Today was declared a shopping day. Susie had drawn up a list and we had two empty backpacks and two almost empty bank accounts. We walked over the bridge, down in the very thoughtfully placed lift provided for exhausted retired travellers and a short stroll to the tram stop. We love Bilbao’s trams. Clean, quiet and efficient. Less than ten minutes later we were in the ‘Casa Viejo’ or Old Town.
A very helpful lady at the tourist information office had helped Susie draw up a list of shops selling the ‘best’ olive oil. One of them was on our map. Could we find it? No, of course not. We spied a tea shop (loose, not to sit and sip) and after buying some green mint tea, she pointed us in the direction of the oil shop. Nope, still couldn’t find it. Susie asked in another three shops and we criss crossed a maze of streets. Finally a shopkeeper took us round the corner of the street where we’d begun and it was there in front of us. In fairness, we don’t think it was open when we went past before. Six bottles of gold medal winning oil went into our backpacks (four in mine, two in Susie’s) and off we headed, back across the river towards the more commercial part of town.
Susie has always had a ‘thing’ about Issey Miyake clothes. She bought her first items in Japan nearly 40 years ago and still wears them, which says a lot about their unique style. We’d located a boutique called Persuade which offered a range of his collection. What a wonderful shop. What a wonderful owner, Andrea. She helped Susie choose items, made suggestions and above all let her take her time to try them on. All the time I sat dutifully outside the changing room, making helpful and sometimes unhelpful remarks when Susie emerged in differing outfits. In the end a selection of items were chosen in which Susie looks beautiful.
We wandered up to El Cortes Ingles (after walking into the one in Seville as well, perhaps they should offer us shares). We found a place on the seventh floor for lunch and the waitress met us at the door. Would we like to eat in the cafeteria or the restaurant, she asked. Did she not know our reputation? The meal (in the restaurant) was very good and included a ‘copa’ of beer which I really could have done without.
Burdened down with purchases and topped up tummys, we made our way to the river and a tram stop which would take us back to the nearest point to our hotel. Bilbao is an easy place to get round, though we were grateful that we’d discovered the tram. A museum day tomorrow we think.
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