I’m not the most observant person. I’ve been called a sieve on numerous occasions by my old housemates. My mum will point things out about people and places that have never even crossed my mind. My brother is a human satnav because he always remembers locations he has travelled to.
Being in another country, however, makes it a lot easier for one to observe cultures and customs, as an outsider. I’m making a list (and checking it twice), and here is the first instalment of “The little things about a big city”. Enjoy.
- They don’t ask you how your meal is every five minutes. They just let you eat. Thank goodness.
- People are always in cafes socialising over coffee. Or wine. Or both.
- Inconsistent admin. Always. I would tell you how to get things done in Bilbao but in all honesty, I have no idea, it changes all the time.
- The Gin and Tonic ratio in clubs are out of this world.
- Unisex toilets exist. On purpose, not out of convenience like that random dilapidated bathroom in the back of a coffee shop. In some cases, there’s gender neutral ones too.
- Kids are roaming the streets late at night, whether they are playing outside or just hanging out with their parents. I swear I’m in bed before them, regardless of whether I’m teaching the next day or not.
- Blue wine exists? It’s very sweet and it tastes like squash- a recipe for disaster.
- Return tickets don’t seem to exist here, so what looks like a cheap metro ride can actually add up after a while.
- They put up their massive umbrellas after the tiniest dribble of rain. Who has time for that when it’s just spitting down and your house is just around the corner?
- The majority of pintxos have egg in them. Having an egg allergy must suck, at least vegans will have probably scouted out the vegan-friendly bars (aka Twiggys)
- Construction. All the time. Whether it’s maintaining the travellators outside my school, or repainting the road, or just building something random, I don’t think there’s been a day where I haven’t seen construction tape somewhere.
- Students literally do not stop having exams. We thought we had it bad by having exams every year, I swear some of my kids have them every week.
- Tree decoration is a bit of a mess. Sometimes it’s beautiful (points to Algorta), sometimes it’s just trippy (Gran Via, I’m looking at you).
- Christmas adverts aren’t Oscar worthy masterpieces. I’ve made a fair few children emotionally distressed after showing them this year’s John Lewis advert.
- They have their own Santa, and their own Christmas carols. IN BASQUE. It’s so cool that I now live in such a unique region of Spain with its own traditions.
I am now in the airport hoping that my flight won’t get delayed further, wish me luck.