exciting for eyes that were new to the city.

We made it to the bakery but then ran into a problem - with many different types of baked on site each day and tasty plates of croissants, chocolate treats and breakfast muffins and rolls, it was tough to decide what to eat!  Eventually we sat down with our yummy breakfast and our café con leche to wake up right. 

Being Easter week the windows and display cases were stuffed with choclate bunnies and delictable eggs, although Mr. Easter Bunny himself doesn't really play part in the religious way that the locals celerbate the holiday.  It appealed to the American in us though!

We continued our strolling, always making sure to look up from time to time to appreciate the old-style beauty of the buildings - their cornices, balconies, stone-work, flowers and more.  Being a weekday morning, the outdoor farmer's market was in full-swing.  Walking onto the Boulevard, the main drag, Cathy and Grammy were able to recognize where we were and that we had been there the night before chomping down on pintxos.  This time instead of artistic snacks on bread we were able to stare at the bright colors of the fresh veggies that graced the tables.  From strange shaped tomatoes to eggs that were stacked many cartons high, they were able to see the city in action. 
 While greens make a good meal we couldn't miss checking out the fish market where massive entire fish are laid out - octopus, crab, live lobsters, monkfish, shrimp, the works - all there for your eyes to feast on!  Drastically different from the fresh food fair we had been seeing, they were incredibly shocked at the frozen food store.  We are not talking frozen food like TV dinners or anything, because this place really just has food, but it's frozen.  Do you want a half a pound of frozen peas?  Well, here you can just scoop them up like the bulk section of American grocery stores.  How about some chopped onions?  Ready for the taking too!  They were shocked and had never seen such a thing which gave me a good chuckle as it is something I have become used to.

Wandering up and down the pedestrian streets of the Old Part we passed many a pintxo bar, gorgeous houses, cute clothing shops, meat markets, my first apartment (which warranted a photo), the main plaza and more.  We continued our destinationless walking, also known as the Basque Stroll, throughout town gazing left and right.  We made it all the way to the port and walked along the Concha Beach when we realized a few miles for the first day was probably enough and headed to the grocery store to get them supplies for the week to come. 
Shopping in a foreign country is always a hoot - not understanding what you're buying, purchasing soley based on the photo on the box, getting lost in the store - those are all parts of the intial shopping trip!  Grammy and Cathy were quite experts though and we got their stuff along with a few bottles of must-needed wine to stock the shelves and headed back to the apartment. 

They were able to put thier feet up for a few hours and then Joseba dropped by after work and picked them up so they could come and see our home!  Grammy had been pretty excited to see where we live our life, so even the entry to our main door was a treat for her.  Little did she know, Chef Joseba had a lot of treats up his sleeve.  What they really got a kick out of though in our building was the interior clothes hanging area.  Obvioiusly not something we have at home, I guess it is kind of funny to look out your window and see your neighbor's undies!  Ask either one of them about it and they will probably start laughing. 
After the grand tour of our little apartment we patiently waited for our scrumptous meal and entertained ourselves with Skype calls to the fam, photo book looking and some wine.  Joseba pulled out all the stops - chorizo pintxos, spanish ham and later a massive salad with the works - turkey, cheese, tomatoes, and even...sea snakes!  Grammy ate them without a word!  And the best is that she thought they were tasty!  I only told her what they were after she had eaten them but when I started to explain, she already knew - she's a quick one! 

We also nibbled on some Basque cheese and membrillo to finish the meal off nicely.  When 1 o'clock rolled around, Grammy couldn't believe she was burning the midnight oil and seeing as it was only thier first day we thought we'd let them get some rest because the following day was going to be an important one - meeting the fam! 

More to come soon!  Muxu!