Long time no see 🙂
I have been in Bilbao for a few weeks now so here are some updates on what I have been up to in the city I’m calling home for three months. I am living in a three bedroom apartment with two other girls from my program. Most of the U.S. students studying abroad with us live in Getxo which is about a 20 minute metro ride from the heart of Bilbao (where we go to class). Our apartment also happens to be blocks away from the beach (pictured below)!!
My spanish class is my favorite so far because it is more conversational and pretty useful when I am talking to locals or filling out paperwork. Often, I will learn a word like codigo postal (postal code or zip code, as we call it in the States) before we talk about it in class because, in this case, I needed to know my codigo postal to register for a metro card and library card.
My favorite day of the week is Thursday because there is this thing called Pintxopote where you can pay around 2 euros for a drink and a pintxo at any restaurant or bar. The base of the word is “pintxo” which is the basque word for tapa- like a small appetizer with cheese, veggies or meat on a piece of bread. (Basque is the language spoken in the Basque Country located in the north of Spain and including Bilbao and San Sabastian and some of southern France). I love trying different pintxos with interesting toppings like raw salmon (yes, it’s raw) or jamon. Here is a picture of some pintxos you might find at a bar:
Here is a picture of my cute, sweet roommates when we actually had time to wake up and get cafe con leche from our favorite restaurant, one block from our apartment, before class. Cafe con leche is a MUST, especially on Mondays. This restaurant is always packed with locals after 8pm (when they finally start serving dinner) and they have 1.60 euro pintxos, 1.25 euro cafe con leche and you can get 7 scoops of ice cream for 5 euros. The best part is most restaurants have similar pricing for pintxos and drinks in Getxo (it is slightly more expensive in the heart of Bilbao vs. the quieter area of Getxo).
The first week in Bilbao the program advisors gave us a walking tour of Bilbao where we walked by the Guggenheim Museum (which is on my list of thingst to do) and ended at the Mercado de la Ribera which is this fun indoor fish and meat market with a whole level of pintxo bars!
Here is a cool church in the middle of the city near the Guggenheim Museum…
It has been pretty rainy here and the weather is extremely unpredictable so I have learned to pack an umbrella wherever I go (gasp) because one minute it could be 75 and sunny and the next there could be torential downpour and intense wind.
Despite the unusual weather, last week we caught some sun and walked a few miles from my apartment to el Puente de Vizcaya, which is this massive bridge over the main river that runs from Bilbao to the ocean. It costs about 1 euro to pass under the bridge on what seems like a hanging ferry that floats over the water…We’re still not sure how the engineering works but it was impressive! I have not fact-checked this, but someone told us that the bridge was designed by an American around the same time as the Eiffel Tower (kind of cool if it’s true).
Last week a group of us went to see Maluma in concert (he is a Spanish pop singer). It was a BLAST and I recognized more songs than I expected to (although they were all in spanish so we mostly just danced around all night).
Overall, I have been loving my time here in Bilbao so far. The metro is super easy to use and very clean. The people here can seem cold at first but if you approach anyone and say buenos dias, they will light up and are very warm and helpful. Most people speak both Basque and Spanish and would identify as primarily Basque and then Spanish, in terms of nationality. In fact, the Basque Country is the richest area of Spain and they collect the majority of their taxes and spend them within the Basque area. The culture here is very family oriented which is fun to be around. Past 6pm or so, everyone is out and about at bars, parks and restaurants enjoying each others’ company and no one is in a rush. It is a beautiful way to live! Most people my age live at home while attending school and end up working in the same area they grew up in. There is really no reason to move out of your parents’ house until you are married, actually. This is different from the States where high school graduates are highly encouraged to leave their parents’ home to go to college in a different city.
I’ve also noticed that as my spanish has improved, my english has gotten so much worse, so I apologize for any typos haha. I will have another blog post coming soon about my time in Munich, Germany!