“You can ask the conductor, but hmmph,” said the ticket agent. The conductor let me come in to the train, when I asked if there was any room for one more passenger. Yes, come this way, so I flopped my bag up into the luggage rack and settled into a seat in the Turista section. A few minutes passed, and then I heard the conductor say “Le Anglaise!” and I knew my time was up. “Sorry, but you have to go,” he said, waving his hand toward the door. “We are full.” I asked if he could at least let me ride until the first stop, San Sebastian, and he agreed.
So I found myself in this seaside city for the night and the next night when I could make the trip using the reservation I now had for the following date’s trip. I found myself a room at an inexpensive hotel and then set out into the city around 10 pm. Just a few blocks of walking near the Hotel Londres and I was belly up to a bar filled with pinxhos, lots of delicious small treats on plates. All around me people were having fun, laughing, enjoying snacks, quaffing down wine.
I had my fill including a delicious stuffed pepper, some shrimp on skewers and anchovy-wrapped peppers, and then wandered into a bar a few doors down. After a few more bites, a cider, which the bartender pours into the glass from two feet up and I was feeling great. It was like the way they pour tea in certain Japanese ceremonies. I hung out in one bar and then at about 12 midnight I heard some good music so I ventured down into basement room called Bar Basque. A bartender worked in front of bottles that included just about every brand of hard liquor you could buy. People began to stream in and the music never varied from 1980s pop. Madonna, Abba, so many of the old hits.
The people were energized and more and more arrived, glamorous women, jovial men, and they were swirling dancing and laughing as the hits just kept on coming. What a place, what great music, boy had I found the right place! But it was like being invisible, and in some ways comforting, and other ways I felt like an alien. No one noticed me there at the bar, grooving to the tunes.
I thought about what fun it would have been to get a rental car and cruise down the coast…and see places like Bilbao with its famous Guggenheim museum, and perhaps at the right time of year, visit Pamplona in July and see the running of the bulls. For this, I would have been wise to consult with an old and familiar company, who I’ve rented cars from many times in the past. Enterprise Rent-a-car. They now rent cars in six European countries including Spain, and they offer North American travelers 10% off. The best part though is that it’s Enterprise, a company that most Americans know well by now. Find a rental car in Spain for your next adventure, wherever it might be!