An Early Morning With a side of Rain
In light of the long weekend, a group of friends and I seized the opportunity to travel around Spain and visit other regions outside of Asturias. With a shaky weather forecast and wonky bus departure time, we were ultimately worried about the success of the trip throughout the week up until the night we left…at 1 am. After a 4-hour bus ride, we arrived in Bilbao, Spain, located in Basque country. Attempting to sleep on the bus proved to be an impossibility, so we all jolted off the bus and into the morning rain in the early hours before sunrise. Unlike Oviedo, not a single store was open at 5:15 in the morning in Bilbao.
To pass the time, we decided to hover under a covered city building and chomp down on the snacks our host moms so graciously packed for us. When the rain stopped, we ventured around the city until we located the only breakfast shop that had signs of life. We tapped on the window, and to our delight, the owner came out to let us know the store would open in 15 minutes at 8am. (Yes, we did hang out in the rainy, cold weather for 3 hours and I live to tell the tale.)
Guggenheim Museum, Caffeine Fixes, and group dynamics
After two hours of slowly sipping café con leche, the real exciting part began: visiting the Guggenheim Museum. We were the first group to enter the museum and were stunned by the art, which ranged from paintings, sculptures, and film, to digital arts. Aside from the delights inside of the museum, the architecture and design of the building itself was mind-blowing. We were all floored by the art and spent hours carefully listening to our headsets that explained each piece of work. After a good 4 hours in the museum, our minds and feet were exhausted and our stomachs were growling.
As the excitement of the day (and the caffeine) began to wear off, the group dynamic began to take a turn. Of course, with any large group, there are always vibrantly different personalities with varying interests and preferences. We were a group of 7, so, as you can imagine, making decisions from this point onward posed to be a bit of a challenge. With some debating and cooperation however, we finally decided on a place to eat for lunch. (Always the most difficult decision to make, right?)
San Sebastian Adventures
In the evening, we boarded another bus to San Sebastian, a beach town known for its pinchos and tapas. We arrived in San Sebastian to the point of over-exhaustion that our minds and bodies couldn’t compute our lack of sleep, so we quickly walked to our hostel. We were so fortunate because the hostel was centrally located, close to the bus station, super clean, and had excellent staff. (Don’t worry, I did not get paid to advertise this place.) During our first night, we opted to just get dinner and walk throughout the town.
Once again, the power dynamics of the group came into play when trying to decide what to do the following days. Some people wanted to go to the beach, others wanted to explore, and others wanted to hike. I opted for a blend of all three, and we mutually came to the conclusion that we could fit them all into our schedule if we planned accordingly. My one friend and colleague, Dylan, led the way throughout the hike as we climbed to El Castillo de Monta, the cities castle located at the top of the mountain. This views from the top of the mountain were extraordinary, and there was a path that led straight down to the ocean. Naturally, we spend time at this spot and watched all the cute dogs run along the shoreline.
We continued to do some city exploring the next day too, visiting the historic library, cathedral, and the Indianos. Indianos are extremely large houses with palm trees outside of them. The name derives from people who emigrated to the Indies, more specifically to Cuba, and who, on their return, boasted their wealth obtained in those lands by bringing back palm trees to place in front of their newly-built mansions. It was actually really exciting to see these type buildings and be able to identify them because we just learned about them in our Spanish lit class the previous week.
We topped off our week with a home cooked lunch, followed by a game of Spanish cards, and then went out to one final dinner in San Sebastian. This weekend was an unforgettable time and reminded us all of the beauties of Spain (and inspired us to travel more.)