In general, things are smaller in Europe. Houses, cars, food portions, elevators, refrigerators, streets, and waistlines, to name a few.
There’s one exception: Baby strollers.
Life for Basque babies has never been better. It is currently the parenting trend to transport your infant in the stroller equivalent of an 8-cylinder gas-guzzling Hummer. If your stroller doesn’t include 6 separate storage compartments, a custom rain cover, a built-in waterbed and 600-thread count douvet, then your daughter isn’t getting the care she deserves. I’ve seen some with an attachment on the back where the older sibling can ride while the mother pushes. The phrase “sleep like a baby” takes on new meaning here, as even on sunny days, infants are tucked into a sort of sleeping bag inside their carriage that provides maximum comfort and dream-inducing warmth.
What’s more, it is absolutely your responsibility to get the hell out of the way of these SUVs. If you see one heading towards you on a narrow alleyway, it’s up to you to flatten yourself against the wall or risk being run over. But don’t expect to receive even a nod of gratitude for generously ceding the path—you’re not the one pushing this 8-ton vehicle, after all, and moms won’t give you undeserving acknowledgement.
When walking to private lessons some afternoons, I quite literally alter my route to avoid the preschool that gets out at the same time. Between the screaming toddlers and the parents with newborns in strollers, it’s more crowded than L.A.’s 405 at rushhour.
It’s true that Bilbao is the city of luxury in Spain. Between expensive pintxos, high rent, and societal pressure to invest in the Mercedes of child transport, it’s a wonder young families can still afford to live here.