Friday, 18 October 2013

Bilbao, Spain: The Empty Hostel and a New Friend

After an awesome month and a break from travelling in San Sebastian I arrived in Bilbao with a new skill in hand... Español Basico. I walked into a hostel and booked for 2 nights. That night I just wandered around the old town in Bilbao trying a few bars. Bilbao is a fairly large city (400k in city 1m in metro area) with a river separating the new town from the old.

The next day I walked into the breakfast room to start the day. In this 16 dorm hostel I was the only person in the breakfast room and also the only person that slept in my 8 bed dorm. It felt a bit weird. I watched the staff pack up the breakfast and thought maybe I was just late today. My plates and cutlery were the only ones in the dirty dish rack. On my way back to the dorm the 4 computers were empty... I think I was the only guest in this 100+ bed hostel. They should have just asked me what time I wanted breakfast.

After breakfast I quickly researched how to get to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and jumped on a bus for a day trip. The 40 min bus journey ended at the tiny beach town of Bakio. From there it was a 3km walk along the mountainy coast to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (enjoy trying to pronounce this name). I arrived at 2 small barriers blocking the path, aparently entry was closed during the months of September and October but I had to see this place. I walked passed these and down the hill. I came to another fence again with a do not enter sign, this one had a 2 metre opening and 3 construction workers working on the other side. I stopped then thought "stuff it, I will walk in and see what happens". I passed through the gate saying Hola, they said Hola back so I began my ascent. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a little monastery on an island. It truly is beautiful.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe


Bilbao is the hometown of one my Brisbane Spanish friends, Laura. She put me in contact with one of her friends, Yessenia, a travel consultant that just quit to study english in London, a ballerina and a kickboxer. That night I went to bed early as a tour was to begin with Yessenia collecting me from my hostel at 9am.

After meeting Yessenia at 9am we were on the metro to where the river meets the ocean outside of the city. Yessenia took me on a tour that involved the river, the beach, the new town, the old town, cafes, pintxos, beers, the Guggenheim, meeting her friends and a mountain with a view of the entire city. She even got lost but surely I would never tease a local about getting lost in their own city (; After a 10 hour tour with many laughs Yessenia escorted me back to the hostel.

Yessenia and the best university in Spain

Our transport across the river

The Guggenheim

That evening I collected my luggage from the hostel and went to a couch I had lined up for 2 nights. My host, Roberto, is a Law Professor at a Basque university. He has an apartment in the very centre of the old town and a farm for injured animals in the countryside. I also had my own room in his apartment... Perfecto! We went out for some beers and pintxos that night.

Roberto was off to work early the next morning so I slept until noon, then met back up with Yessenia. The evening included coffee, shopping, meeting more friends, beer, speaking Spanglish and a sad goodbye.

The next day after saying goodbye to Roberto and enjoying a 2 course lunch with a bottle of wine included,  I was off to Gijon via Bla Bla Car.

Lessons Learnt:
Some of the must see places in a region are not well known
Good friends look after you even when in a different country
It doesn't take a long time to become good friends with someone
You never get used to saying goodbye to people you meet
Kind people are everywhere

1 comment:

  1. Hey!!!!hahahahah so funny what you said about yesse!!!!hahahahah she is crazy I can imagine her with the map....hahahahah keep enjoying your trips!! =)