Ailyn and I connected on Instagram because not only did we both land an internship at FremantleMedia North America, but we also lived in the same part of the San Fernando Valley. Hard work really paid off later on when we were both then nominated and accepted into the inaugural year of The Academy's Academy Gold Intern Program. We car pooled to work, to Academy weekend screenings, and this afforded us time to both bond as friends and really become each other's anchors in our summer in entertainment. I have 1000 percent faith that when I become a media personality Ailyn has my legal back.
This past week, I turned a recurring joke into a reality. I, along with some good friends from Norwich, came to visit Ailyn in her corner of Spain for a week full of sightseeing, great food, and incredibly priced drunks.
Bilbao is in the north region of Spain, and it is on the border to France. Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country, and the fifth-largest urban area in Spain. Some of Bilbao’s attractions include the Guggenheim museum, Casca Viejo, the colorful city where we stayed, and La Alhondiga. Unlike my trips to places like London or Rome, I allotted more time for my stay in Bilbao. I was there from Thursday until Saturday. With 2 full days, I was able to balance tourist and exploratory experiences in well.
I came to Spain with my friends Hannah, Shyla, and Katy, and we were the Fantastic Four of travel buddies! The girls and I were always willing to get lost and find something interesting. Luckily, we did not always have to wander because Ailyn found us and showed us around to her favorite spots in Bilbao.
My first day in Bilbao was breathtaking. Everyone we met stressed how gorgeous the week was. It was. The sun was bright, and this highlighted the beauty of the old city and its multicolored edifices and the abundance of flowers. Thursday morning was amazing because we found a nearby place that served breakfast, and we were introduced to the best orange juice we had ever had. If you ever go to Spain, make sure you order OJ! After that, we made our way back to the old city for some light shopping. I fell in love with this fringed denim jacket and I swore I had to leave with it. But, my credit card, and mom, said otherwise.
When we met up with Ailyn it was in a plaza near us, and I could not believe it was her in the flesh. We all did some quick introductions, and she wasted no time in introducing us to real Spanish sangria.
That sangria cannot be described in words, but I will try because if I cannot write then what will I do with my life?
The sangria we got was tart, thanks to the actual lime and lemons bits chopped in. It was refreshing and sweet. It was potent as hell. After just a glass, Ailyn and I messaged each other, “Are you spinning too?!” Just like the OJ, a Spanish sangria is a MUST do.
While we are on the topic of food, let me share the greatest Spanish dish I tried. In Latinx culture, a tortilla is made from wheat or corn. However, in Spain a tortilla is a mixture of eggs and potatoes molded into a cake shape. IT IS DELICIOUS! During my stay in Bilbao I had 3 types of tortilla and my palate never got bored.
In Spain, the biggest meal is dinner. Dinner cuisine in Spain is also what Americans would consider breakfast, like eggs, potato, and pancakes. The food culture in Spain is all about eating small portions throughout the day. This is why the siesta is so important, and this is when you take advantage and try all the different pinxtos available. Spain and Rome both have a huge food culture, and it was interesting comparing the two. In Rome, meals are a ritual and they seem to dictate how people organize their day. In Spain, food is more casual but still expected to be a respected time of relaxation and camaraderie.
As you can probably tell, food was a huge part of this trip. Of course, we went clubbing and to bars, but the quality time we shared with each other was over our meals. From ox tail, to payata, and Spanish wine, our appetites lead this trip. I loved coming to a place where I had a friend to guide me. Ailyn knew what to get and where to get it! Her friends also helped us find some really tasty places, where drinks were also incredibly good. The vodka lemonade in Spain is served in something like a goblet, so I have no reason to complain when its only 2 euros.
I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to be abroad in England, and I am truly blessed to have the ability to travel throughout Europe. Thank you to my travel buddies, to Ailyn for leading us, and to the good vibes and good friends I have everywhere that continue to help me do great things like this.
Author William Samayoa
Marketer by profession and storyteller by passion. L.A. raised, proud Latino, and pop culture enthusiast.