One of the greatest things about living (and traveling) in the age of the Internet is the existence of such organizations as CouchSurfing.org. Couch Surfing is an international organization that connects travelers world-wide in a variety of ways. As the name suggests, by joining, you can list an available “couch” (or bed, floor space, etc.) in your home to accommodate travelers passing through.
Apart from the accommodation aspect, Couch Surfing (CS) provides fabulous opportunities to connect with people from all over the world within your own local community. There are specialized sub-groups within each city for connecting people with similar interests, like photography, cycling and cooking. I joined CS Bilbao’s Hiking and Rural excursion group back in November, and it has been one of the best things about my time here thus far. It’s a priceless chance to practice my Spanish and learn more about the Basque Country while making friends with like-minded, active people. A wonderful fusion!
Last week on Saturday, the group organized a trip to Orduña, a small town nestled in the mountains about 25 miles southwest of Bilbao. It was a great international mix of Bilbao-based Couch Surfers: a lot of Spaniards and Basques, a couple Germans, a Costa Rican and three Americans.
We arrived in Orduña and headed straight for Belatz Gorri, a tavern known for it’s national award-winning tortilla española (one of my fave foods in the world too…bonus!) It would seem more logical to wait until after the hike to treat ourselves, but we were forewarned that, especially on a Saturday, there might not be any left if we didn’t get it right away.
With sunshine on our faces and tortilla in our bellies, we began our ascent of the mountains surrounding the village. We took a break to take in the breathtaking views of the canyon and waterfall:
We stopped for some lunch on the balcony at the canyon’s edge:
…and then had an impromptu magic show performed by the very talented and hilarious Asier:
We got side-tracked by a slack-lining sesh on our way back down:
It was a day full of great conversation and laughter in the great outdoors. And that is my kind of day.