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Travelling to Idaho can be really astonishing. I was surprised by quite a few things and I must say I was surprised even before I got there. First, I was shocked when my boss at that time told me that, “since I was preparing a trip to the US, I could jump to Idaho to meet a couple of clients”. I was surprised about the fact of going to Idaho itself, a state I could not even place in a map at that time. And I was also surprised because her “jump to Idaho” meant an almost five hours flight, from New York (where I was arranging my trip and staying for a couple of weeks), including a stepover in Salt Lake City.
So there I was, in New York City on a Saturday evening, enjoying some hours before waking up at 4am to go to the airport and fly to Boise. I love NY and I must say I was even upset that I had to leave in the morning and be absent for two days.
After almost four hours flying, I landed in Salt Lake City. It was a very short stepover. In fact, I had to run from one flight to the other. But I was very surprised by the amount of mormons everywhere. I mean, by these young ones, with a badge on their white shirt. I guess they were getting ready to fly all over the country (and overseas) to sell their God.
So I arrived to Idaho and was very surprised again. I did not see any mormons here. In fact, I did not see almost anyone. Ok, I guess Boise is a small town, nothing compared to NY, Los Angeles or Chicago but the airport was almost empty! Yes, it was a Sunday but I don’t think this gets much busy on a weekday. I got my bag and I walked outside the terminal to get a cab. There were no cabs. I did only find one shuttle bus to some hotel. I asked the driver and he told me to wait as “someone should come”. So it did. I got into a cab and moved to the Grove Hotel. A very short ride, the aiport is about ten kilometres away from downtown.
I registered and went upstairs just to leave my stuff. I had slept about five hours on the last two days but I wanted to stay awake as long as possible and try to go to sleep at night, Boise time. I was suffering a nine hours time difference, from Barcelona.
It was lunch time so, after finding out I was located very downtown (not much difference with other areas), I left the hotel looking for an interesting place to eat. I always try to eat outside. I do not like hotel restaurants at all and find room service very sad. So, unless we are -25ºC, it is raining a lot or it is 3 in the morning, I always go out. You can easily find real local food, discover new places and meet interesting (or not) people.
And only then I became astonished: I had, right in front of me, the Basque Block! Honestly, I was not aware. At all. But it happens to be that, since the end of the XIX Century, Idaho became one of the most popular destinations for Basques, not only in America but also all over the world. I saw one Basque flag. Then a second one. And a third one and so on. Located downtown, between Capitol Boulevard, 6th Street and the Grove, you can find the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, two hostels, the Basque Market and the Basque Association. And two restaurants: the Leku Ona and the Gernika Bar and Eatery. I visited both of them but I had only lunch at the second one, the Gernika. The place was really nice, staff was great and the food, superbe. I enjoyed a lovely “Solomo Sandwich”: marinated pork loin with grilled red peppers on a baked french roll. Delicious. And the rest of the menú looked also really great.
Once my belly was happy and after a nice walk, I made a terrible mistake: I went up to my room and decided to take a little nap. I woke up about eight hours later, at almost 10pm. So I went then to the Leku Ona, had some light dinner and walked back to the hotel. Needless to say I did not sleep at all during the night. I was supposed to meet some people at the lobby, at 8 am but I was having breakfast before 7 am and had plenty of time.
Breakfast was simply great. It is normally like that in good hotels, yes. But, here, besides all the usual stuff, they were offering a very large variety of potatoes. I found, then, that potatoes were the pride of the State. They boiled them, fried them, baked them… they prepared wedges, mashed potatoes, roasted ones… A bit heavy for breakfast, maybe, but quite good.
No joke. The Idaho Potato Commission established in 1937 to promote potatoes and protect the “Grown in Idaho” seal since 1957. They are worth $2,7 Billion to the Idaho economy every year and employ more than 39000 people.
Shame that the Idaho Potato Museum is not in Boise but in Blackfoot, more than 400 kms far. And I am sure it is one of the most interesting things to do (in Blackfoot, at least) but, right after my last meeting, I had to collect my things from the Grove Hotel, head to the airport and fly back to New York City.
Somehow, it was pleasant to find out that, again, the airport was very quiet, the flight was smooth and New York City, as usual, was great.