In April, I had the pleasure of hanging out with my good friend Dave during his visit to Spain. Dave had just completed the Boston Marathon before flying over to the Iberian peninsula. He was also in between jobs, so this was his last chance to enjoy extended freedom for a little while. Although he had been to Spain once before, he had only visited Barcelona, so he was excited to explore Madrid and other parts of the country.
We met up in Madrid, where we indulged in cañas and tapas at the Plaza Mayor and near the Palacio Real. We also went on a bus sightseeing tour and enjoyed a run in the Parque de El Retiro. From Madrid, we took an express train to my home city of Pontevedra, in Galicia.
At the train station in Madrid, we met Sonia, a Spaniard wearing a Boston Marathon shirt who had run the race the same day as Dave! We were surprised and delighted to meet someone who had shared in Dave’s marathon experience. Dave and Sonia chatted for a few minutes and exchanged stories about the race.
In Pontevedra, we went for multiple walks as I showed Dave some of the places I frequent. He even got a haircut at Barbería JC, my favorite barbershop. It was his first trim that he ever had outside of the United States.
Once Andrea returned from an intense 24-hour shift at her hospital, we all went out for cañas at La Botica. Afterward, we had dinner at a restaurant called Nonna Clara and ate Sicilian pizza, which is a favorite of mine and Andrea. It features thin slices of potato and red onions in a tomato sauce on a thin crust that is baked just right. Happily, Andrea’s former coworker Gloria was able to join us. Like Andrea and Gloria, Dave is a medical doctor.
Dave and I had planned to participate in La Road Pontevedra, a hilly road bike event that used to be called 4 Picos. But it was going to rain all day and Dave’s legs were not completely recovered from the grueling marathon. Dave knew he was not going to enjoy the ride, so we decided not to do it.
Instead, after having breakfast with Andrea, Dave and I took a bus to Porto, Portugal, where we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, great food, and views of the Rio Douro. One morning, we did a long run, with me running just over 13.1 miles and Dave running 10. I have a new goal of running a half-marathon in every country in the European Union, and Portugal is now the second one checked off the list. (The other one is Spain, of course.)
From Porto, we traveled to San Sebastian, where we had a nice lunch across the road from the beach and went for a walk and an afternoon run before meeting up with our friends Antxon and Vicky. In their town of Astigarraga south of San Sebastian, we dined at a sidreria. Here we enjoyed cider being poured out of barrels and bottles, and a feast of delicious food. Antxon had taken me to the same place two years ago, but Vicky couldn’t come that day due to suffering from the strong side effects of the COVID booster. We all thoroughly enjoyed this traditional Basque experience.
My visit with Dave was a blast, and we both enjoyed exploring different parts of Spain and Portugal. Afterward, Dave flew to Finland to meet some relatives while I returned home to Galicia. It was a memorable visit with a good friend, and I’m grateful for the time we spent together.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to do another adventure elsewhere in the world. For example, we both want to complete the Marathon Majors (Antxon too). That would be so cool if we could meet up for that.