Well, this trip will go down in the annals as a fight against Nature.
I often get the opportunity to take people to Rioja to learn about the region, its wines and the great food. And we had all of that! Despite dire warning about rain and cold winds, both Bilbao and Briones were pretty nice while we were there.
We had a great dinner on arrival in Bilbao in El Museo del Vino de Bilbao, and *some* people enjoyed a relaxing drink and the music in the Antigua Cigarerria bar.
Then the rain clouds magically disappeared when we arrived in Rioja the next day, and we had some lovely views over the vineyards with their beautiful Autumn gold & red colours, and a chance to walk around a few at Dinastia Vivanco.
The problem was that fickle, indecisive Nature first tried to scupper our plans to fly out, then refused to let us come home!
On our way to Stansted Airport on Tuesday, the wind caused a tree to fall on a power line and halted all trains. There were 19 people booked on the trip, half were stuck at various stations back along the line to Liverpool Street. Oh the joys of British train track maintenance and safety! Anyway, the problem was solved by increasingly greedy taxi drivers (the first ones charged normal rates, but as they realised that folks would be claiming, the prices charged skyrocketed from £32 for a whole taxi, to £40 EACH in a taxi of 4!!)
Having got to Spain, and enjoyed a great trip, we were then ready to come home. As we approached Bilbao airport, we noticed a few flashes of lightning appearing out of the blue. We thought nothing of it, nor the fire engine parked next to our EasyJet plane we were supposed to be boarding.
However, boarding time came and went, then the announcement came that we were delayed for "technical reasons". It turns out it was because the plane was struck by the lightning on its approach to landing (apparently quite dramatically, with electricity hitting the flightdeck and even "appearing" under the pilots door into the cabin). It meant that repairs of some sort were needed. Communication was DIRE by staff on the ground and the airline, and they FINALLY cancelled the flight at 11:45 JUST in time to head back after all restaurants were closed. Fortunately, a few telephone calls later, and a bit of cabbie 'local intelligence', we got a sandwich and a beer, and came home today.
Nothing too dramatic, but it did feel, for a time, like someone didn't want us to get on a plane.
I wonder how "visits to vineyards via skype" will develop from here?
Enjoy some early photos!