San Sebastián Favorites: Sun, Shopping, and Pintxos

The good thing about #slowblogging is that the buzz of the trip has died down in my mind, and the highlights stand out against the blur of my memory. I don’t remember why I wasn’t excited about visiting San Sebastian when I planned my trip to Spanish Basque Country, but I am glad that I decided to stay two nights instead of making it a lightning-quick trip from Bilbao.

Continue reading “San Sebastián Favorites: Sun, Shopping, and Pintxos”

Advertisements

Take me back to Puerto Viejo

I think it might have been this post by Christine in Spain that fixed Spanish Basque Country in my mind. It’s about Puerto Viejo in Algorta, just a metro ride north of Bilbao.

Continue reading “Take me back to Puerto Viejo”

Postcard from Bilbao

Hi there! Guess what? I’m actually in Bilbao right now! Usually it’s “Postcard from somewhere I was weeks ago” because I am a nut about editing photos, and I’m also just really slow at blogging most of the time. (Don’t worry, more slow blogging posts will be coming your way. Eventually.) 

This region of Spain is breathtaking. I’m so glad I decided to come here. The weather is perfect! I’ve spent one day in Getxo, just north of Bilbao (I might have liked Getxo better than Bilbao itself) and today in Santander, an hour and a half west in the Cantabria region. (Did I spell that right? Cantabria?) 

Yesterday I just walked around Bilbao for hours and took a million photos of the Guggenheim. I know the spider sculpture is art but it still freaks me out a tiny bit. (#arachnophobe)

There’s a giant festival going on here this week, and last night kicked it all off. The streets of the old town (Casco viejo) were overflowing (sometimes in an alarming could this crowd crush me to death kind of way). Then it started absolutely pouring down rain – the build-an-ark kind of pouring down rain that stays in permanent downpour mode. I was stuck in a Carrefour grocery store entrance and the security guard wanted everyone taking shelter from the rain to clear out, but he didn’t insist because this wasn’t the kind of rain you send people out into. The guys next to me opened up their purchases to make the most of the situation – ice in a giant cup, filled halfway with red wine, and then topped off with lemon Fanta soda. Is there a name for this drink in Spanish? 

Anyway, here are a few photos of Bilbao and Getxo. Some of them are edited, some of them are straight off my iPhone – I’m getting crazy here. 

Puerto Viejo, Getxo
  
  

  

Feet selfies are the only kind of selfie I like taking
  
  
Over the bridge to the big beach in Pletzia
  
Guggenheim, spider art, and a beautiful morning
    
   
My first pintxo in Basque Country.
  

  
  

   

         

   

Why I’m not traveling all summer

It would be a lie to say that paid vacation isn’t an awesome part of being a lectrice. If anyone’s like, “Oh, the vacation doesn’t really matter to me, I love teaching French students at the fac so much I could do it twelve months a year!” they are full of shit.

No. Vacation is awesome.

But I still manage to overthink it.

Because I feel like I’m doing vacation wrong.

I feel like I should pack a bag and take the train all over Italy for a month, or hang out on the beach, carefree, in Croatia or Greece. It would be the perfect time to visit Normandy and Bretagne, where I’ve never been. Escaping the heatwave is reason enough to go!

But I’m still in Lyon.

It’s too hot, my favorite cafés (aka where the AC is) are closed in August, and almost everyone I know is out of town. It’s the ideal time to get out of town. So why haven’t I?

I was traveling for a few weeks in May and June when my family came to visit from California. We went to Germany, Switzerland, Paris, Bourgogne, and Vienna. I needed a little break to rest and you know, get clean underwear.

Then we moved apartments. It was the slowest move ever. Snails move house faster than we did. (Snails have an unfair advantage because they don’t have a washing machine.) My roommates moved out a week and a half before we did, and with them went the furniture, the stove, the refrigerator, the plates, everything. I tell ya, you don’t appreciate stuff like cutlery until it’s gone!

Also, it was 100 degrees, we lived in a five story walkup, and we had no refrigerator. I’m not convinced we wouldn’t have been better off dragging our mattress down by the river.

We moved into the new apartment gradually over a month. At the beginning, I was just happy to have a fridge and a coffee maker. Now I’m excited that we finally have a table. Tables are awesome!

Hugo found out that I was not exaggerating when I said I had the upper body strength of a chipmunk, but unfortunately we were already lugging a fold-out couch down the street (from two blocks away because there was no parking!) We are going to have to live here forever because no way are we moving all this furniture again.

So now we have a home, and instead of summer travels, I have a weird summer non-routine. It feels like being unemployed, even though I’m not. Do you know when you’re home all day, and you do everything on your list that you’re supposed to do, but you still feel like you haven’t accomplished anything at the end of the day?

Some days it’s hard to focus because the heat makes me feel braindead, so I languish in front of the fan and look up how much it would cost to go to Girona or Bordeaux, like, right now. But instead of hitting the road whenever I feel antsy, I’m learning to stay put and chug forward steadily.

The best reason to stay put

Even so… I still have one trip planned for the end of the summer! After much should-I-or-shouldn’t-I agonizing, I booked tickets to Bilbao and San Sebastian in the Basque region of Spain. I was dying to go and felt that I would regret it if I didn’t while I have the time and the resources. Then I’m flying directly up north for a wedding, so I’ll crash through Brussels and Lille on my way. (Which city is more awesome? I have an afternoon to spend in one or the other!)

A lot of people might roll their eyes when I call this “not traveling.” Visiting Germany, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, and, for a hot second, Belgium, is not traveling?

But on the flip-side, travel junkies would probably be equally flabbergasted that I spent almost eight weeks of paid vacation at home.

(And if you’re American, you might just be gob-smacked that I have so much paid vacation. But don’t worry, you earn a lot more money than I do.)

I do feel (self-inflicted) pressure to travel around Europe as much as I can while I can, because I have no idea how my life is going to change in a year. And there are a lot of places I want to go. I’m already dreaming about Toussaint vacation at the end of October. (Lisbon? Florence? Istanbul? Budapest?)

But for now, I’m doing the best I can to balance wanderlust with other priorities. I’m not a glamourous jetsetter, but I’m okay with that. Sometimes it’s nice to stay home.

Besides, how could I leave these guys?

If you’ve blogged about the Basque Country, post a link in the comments! I’d love to hear your tips.

What are you up to this summer?