It’s Day 2 in Spain for Phakaaathi writer Tshepo Ntsoelengoe. What has he been up to?
READ: Tshepo Ntsoelengoe’s diary
It was an early morning for myself and the rest of the journalists. Today we checked out from Bilbao’s Miro hotel shifting to the capital of the Basque country Vitoria, where you find another Basque team playing in LaLiga, Alaves before we headed to Mendizorrotza Stadium and wrapped up the day by watching a Euro League basketball game.
On the way, we had to make a stop at one of the traditional and smallest team’s in the Spanish top-tier SD Eibar.
Like many of the Basque teams, Eibar also has a rich and interesting history. The club has been playing in top-flight football for six years now and they have spent most of their times playing in the lower leagues since their inception in 1940.
The first time it got promoted to LaLiga was back in 2014, but they had to go through some struggles with the Spanish law obliging the club to increase their capital in order to compete in the top league.
Because of financial difficulties, they decided to do crowdfunding and luckily got to raise funds and met the requirements to play in LaLiga. The story behind this club is quite intriguing and their home ground named Impurua is quite iconic as well.
If there is one thing I will probably miss about Spain, it will have to be the food. These guys will feed you until you literally don’t have any space in your stomach. We went out for lunch at Artola restaurant where they serve some traditional Spanish dishes. One thing I noticed again about this place is that each and every meal they have goes with bread. It doesn’t matter if it’s rice, salad or whatever, bread has to be there. I found it a bit weird but they enjoy it that way.
Back on the road we headed to Vitoria, checked in at one of the top hotels that side before going on a city tour. The place is so quiet and nice that one of the journalists from India said to me it would make a perfect retirement home because it’s so peaceful.
The next stop was at Estadio Mendizorrotza, the home of Deportivo Alaves. Quite a beautiful ground with a capacity of just over 20,000. The ground is also open to the locals for track running, swimming and other sporting codes.
Just a couple of years ago, Alaves were going through some tough times financially before being saved by the Baskonia group, who took over the club from the second division with a 20 million Euros debt to the first division and now the club is now debt-free. They model themselves as a business and are always looking for opportunities with their aim being to maintain their League status and to sell players. The group also has a local basketball team called Baskonia playing in the Euro League.
We got a chance to watch the team playing their League game at Buesa Arena a bit later as they went on to win 79 – 65 against French side Asvel.
Overall, the day was sort of a road-trip, visiting Eibar and ending the night at Vitoria. Day 3 will be another exciting venture as we head to San Sebastian where we will check-in at another hotel and get to visit Real Sociedad a day after they knocked out Barcelona in the King’s Cup ahead of the Basque derby against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Tshepo Ntsoelengoe is currently on tour in Spain, courtesy of LaLiga
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