Be at Gau Zuria 2019

Bilbao Ayuntamiento white night.jpg

This past weekend I spent two nights in Bilbao. I usually only go out to Bilbao on Fridays, so this was out the ordinary for me. Why was I in Bilbao for two nights in a row? Well, this weekend, June 14th and 15th was the birthday of the city. At Gau Zuria or White Night in Basque, Bilbao lights up. Little by little, I am learning Basque gau meaning night and zuria meaning white. This year the city turned 719 years old.

Throughout Bilbao, there were 31 different light and sound shows. On the first night, I walked around with my British friend, Matt. The light shows were on structures or projections on significant buildings along the river and in the city center. The lights were interactive as well as picturesque or downright trippy.

There were a few I wanted to go to but ended up missing them. For example, a garden turned into a mystic fantasy land, stone steps that illuminated a river and an inflatable tunnel straight out of Alice and Wonderland. Matt and I got hungry and tired from walking around all night. We decided to go to our old stomping grounds for late night kebabs, where we have become regulars.

This weekend also lined up with two other events on Saturday. In the afternoon I headed into the city with my friend Holly for the Festival of Rice. After finding parking, we first headed into Old Town to join with Holly's talented photographer friend, Bego (Her portraits are pretty awesome) and her friend Derric. To make ordering easy, we made a bote. Here when you go out with a group, it is common for everyone to put the same amount of money into the "bote." Then a single person is in charge of ordering. Having a bote makes it easier and less complicated than taking turns paying for rounds, especially if the entire group is drinking the same thing.

It was a reasonably warm day, and white wine was calling our names. Then after some wines, we strolled to the festival, just across the river.

fish market Bilbao.jpg

Funny enough, it took place in one of my new favorite districts, San Francisco. We arrived a tad late so we missed the market where you can buy rice from around the world. But, on the upside, we arrived just in time for a taste of some free Paella. Somehow I was given a considerable serving with a whole chunk of chicken!

The Festival of Rice zone was a bit crowded. So, we went to Arechaga, a well-known street in the neighborhood. On Arechaga there is a tasty Portuguese bar and restaurant called El Laterío. Here you can drink refreshing Vinho Verde or "green wine," or if you prefer a craft beer, you can go across the ally to Bihotz. Craft beer and coffee is slowly making its way here in the Basque country, and I am thinking of dedicating an entire post about it.

While hanging out in the sunny street, a well-known gentleman was singing and performing. This guy has a ton of energy and is the life of the party on Arechaga street. Holly told me that once he crashed a house party and started singing. Apparently, no one cared, and he did his performance like he was meant to be there.

San Francisco Bilbao Street Performer .jpg

This weekend was also the BBK concert festival in the Deusto district. Yes, it was a busy weekend in Bilbao. While it would have been interesting to watch the Beach Boys here in Spain, we didn't have tickets. Thankfully the pick-up and drop off location for the event had music playing as well, so we reconnected with the group.

We killed some time there before it got dark. Finally, it was time for the main event, the dragon fireboat performance.