An ode to traveling and hospitality

I met Edurne and Raul in 2015 when they hosted me through couchsurfing in their cozy wee attic flat in Bilbao. It's from them that I learned about the magical place of Gaztelugatxe. Thanks to their advice, my time alone with the beauty of this marvelous spot remained a particularly memorable moment of the whole trip.

Over the last eight years the threads of our travels intertwined in unpredictable and unexpected ways although we did not communicate much with Edurne and Raul after my journey to the Basque Country.

Shortly before the pandemic, in December 2019, I arrived in Jerusalem. Edurne and Raul saw my Facebook check-in message and swiftly responded with their location which, as it turned out, I could almost see from my window. And there we were – eating falafel outside of the Damascus gate and discussing plans for their trip in Israel. Actually they had no definite plan and were open to my numerous travel suggestions. We ended up visiting my friend and watching the sunset over the Sea of Galilee from his balcony.

In September 2021 when I was walking Camino de Santiago from Porto Edurne and Raul turned up in a van to pick me up in Tui, my first stop in Spain. Never a particularly devoted pilgrim, I was easily persuaded to travel by van along the Galician coast, trying delicious seafood and looking for shells on white sand beaches. After that I continued walking alone but with warm memories of that special time spent with my Basque friends.

Finally, in 2022 I greeted Edurne and Raul in our house in Celorico da Beira. It was probably the last place in Portugal they wanted to visit, but they drove a couple of extra miles to see me. And this was in December, which was a sacrifice in itself. Insulation is virtually non-existent in rural Portugal, and indoor temperatures can easily drop to 11 degrees in winter. Kitchen was the only space in the house with humane conditions, so we used it as a base. It wasn't super comfy, but between herbal tea and red wine we shared some wisdom about travel and life. During the day we left the cold and humidity of our humble abode and enjoyed a hike to our favorite huge rock formations.

In sunny September 2023 I brought my partner to Bilbao to see Edurne and Raul, our Basque sister and brother. The five days we spent with them were filled with unforgettable moments. We climbed Pagasarri, an iconic mountain that can be seen from everywhere in Bilbao. We went skinny dipping in secret natural pools by the ocean. We saw extraordinary flysch formations on the long sandy Sopelana beach. And most importantly, we had endless talks and laughs, which brought us even closer.

Viva hospitality!
Viva friendship!
Viva traveling!