Monday, July 23, 2012

¡más aventuras!

Looks like I need to catch up on my past two weekends here in Spain!

Last weekend Jessi and I went out with a group of friends we met from Austria who were studying in a computer engineering program at our university.  When I came here, I expected to meet people from Spain, but I didn't think about how many people from other countries I would meet as well!  These guys are all students at a university in Vienna, but they originally came from Germany, Serbia, and Bosnia.  The role language plays in our lives is so interesting to me, as we became friends with this group because they realized that we speak English, and could communicate easily with them (they speak no Spanish). We had a fun night out on Friday in Casco Viejo, the old town section of Bilbao, and then said goodbye to them because they were flying back to Austria the following day.

Representing Bilbao's football club (as in soccer, of course) with our friends...and a random German man.
I spent the following day on a day trip to Santander with Andrea, Milan, and Jessi.  Santander is home to "Palacio de la Magdalena," which was built in 1911 as a summer residence for the royal family.  Today, it remains as a historical monument in a public park, and holds a reception hall for weddings.  After our visit to the palace, we spent the day relaxing on the beach and swimming in what I consider warm ocean water (although those of you who didn't grow up going to beaching in Maine may disagree).
El Palacio de la Magdalena

My study abroad group with our wonderful director, Andrea
It was a blustery morning in Santander!

On the beach!

Santander coastline

We didn't miss a beat last weekend, and went out on Saturday night after our trip to Santander.  The "fiestas" were going on in Santurzi, a suburb close to Getxo (where we live).  There were carnival rides and sideshow games, churro stands, and crowds of people hanging out and dancing in the streets and outside of bars.  I went on my first ever ferris wheel ride (somehow I've gone almost 20 years without ever having been on a ferris wheel, don't know how I managed that!) and then walked around town and got churros.  After pushing our way through the crowds, we decided that it really wasn't our scene after all, it turned out to be too dirty and crowded for my taste.  Nevertheless, we were glad we experienced the fiesta, because we really don't have anything like it back home.

Me and Milan on the ferris wheel!

A sideshow game to win entire legs of ham - only in Spain
A week of classes, with evenings out with Andrea for a Spanish movie and chocolate con churros, was followed by another exciting weekend.  This past weekend also turned out to be especially musical.  We kicked it off on Friday night with a concert at the Guggenheim Museum.  We saw the group "Cocorosie" which is made up of two sisters and their band.  The sisters are originally from the US, but formed their band in Paris.  The music is a very unique blend of pop, blues, opera, electronica, and hip hop, and uses a variety of instruments from a traditional concert harp to folk instruments like wooden flutes. Check out the video below if you'd like to listen.

On Saturday morning, Jessi, Milan and I took a bus to San Sebastian.  We were lucky to have much better weather for our return trip to the beach city.  After we found our hostel and got settled in, we went shopping in town and out for a lunch of paella and fresh fish.  We spent the afternoon at the beach before returning to the hostel for dinner.  We met the other guests at the hostel, who were all from Germany, but were not all traveling together.  They invited us to go out with them that night to the jazz festival - there was a concert right on the beach!  The band was "The Waterboys," a Celtic rock group. We had a great time dancing to the music, and met two Irish guys on the beach who were doing the jig to the fiddle solos.  I preferred this music to the music from Friday night, listen below!  After the concert, we went for a nighttime dive in the ocean.  It was fun at the time, but probably not my best idea from this trip seeing as I then had a long and cold walk back to the hostel in my soaking wet dress. Live and learn :)

Sunday was a beautiful beach day in San Sebastian, and we returned to Getxo last night with lots of great new memories!

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