In Search of a Better Spain

In Search of a Better Spain: Bewildered in Bilbao!

Arriving in Bilbao was much like falling out of a nightclub in Camden at 6 a.m.; at least it was around by my hostel. The early bus ride from Santander had been a dozy, slightly hungover, one after my night out in Santander, but by the time we pulled up in the Termibus station, I was upbeat and ready to explore.

I was a bit of a trek away from the city centre, so I caught the metro. Being on such a modern, clean and fresh smelling metro reminded me of the one in Bangkok. Soon I was in the centre at Abando, a short walk away from the River Nervión.

Centre of Bilbao, rather spacious, don't you think? Photo by gatogrunge
Centre of Bilbao, rather spacious, don’t you think?
Photo by gatogrunge

I had been expecting a small, cramped city centre, much like the back streets of Sevilla, but there was so much space about. The roads and bridges were all wide and lack of people meant there was plenty of personal space. Once over the bridge I sat down on the steps in Arriaga plaza and gazed around at the beautiful buildings and green hills in the background. Bilbao had made a great first impression.

Then the adventure began. I strolled along the river until I came to the next bridge and crossed back over heading towards my hostel. Once in the back streets I felt as if I’d been teleported into a different city. A group of skinhead lads stumbled out of an all night disco while bassy trance music polluted the air. By the state of their eyes and sweaty faces I guessed they’d been on more than just a few beers. As I passed, I noticed a couple of young ladies sitting in a doorway sharing a joint. When I heard the skinheads shouting out, I kept my head down and picked up the pace. Continue reading “In Search of a Better Spain: Bewildered in Bilbao!”

In Search of a Better Spain, Travel

In Search of a Better Spain: Santander, a perfect place to live?

“So are you going to el Palacio de Magdalena today?” the hostel owner asked as I went to sneak out the front door; I was still half asleep and not quiet in the mood for a morning chat. He was shaking his head in excitement, as if he’d designed the palace himself.

“I’m not sure.”

He stopped still, frowned and scrunched his eyes slightly. “But why? You must, it is the most prolific attraction in Santander.”

“I don’t know, it sounds a bit boring, any way it can’t be anything like Buckingham Palace.” I tried to keep a straight face, but he’d already cottoned on.

“I see, that is a British joke again, very funny,” he said, wagging his finger at me.

Sunset from Palacio de la Magdalena. Photo by Jose Miguel Martinez
Sunset from Palacio de la Magdalena.
Photo by Jose Miguel Martinez

Of course I was going to see el Palacio de Magdalena. Any place where Spanish Royalty stayed had to be worth a ganders. Besides, I’m a ‘view man’ and the palace was situated on a hill right on the edge of the city and the views across the Bay of Biscay had to be amazing.

I went on a wander round the centre first though. The sun was shining and the weather was perfect for a stroll. I popped into the Modern art museum, which was a mistake because I’m not a fan of modern art, nor museums really. Continue reading “In Search of a Better Spain: Santander, a perfect place to live?”

In Search of a Better Spain, Travel

In Search of a Better Spain: Santander

As I sat on a wooden bench along Paseo Pereda in Santander’s harbour looking out over the slightly rocky sea, I breathed with a sigh of relief; I was finally travelling again. I’d been cooped up in Sevilla for too long, almost two years since arriving, and I’d barely seen the country I’d set out to explore.

Santander - paseo pereda
Breathe in…ahh…travelling again! Paseo Pereda – Santander. Photo by Jose Miguel Martinez

I’d chosen Sevilla because I’d been told the lifestyle was chilled, the weather was superb, and it was a great hub for touring Andalucía. All that was true, but I was unsure it was for me; there had to be more exciting places to live in Spain than Sevilla. Since arriving I’d done nothing but reminisce about my adventure round the world through South America, Australia, and Asia. It had been such fun, roaming the world as a free spirit.

But something drastic had changed. I was no longer a free spirit; I had a girlfriend, a Sevillana. I’d completely fallen for her; there was no doubting that, but Sevilla? I constantly battled with myself about whether or not I should stay there, in such a traditional, tedious, blisteringly hot place. There was only one thing for it, to travel again, and see what else Spain could offer. Continue reading “In Search of a Better Spain: Santander”