Be in Lamiako
Before any big event, it is smart to prepare and warm up. Whether it is athletic like a big race or in this case, the big parties like Running of the Bulls and the Grand Weeks, you need to train your body. This summer party line up will not be a sprint but a marathon. To have the best and safest experience, pacing drinks and late nights walking home will be necessary. And a friend of my roommate, Jaunchi, told me, "Fiesta de Lamikao will be great first warm up."
Be in the Fiesta Zone
Neighborhood parties are like Art and Wine/Beer festivals combined with fair food you can go to in the U.S during the fall, just bigger and longer. Like at the Art and Wine/Beer festivals of the Bay Area, pop-up bars are set up in the street called "Txosnas." You can order beer or wine mixed with Coke-a-Cola in a Basque drink called Kalimotxo. For only a few euros, you can get a big gulp size cup of this Caffeine and alcohol combination, just what you need to have a good time and stay out all night. To be a true local, you can also buy the reusable plastic festival cups that typically have the parties name on them. Or you can go the youngin route and pre-buy your favorite combination of drinks and mix on site. It's normal to see young groups of cuadrillas in circles with plastic bags of either cheap wine and coke or cheap beer and Kaz(a lemon fizzy drink) making their own Kalimotxo or Radler.
There are also big food stands where you can fill your belly with French Fries, Kababs, grilled Lomo (pork) sandwiches and of course churros. For the kids, there are a few carnival games and rides. Finally, there is at least one stage for late night concerts.
Like I wrote in the first post of this series, every town has a story. In this case, I learned some interesting facts about Lamikao from my roommate's friend. Historically, Lamikao was a village of witches. For a cultural performance paying homage to this history, members of the community danced jumped over and wrestled on stilts around a bonfire. This performance also took place inside the first fútbol arena in Bilbao and where Bilbao Athletic played its first match. A mural of the team is painted on the stucco wall facing the Metro. I have frequently seen this mural on my way home from the city and have always wondered its significance.
I didn't have the best view, and I was using my phone, but here are a few short clips of the performance. Also While I have yet to get it on film, in between acts, there might be a battle of who has the best "irrintzi" or Basque war cry. I was told this war cry in the olden days was used to communicate from mountain to mountain.
After watching the performance, the real fiesta began. The next few hours we listened to the main concert and drank a few more drinks, there might have been a few chupitos (1/2 if that shots) as well. My roommate and his friend had left because it was getting late. But I hung out for a bit longer.
At the end of the night, I caved and ordered a massive stack of fries to absorb the drinks and headed to the metro. I was under the impression the Summer hours had gone into effect, so I thought I was covered. Unfortunately, I was a week off. Luckily, it was a warm night, and it is very safe here. I figured I could walk to the Bidezabal metro and arrive close to 6 am when the subway re-opens. It took me a little less than 2 hours to walk and created a funny end of the night. It was also excellent training for any future long walks back home or where I am sleeping for the night.
Be curious. Be courageous. Be chivalrous.