This morning I fumbled around in the dark for a solid trying to get ready for my morning exercise. Turns out young people in hostels sleep until the early afternoon every day of the week. (I qualify as a late middle-aged and/or elderly woman in nearly every country). Anyway, I set out for a run along the Nervión River, an offshoot of the Bay of Biscay in Getxo. The scenery was stunning. Each bridge I passed was designed in a different way, some steel and very modern looking, others several hundred years old. I didn't take photos as it may have interfered with my workout, but I'm sure I'll capture some in the next couple of months.
After some brekke and a shower, I set out to explore Casco Viejo, the oldest area of Bilbao. It is about a 10 minute metro ride away from my hostel. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to try out the metro for the first time and let me say, Bilbao/Getxo's metro system is the cleanest and most modern subway system I have ever had the pleasure of utilizing. I know the U.S. isn't exactly known for its fabulous public transpiration, but this system was outstanding even for Europe. Anyway, with minimal hassle I made it the infamous Casco Viejo. The area is composed of seven streets, each named for its original purpose (i.e. "The Street of Stores," "The Street of Meat Markets," etc). I've found the Spanish to be very literal in their naming pursuits. Casco Viejo was crowded, alive, and beautiful. For the most part, each street still serves its original purpose, which really is quite amazing. Here are some snapshots.
After giving ample TLC to those adorable camels I continued walking through Casco Viejo. Just before lunch time I head a funky raucous from a few streets over. When I went to investigate I found a ridiculously dressed band of about 10 members playing basses, guitars, keyboard, drums, and four brass instruments in the street. The locals were surrounding the band enjoying their drinks in the streets and dancing along. I stayed and took in the performance for about half an hour before leaving for lunch. My first impromptu Spanish street-dance: deemed successful.
After lunch I hopped back on the metro and headed for Gexto to scope out the location of host parents' house before I meet them tomorrow. Getxo is a beach community about a five minute's metro ride north of Bilbao. I got off at my neighborhood's stop and was greeted with palm trees, kids playing in a park, and a salty breeze. It was dreamlike, really. I wandered aimlessly for about 20 minutes in the direction I thought my apartment might be in (no iphone=no GPS) until I surrendered and asked a friendly-looking kid for directions. He kindly walked me to my apartment and I stood outside like a creeper. I would have taken a picture for my blog, but I fear that may have crossed a line. I mean...they didn't even know I was there. Alas, my apartment looks adorable. It was a brick building complete with flowers in the window sill.
I have since returned to my hostel and have Facetime plans with my sissy in a few minutes. I'll leave you with one last photo and some general observations of the local culture thus far:
1. Dogs are allowed everywhere. In restaurants, bars, trains...you name it. I should have brought Cecil-totally kicking myself.
2. I read something before about goth/metal style of dress being very popular here. That was no lie. Many of the young people have sweet tattoos, wear lots of black, and have piercings in places I didn't previously know were possible.
3. Wine actually is cheaper than water.
Until next time