We meet our personable escort Pablo and leave Bilbao at a very sensible noon hour. We drive south to Vitoria founded towards the end of the 12th Century. Today it is an award-winning ‘green city’, a model of eco-sustainability with its parks and planted environs.
Among the ‘pilgrims’ are my cousin Jennifer and her husband David, who have two surprises for the group. David has hand enamelled Scallop Shells with a red cross, the symbol of the Camino, and has one for each of us. On their travels in France prior to joining up with us, they also bought other little scallop shell medals at the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalen of Vézelay in Burgundy. Father Steve blesses them invoking the Virgin to keep watch on all of us as we take on our own personal journeys over the next days.
The La Rioja wine-growing region is now among the world’s best producers of fine wine, and we are staying in the Hotel of the best winemaker, the Marqués de Riscal, another creation of American Architect, Frank Gehry.
The hotel is located in the middle of the vineyards and features an even more colorful version of his famed ribboned titanium façade used in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. In this creation, Gehry has tinted the titanium with purple from the wine, gold from the cup, and silver from the distinctive net that covers each bottle of the Marqués de Riscal wine.
That’s it! Everybody’s out drinking wine while I’m here talking to myself. You may have to rely on reading captions under photos to get the story over the next few days.