I only exist during the weekend. A sob story, starring me.

I haven’t really taught such a broad range of ages and temperaments at the same time before. Apparently this has resulted in me spending every moment I’m not teaching, training to teach this motley crew.I’ve got a few issues in the teaching arena. One-not much of a fan of implementing rigid routines and silence in the classroom. They are effective but also sometimes creepy and Big-Brotheresque “GoodmorningOrlaHowareyouI’mfinethankshowareyou.”

But I think the main problem is I’d rather save my time and energy composing nice lesson plans for some of the classes I actually impart knowledge to.I do appreciate the observations, professional development, support meetings but living for the weekend can wear a girl out. It’s one short trip down to the well of baguette despair.

So when the weekend arrives. It arrives! We take the weekend seriously. Opportunities for entertainment are endless here. We are only a short trip away from lots of interesting places to visit. A few weeks ago I headed to Pamplona and this weekend I bussed it to Bilbao. Two places that I’d been warned were not so good. By a wide range of individuals. Both places I really liked for different reasons.

If you want older architecture, a relaxing day and colours, you should travel to Pamplona. It’s a bright and quiet city with some very pretty parks and a beautiful old part. If I could describe it in one line I would say that it is like someone planted a city in the middle of nowhere, sprayed it with vibrant blues and oranges and injected it with blood, invisible to the naked eye. The bullfighting tradition of Pamplona was not literally present when I visited but you could feel the rumble of bull hooves on cobblestone and its vigorous energy flowing through the streets.

I had a very sleepy day there, filled with food, drinks and coffee and rambles through the parks and streets. It’s a place you can go without plan or agenda and simply experience.

Beautiful views in Pamplona
Beautiful views in Pamplona

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Bilbao on the other hand, is a place where it is probably best to have a vague outline of your day. Mainly because there’s a lot more to see but also because it’s a big city in comparison  with Donostia or Pamplona. And with big cities come the highs and lows of urban living. Many people warned me before I went to Bilbao that it basically wasn’t that pretty. That seems to be the ultimate goal of today. I almost wanted to defend this city I hadn’t ever met from its tormentors.  Hey Bilbao is the weird-looking kid who grew up cool.

Within two minutes of setting my feet down in Bilbao, I saw a man climbing into a dustbin to get food. Not the greatest poster to attract tourists but having lived in the affluent sanctuary of San Sebastian for the past three months, it was a refreshing kick back to earth. I started my time in Bilbao by getting lost almost on purpose while trying to enter the Guggenheim. Dying of exhaustion and spatially challenged, I had to take a break and grab a Café Solo from a café whose menu was entirely in Euskara. I believe that that is the first time I’ve seen this and while my Irish self inwardly rejoiced, outwardly I was confused and ordered awkwardly in hideous Spanish.

The Guggenheim I enjoyed immensely. Maybe this was because literally everyone had told me it was terrible. I’m fairly stubborn like that. My favourite pieces were probably on the ground floor. The third floor was closed so I’m not sure what I missed. I loved Installation for Bilbao by Jenny Holzer and the Alex Katz exhibition. It’s taken me awhile and several museums to embrace contemporary art but as I looked at an Alex Katz piece yesterday, I realised that one reason contemporary art draws us to it is that we project ourselves into the pieces. That’s what brings the pieces to life. That’s why I could see leaves moving in the wind and not splotches of green. Maybe this is a new level of hipster goals that I’ve finally reached.


Guggenheim insides
Guggenheim insides

So until I got lost on the way to the bus station, Bilbao was cool. I saw a lot of huge architecture, hipster cafés and finally found a Tiger shop in the old town. Christmas stamps and foam alphabets for all the kids! Unfortunately I got hopelessly lost with no cash on the way to catch my bus. It was a weird situation  because I’ve visited many big cities, I genuinely live for cities and yet I was suddenly aware of threat for the first time in months and switched on a button which has been turned off for a long time. The results of turning on that button were not positive. A load dropped on my shoulders and I felt fear. I may have become a totally relaxed idiot in Donostia but there is something to be said for that security. It’s not something I’m used to but it’s something that has to be good for you. Not looking over your shoulder. Not hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

The rest of my weekend adventures, although generally depressingly PG, are not really worth a feature in this blog post. Maybe in the future I’ll share some of Party Street’s exploits or tales from the Dabadaba bathrooms. Just wait for the Invigilation Training session stories. Mindblowing stuff.

Other news- I’m progressing slightly in Spanish. I have a teacher who is simply made for my terrible attention span- Ignacio and I literally can’t think of a better way to spend Friday morning than learning about “Misadventures in Spanish- I cooked my housemate/I cooked for my housemate.” I’ve progressed so swiftly (reading Harry Potter in Spanish) that the woman who serves me a weekly lunch in Bideluze said that my ordering skills were “muy bueno” and “fuerza.” Insert blushface emoji here.

Short term goals: visit Biarritz or Bayonne, write another blog swiftly, speak more French and Spanish, read a goddamned book.


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