Happy weekend! I wanted to do something little different today, so hang in there with me. :)
You may or may not know that one year ago, I was studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. The experiences I had there were absolutely unforgettable, and I had the opportunity to travel across the continent and explore more new places as the semester progressed. I haven’t had the opportunity to share a lot of these stories on my blog because I haven’t really taken the time to. Well that changes today. Introducing a new series: one year ago today. What follows is a story of the weekend (or week, as it may be in the future) as it happened one year ago. It may be long, but I promise it will be interesting. If you want to skip the story and go to the next photo, though, I won’t be offended. ;)
P.S. I also have made a personal goal to finish up my project life-style album in time with my adventures abroad. I will be sharing more about that soon – I have some catching up to do with actually writing in and finishing off the pages!
One year ago today, I was in San Sebastian, Spain in the Basque Country area of northern Spain. I went with 5 girls that I lived in the student housing with, and we left after class on a Thursday and took an overnight bus to our vacation destination. It was so convenient – the bus station was literally in our back yard, so we just packed up our little suitcases and bags and hopped on the bus close to midnight. After a really awkward moment where the bus driver told us we weren’t allowed to take off our shoes (we still don’t know to this day if he was just joking or just trying to yell at us nicely), we settled in a fell into a half-sleep-half-hypervigilance-of-the-weird-people-around-us coma.
The bus pulled into the lonely bus stop in San Sebastian at about 5 in the morning the next day. It was super dark and absolutely pouring outside. We were so tired and cold that we even went in to ask a nearby hotel if we could rent a room for just the rest of the morning for a discounted rate. We didn’t stay there (I think he gave us an absurd number – like 250 Euros or something like that for 5 hours). We found a small newstand/cafe by the bus stop to warm up in and consume copious amounts of pastries, espresso (tres cafes con leche y tres cortados, por favor) and fresh-squeezed orange juice (every cafe in the country has an awesome fresh-squeezed orange juice machine, I swear). Then, in some order which I don’t remember, we spent time in another, much larger cafe-turned-student-hangout center, took a taxi ride, or two, went to another local place for huge (by Spain standards), warm breakfast and made it to the San Sebastian tourism center to pick up maps, postcards and information on the local hotspots. It was a really, really long-but-absurdly-awesome 5 hours.
Then, we were finally able to check into our hodunk hostel (more on that later), get sufficiently creeped out by the owner guy, change into dry clothes and then head out for a day of adventure-ing. We walked to down town via along the beach and then headed up to see Jesus on top of the little mountain overlooking the entire city (where I took the picture above of the other harbor). The view was worth the walk up times about 1000. I could hardly breathe; it was so beautiful. We even met a group of the nicest stray cats ever (who lived on the side of the mountain and climbed from tree to tree) and got sufficiently scared shitless by climbing around and under the huge Jesus statue. It was well lit outside, but the shadowed walkways didn’t have any artificial lighting. One of the girls tried to test out our path ahead by yelling ahead “hello?” and some random man answered back from like 3 feet away. Then we all screamed and he felt terrible. Looking back, it was hilariously awkward. We walked up those stairs and ended up literally at the feet of Jesus for the best view of – well – everything.
We walked back down the hill on the otherside and ended up in downtown again. We were starving after our afternoon hike and went decided to walk from pintxo (pronounced pin-CHO) bar to pintxo bar and try to pronounce Euskara (the local Basque language there that really looks like jibberish when you first see it). Sidenote: if you’re at all interested in history, the story of this city is amazing. It was burnt to the ground in 1813 and only one street remained. We saw this street, and it was so amazing – you can still see some of the burn marks from the war. We tried a few crazy foods here and there and enjoyed the walk through the city. We eventually ended up at A Fuego Negro, our home-base restaurant for that day.
We then went back to the hostel to change again for a night out, downed far too many bottles of wine from plastic cups, mingled with the residents of the hostel from around the world and then set out for a night out on the town. We walked from pintxo bar to pintxo bar, tasting the local food and talking to the locals at the packed restaurants. We asked the workers about what pictures on the wall meant, observed the differences between restaurants and walked tipsily down the streets of downtown San Sebastian. As fate would have it, we ended up at A Fuego Negro near closing time and indulged ourselves once more. We talked to the bartenders there, and they insisted on introducing us to the chef they just brought in from the US. We were skeptical, but somehow we met up with him and his Spanish roommate outside the bar and walked all over the city with them having a few more drinks until a few of the girls needed to be taken home. (There was some crying involved, I’m pretty sure. Do any of us know why? Nope. Not at all.) I remember having a crazyily intense conversation with the Spanish roommate completely in Spanish where we talked about our hopes and dreams while the American guy reveled in the fact of actually knowing the language everyone was speaking by talking to the other girls. We said goodnight and headed up to go to bed.
I remember there being more crying – about boyfriends? – here. And then we had to make our beds (which were triple, unstable, bunk beds) with weird, multi-colored sheets. One of the beds had a weird spot on it, so we freaked out about that. A few of the girls vowed to never stay in a hostel again, and then someone passed out on a bed that they hadn’t made and there were two beds that hadn’t been made and only one girl left that had made one. More crying here. It was a long night, you guys. Eventually we all fell asleep on relatively clean beds. The fact of the matter was that we had all had at least wayyyy to many drinks (most of which was wine) and we’d been up for about 48 hours, so emotions were all over the place. It’s memories like these that I look back on and smile now, but at the time it was very much a WTF situation. I bet the girls with me at the time agree.
The next day, we woke up around noon and went to fill our bellies with some hangover cures at Bideluze, where I had possibly the best breakfast-actually-lunch breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had. Or maybe it was the hangover. Either way, it was the best thing EVER. Then we explored more of the city (shopping!) and went to the fantastic aquarium. They had a movie theater where the screen was a huge fish tank and stingrays that interacted with you next to the aquarium glass (or maybe that was just me. Maybe I’m a stingray talker? That would be my secret magical talent.). It was awesome. Then, we had made friends with a group from another hostel that was going to an all-you-can-eat cider brewpub. I felt really sick so decided to head back to the hostel and rest. (I know now that it was the start of my IBS rearing its ugly head, but at the time I thought it was the stomach flu.) The girls had a fabulous time at the restaurant – the group ate so much that the restaurant cut them off. Oops. They were being to American. (Yes, that’s really a thing… more than you would ever know). I was asleep by the time they returned, but we all fell asleep – we had to wake up in time for an early bus to Bilbao.
The next morning, we made the bus and traveled for an hour or two on the bus throughout the prettiest countryside I’ve ever seen in my life. It was so green and mountainous, just like a movie. In Bilbao, we ate pintxos for one last time (after which we all declared that we were incredibly sick of eating pintxos as a meal and just wanted a real meal), climbed to the top of about eight hundred mysterious stairs to the top of a hill in the city (and then took the weirdest, sketchiest elevator down that cost about a Euro per ride) and spent most of the rest of our day at the Guggenheim. And yes, it was everything I’d ever thought it would be. I’m now in love with everything Richard Serra. We had the biggest, most amazing paella at Larruzz Bilbao, then headed to the airport for our very first experience with Vueling (I later came to love and adore Vueling + EasyJet, but that’s a story for another time) and safely made it back to our housing in Barcelona in time to go to bed and wake up for class the next day.
It was a weekend I’ll never forget. Here are some more pictures from the weekend. They’re in chronological order, so I bet you’ll see a lot of things that I mentioned in the above story. :)
So there it is – the story of one year ago. Off to go creative and make things. I’m feeling inspired by telling my story. Maybe I’ll even get my Project Life spruced up so I can share it with you in a video soon? I’ve gotten so many comments and questions asking me to share the progress! Thanks so much for stopping by today. See you soon!
P.S. Added in a few photos so that Leslie can make it through each paragraph. ;) But seriously, I liked that idea and thought it would add to the story. :)
P.P.S. Thanks to Ava, Julia, Kate, Sarah and Vanessa for joining me on this rollercoaster ride trip!