Vamos a San Sebastian!

So after having my first real “work week” teaching English, I left Bilbao for the weekend and went to San Sebastian! It’s really easy to get to San Sebastian from Bilbao. The bus ticket was only 11 euros and it’s an hour bus ride. The bus ride to get there is so scenic, that even though I wanted to sleep during it (because I am literally always tired…even with the siestas I’ve been taking!) I couldn’t. Basque Country is so beautiful. The highways wind through the lush mountains and sometimes I feel like I’m in a dream whenever I’m visiting different cities.

Anyways, we got to San Sebastian and lucky for us, we had our own tour guide who lives near San Sebastian to take us around the city (Thanks Keno!)! We walked from the bus station to our hostel, which was in Parte Vieja (the old town). San Sebastian is literally on the beach, so just walking to our hostel, we could see the ocean! We also saw Buen Pastor Cathedral. I haven’t seen that many cathedrals in Bilbao, so it was cool to see one in San Sebastian. When Lindsay and I backpacked Europe, I felt like a lot of our sightseeing was cathedrals, so it’s always interesting to see new ones to compare with the others around Europe.sscath1 sscath2Just taking the 30 minute walk to the hostel, I realized what a beautiful city San Sebastian is. I could have lived in San Sebastian instead of Bilbao, because the school I teach at is right in the middle of the two cities. I ended up choosing Bilbao because I found a really great family to aupair with and wanted to be in a bigger city (Bilbao is more of a city while San Sebastian is more of a beachy town). A part of me was really scared to visit San Sebastian and have regrets that I didn’t live there. GOOD NEWS…I don’t regret living in Bilbao, I just know where I want to live next ;).

We walked through Gros to visit Playa de Zurriola which is the “surfer’s beach” because it has more of a tide and waves.sszuriolaAfter that, it was time for some vino and pinxtos. San Sebastian is also known for having some of the best pinxtos in Basque Country. I had a tortilla y vino blanco, but later in the night I had croquette pintxos and they were the BEST ONES I’VE HAD IN SPAIN.sspixyvinoAfter eating, we visited Playa de La Concha. It was a beautiful day, so people were all over the beach, just sleeping. Reason #2678423 I love Spain is it is completely normal to just lay on the beach fully clothed and siesta. Or, you don’t have to wear anything if you don’t want. I did see a man completely naked just changing into his speedo on the beach. So that’s fine too…….ssconchaWe also walked along the coast, near Monte Urgull Media. I’ll let the pictures do the talking for how pretty it was: sscoast3 sscoast ssconchacoast ssbuildling

That night, we went out to Parte Vieja and the discoteca on the beach. I also had my first sangria this visit in Spain (since Barcelona back in May). I really liked the bars in Parte Vieja–they had good music, good drinks and good people. At one of the bars, I told a group of people I was an English teacher and got swarmed by a group of spaniards just asking me a bunch of English related questions. It’s hard to explain the difference between “I will arrive at…” and “I will get there at…” after a few glasses of vino, and mostly because there is no difference. There is a million ways to say the same thing in English. You don’t realize this until you try to teach it.

Overall, San Sebastian was amazing and I plan on going back a lot this year. For being so beautiful, it isn’t toursity and seems relatively undiscovered which I like. I still want to hike and visit the different parts of town, since I only saw the main parts this first time.ssprost

Great weekend with great new friends :) Prost (as the German boys taught me was “cheers!” in German) to San Sebastian!

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Top 5 Things About Basque Country (so far!)

So I’ve been here for less than 2 weeks, but I’m already really enjoying being in Basque Country! It seems like I’ve been here longer than I have, but I’m getting into the swing of things. I feel like I’ve done so much in the 11 days I’ve been here. I’ve been to the coast of Spain, Vitoria, gone out in different neighborhoods in Bilbao, spent time in countless cafes, and even made a few friends (woo!). Since I’m clearly such an expert now (11 days living some where makes you an expert, right?), here’s my top 5 things about Bilbao so far (and they all start with P because I thought that would be cool**): 

1. People: Before I came here, I read that people in northern Spain weren’t as friendly as the ones in other parts of Spain. From my experience, everyone has been SO helpful and friendly in Bilbao and around Basque Country. My spanish isn’t very great, and there have been a few times in the city where I’ve been trying to do something on my own (like opening a bank account, finding a store to unlock my phone) and even though I was speaking in Spanglish, people were more than happy to help me. A guy at a store even drew me out a map of Bilbao and told me where all the stores that unlocked phones were and how to get there. I was a little nervous that northern Spain would be similar to Italy for me, but it has been the complete opposite.

2. Pinxtos: No words necessary.5things1

3. Plazas: I love the plazas throughout the city. During the day, people take their morning breaks in the plazas and walk through them to get to work. During the night, they are filled with people of all ages drinking and enjoying themselves. The other night, we went out in Casco Viejo to Plaza Nuevo. Plaza Nuevo is a big square plaza, surrounded by bars. There were people in their twenties like me, but also older people, babies and even dogs at the bars. It was so fun to bar hop in the plaza, and be able to take your copa de vino with you  (no open container law in Spain!).

4. Public Transportation: There are multiple ways to get wherever, whenever in the city. There’s a tram, tons of bus routes, a (really, really clean) metro and a train. Also, Bilbao isn’t that big so you can walk pretty much anywhere within 15-30 minutes. But if you don’t want to walk or want to go to another town, it’s so easy to hop on the metro or take a bus. Everything is also really well labeled.

5. Places: There are so many cool places around Bilbao and within Bilbao itself. Bilbao has different parts of town, like Casco Viejo, Duesto, Indauxtu, that all have different things to offer. You can take the metro from the city and be on the coast within 30 minutes for less than 2 euros. Or you can stay in Bilbao and sight see at the Guggenheim, visit a plaza, walk along the river, shop, take the funicular for a city view, go to a cafe etc. It’s a really cultural city to be in and a really unique part of Spain! I can’t wait to keep exploring! 5things2Instagram

After my adventure in Spain is over, I’ll make another top 5 (or 10 list) and see if things have changed! Adios! 

[**Side note: If wine began with a p, that would have been on the list too. Pwine isn’t a word though. :( ]

Trip to Vitoria and My First Pinxtos!

Today, I had my first day of orientation for my job as an auxiliar! I woke up extra early because the bus ride to get to Vitoria is about an hour and I have to take the tram to the bus station. One thing I’ve loved so far is Bilbao’s public transportation. I purchased a Barik card that can be used on the metro, tram and Bilbao bus system. All you do is add money and you get transportation cheaper than if you were buying single tickets. So simple!

Before orientation, I met with some fellow auxiliars at the bus station and we took the bus. Our first day of orientation was en el Salon de actos del Gobierno Vasco, which is a government building located along the outskirts of Vitoria. The orientation was all in spanish so it was really difficult for me to understand, until an Australian guy who apparently either works for the government or is an older auxiliar started speaking. He spoke slowly and more animated than the others. I felt so accomplished after he finished talking about the TIE/NIE (aka green cards) we will need to legally stay in Spain and I understood exactly how to get one! He also made me feel really excited to be doing this program and to be living in Basque Country. I haven’t even been here a week and I already feel like I’m in the best region of Spain. 

The orientation was short and over by 11:30am, so some fellow auxiliars and I went out to explore the city for a few hours. Vitoria is the capital of Pais Vasco, so I was really excited to see the city. Since we began on the outskirts at the government building, at first I was unimpressed. However, after walking about 10-15 minutes towards the center of the city, it transformed into a beautiful city and I went pretty picture (and later, instagram) crazy.vit2

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vit3I really enjoyed walking around Vitoria! It has beautiful, old architecture and is a very “green” friendly city. It’s very clean and they encourage green things like using public transportation/buses. While in Vitoria, I also had my first pinxtos in Basque Country!! They were SO GOOD. Pinxtos are the basque version of tapas. I love them because they are really small portions so you can try a bunch! I got two; one was a ham sandwich on a sweet croissant and the other was caramelized bacon, goat cheese and a walnut on a sliced baguette. I obviously also had to have multiple copas de vino blanco because I aupair in the evening and wine is necessary for that. And drinking wine at any hour/all hours is completely normal in Europe……so yeah, I’m never leaving ;). vit4

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