Summer Solstice in Spain
Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
44Trip End Aug 03, 2008
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This year, I haven't taken the time to study/practice Spanish like I have in previous years; trying to sweep a beautiful Spanish girl off her feet made this a requirement, but no beautiful Spanish girl this year means no Spanish cramming beforehand. But still, I feel the need to brush up a bit, in the event that I meet another Spanish hottie! So today, I've been listening to Spanish language lessons and music on my iPod.
I haven't been excited at all about this trip until arriving at the airport
Sat next to a retired Holland couple that now calls Calgary home (Simon and Wilhelmina). Simon used to work for Shell and he told me how Shell's previous policy was to hire only people that graduated at the top of their classes. He would be sad to know that they've now lowered their standards to include engineering hacks like me!
It feels a little weird this year - I have a ton of travel accessories, but this time I am lacking one very important one: a little Chinese girl to fake a marriage with, and one that also keeps me in stitches with her constant inappropriate comments! It won't be the same this year without you, Mary!
I'm wearing a travel shirt that I bought from MEC last year - I call it my BO shirt, because it always smells after wearing it for a while. Perhaps it wouldn't smell so strongly if my BO wasn't so bad ... I'm also wearing my stupid convertible pants - they're made of synthetic material for durability, but this means they don't breathe very well, and lead to a horrible affliction known as "Swamp Butt"
Dinner - there was this tasty little jar of pesto-like veggie spread that was actually quite good. Would probably be incredible with some pasta and freshly grated Parmesan ... the rest of the meal sucked, however. Beef stew with potatoes, green beans, and cabbage. Kind of a strange mix, with the cabbage. A chocolate chip muffin and a piece of orange chocolate rounded things out.
Breakfast was beans, hashed browns, and scrambled eggs. Flavourless. Strange that they included a Kit Kat with breakfast, but it was the only tasty thing in the box so I'm not complaining. One good thing this year is that they've added more leg room to Thomas Cook planes. No more cramped legs!
Despite only having an OK landing, everybody started clapping. Why? Do they expect the plane to crash, and they are so happy that they have to clap? Shouldn't we expect decent landings all the time? It's like those fools at the theatre that always give a standing ovation, despite it being crap
Getting off the plane - some UK guy heard that I was going to Spain and warned me about the need for Spanish there. Thanks for the tip, but been there, done that! Though it's overblown - even without Spanish the average tourist can get by. Sweeping beautiful Spanish senoritas off their feet is a different story, however ...
London was its usual cloudy, dreary self when we landed, though it improved shortly after. And finally ... I arrived in the UK WITHOUT being hassled by customs! It was too early to check in for my flight, so I ended up waiting on a bench for a while. A 5 hour layover - bad, but still not quite as terrible as a 6 hour layover I once had in Manchester ( see Euro 2006 blog entitled "Six Hours of Hell" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/europe_2006/1153134000/tpod.html?tweb_UID=pwong ).
I looked for a hole to crawl into and sleep for a while, but no luck - instead, I sat and watched the women check in for the Madrid flight. Soon ... I will be surrounded by Spanish senoritas! As I boarded the flight for Bilbao, the Spanish customs officer did a triple take with my passport
It was a little rainy in Spain when we arrived, but still humid and over 20 C. I didn't recognize the Bilbao airport, but I've only been here once before and arrived pretty late at night. Hopped onto the bus to the city centre - a cute little senorita sat down next to me. How fortuitous, a chance to practice my Spanish! I'd never have any other motives for chatting with a Spanish senorita, would I?
A funny thing - some friends back home make fun of me and my aversion to freckles. This senorita had a few, but strangely, I didn't seem to care :) 50% Belgian and 50% Spanish, she was still 100% Spanish cuteness! Very sweet, too - just like Belgian chocolates!
Another funny thing - I'm not a big fan of the name Agnes, but when the French equivalent is pronounced with a Spanish accent ... oooh ... Anes has already finished her law degree (or "Low" as she pronounced it, those blasted cute Spanish accents ...) and is wrapping up her masters in only a few weeks.
We hopped off at Plaza Moyua, where Anes gave me some directions and I was off
Very friendly people here in Bilbao - I had a lot of trouble finding the hotel, but three people ended up helping me, and one even walked a block or two with me. I am definitely not in backpacker shape - my legs were burning and I was sweating like a pig as I arrived. The hotel appears to be in a seedy area (red light district?) - I guess that's why it was cheap! It's a very basic place.
Had a quick shower and watched a bit of Futurama in Spanish (Bender is funny in ANY language), before taking off for a walk. Made a mess of a chicken kebab in front of a church in the old town, and washed it all down with a San Miguel. The old town was quite dead today, but that's to be expected for a Sunday.
I'm a little surprised at the bad weather and even more by the lack of Spanish hotties out today. People would surmise that the lack of sun meant that the women stayed home, but I know different - if there are no Spanish senoritas out and about, the sun decides it's not worth his time to come out, either
Came across a Galician festival in one of the main plazas. An incredible selection of tapas and barbequed meats were available, but having just eaten a kebab, I didn't have the room. I noticed that they are having a final celebration later tonight, so I will return for that.
I walked over to the Guggenheim and browsed in a few souvenir shops - the girl working there was the prototypical Spanish senorita; she's definitely more than qualified to work at a Spanish hotel's reception desk, if you know what I mean!
Had some bad gelato - watermelon and Ferrero Rocher. I was pretty tired and dazed; I walked from 16:30-20:30, and haven't really slept in 27 hours. But back up to the festival - the yummy ribs on the BBQ were 10 Euros for a small serving!!! Not worth it - I'll save my money for the amazing Basque tapas in San Sebastian.
It's definitely nice hearing Spanish everywhere again, despite the lousy weather. It was raining and I was the only fool in shorts and sandals.
Truth be told, I booked at this hotel because I saw a review from a Spanish guy that the hotel had a "really hot and really kind receptionist". Coming from a Spanish guy, this girl must've been incredible, because with all the beauty in Spain guys MUST have incredibly high standards.
I did notice that the guy receptionist was really kind, and that females would probably find him attractive. I then recalled that the same reviewer from Spain mentioned "there are gay clubs nearby, if you are into that". Damn it, I think he was talking about a guy receptionist! False advertising!!!