Due to unforeseen circumstances, I only got to spend a week in Bilbao before heading back to Wales, however this gave me the opportunity mentally distance myself from the fact I start work in a few weeks and use this first week to be a shameless tourist.
Although it was a bit risky arranging my accommodation for the year over Facebook, luckily it worked in my favour as everything was fine and I could move in as soon as I arrived. Bilbao is a city that’s so easy to travel to, as my nearest airport has flights straight to Bilbao and then there’s a bus directly outside which takes you to the well-connected city centre.
Transport in and around the city is so easy to use. Despite having a traumatic incident where a bus driver laughed at my Spanish and refused to help me with directions, the bus stops have so much more information on them than at home. On the bus stops themselves they have maps of every bus route on that stop, and they have signs with live bus arrival times. The metro is also incredibly efficient, making it very easy to travel and explore at a rapid pace. I now have a Barik card, which is similar to an Oyster card, and not only does it make my journeys cheaper, but it’s one of the little things that is making me feel less like a newcomer and more settled.
Mum and I visited many different places thanks to the easy transport links. We visited the much older parts of Bilbao like Casco Viejo and Portugalete, which reminded me fondly of the more dated architecture in Chester. In Casco Viejo we found our favourite coffee shop outside the Cathedral, which we also visited. Like the Guggenheim, they had audio guides which opened up the world of tourism to people of all nationalities.
We also visited places that didn’t necessarily need a grand introduction. We saw the transporter bridge in Getxo, many beautiful churches and the marvel that are street travelators. After hearing from friends in Vigo about the many hills, I feel fortunate that I only have to walk down the hill to my school!
Even though it’s been a manic month, I’m glad I still have plenty more to come.