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Monday, September 1, 2008

Espana once more

Bilbao is a city in I had yet to visit so when my flatmate, who is from there, graciously invited me and another friend to their yearly festivals, I gladly said yes.

We planned a week long vacation, the weekend in Bilbao, and then a week in Belen's village, a small pueblo in the middle of Spain, where her mother grew up and where she spent summers as a child.

Our first day was full of activity when her friends, a newly engaged couple, picked us up and drove us along the coast towards France. The landscape was beautiful and much to Belen's dismay reminded me of Northern California. We stopped for Pinchos, a cultural experience of the north, of lovely little food in all different shapes and sizes, displayed out on the bar which people pick and chose from, drinking and eating, and then moving on to the next place to find something different, special.

We ended the day on top of a small mountain, next to a church in the ocean, a long walk up many stairs with vistas never ending (think the place in the ending of Mamma Mia). We stayed till the sun set. It was the perfect place to reflect even though I was so weary. We spent the rest of the weekend in Bilbao, visiting the famous Guggenheim, enjoying the cafes and more pinchos in the old part of town, watching everyone drink large cups of Kalimotxos, drinks of half red wine, half coke. We danced and explored, leaving early from the festivals at three, while her friends headed home at six the next morning.

Forward to Tuesday, a different experience altogether. We are in a tiny village surrounded by large fields, a river, mountains and many trees, my favorite trees are ones that look as if they are clapping in the wind for us. People stop by Belen's mother's home, dropping off enormous squash, strawberries, small sweet plums, thick heads of lettuce picked from their garden. I am happy Belen's mother is happy here. The sun shines bright on her newly built back house, there are two houses now, right in the centre of town, with a shaded outside area where we eat. We eat huge midday meals and attempt to find swimming areas in the river or work on our tans at the free pool in the afternoon.

Children run free, alone with their friends, until late, even after we fall asleep early from the heat of the day. I imagine Belen young. People stop her on the street to say hello and to tell her she has not changed since she was a small girl and I see this is true from pictures. I enjoy the relaxation of it all, the walks after dinner in the quite of night, the stars visible in the sky.

We ended the trip in Leon, another classical and very religious Spanish city, different from Bilbao, with night excitement I wish we had in London, everyone out and about, strolling casually around.

When I return home, English spoken in the street surprises me. I say pardoneme to a Brit in the store and forget where I am.

The trip reminded me how much I love Spain.

1 comment:

nadia said...

I was there too.
nadia

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