The weather has really been so perfect here for me. I couldn’t ask for better weather. I woke up after a restless night of sleep. This hotel has a lot of street noise. I’m here on a weekend and so maybe it’s just an unusually loud weekend, being Halloween and I believe there’s a university near here, but it’s so loud. People were still out at 4:30 this morning. I have noticed that people have a tendency to feel as though they need to fill space with noise. When they find themselves in the big pedestrian plaza across the street from here, they feel the need to scream and shout just to fill the space. It’s a funny sort of human trait that I’ve noticed more here than in other places. Also, it wakes me up, so I notice it, too.
Anyway, after a restless night, I woke up and headed out to find the big park on top of the hill that I wanted to go and chill out in today. I took a book and headed out. It’s a huge park called Parque Etxebarria and it’s on top of a hill with lots of stuff going on this morning. There were two little league soccer games going on, lots of dogs and their owners out for a romp, and families out for a stroll. One dog had a red frisbee and his only interest was having his owner flip it across the wide open space so he could run and catch it. He had a great leap-and-catch move! Then he’d carry his frisbee around in his mouh for a bit, meeting other dogs, and then go find his owner and drop it at her feet with a bark and the entire thing would start again. It was so cute. I only saw one dog on a leash. The dogs are all well-behaved and don’t seem to get into any sort of mischief on their outings, I guess.
The park was up a ton of stairs. I was wheezing by the time I got to the top. I walked all over and it was good until I ended up behind an older man who made me uncomfortable by walking ahead of me and stopping every few meters to look back at me. Eventually, I passed by him and he came up to me from behind and started asking me questions in Spanish that I couldn’t fully understand. Like the American joke goes when people can’t understand English, when I couldn’t understand what he said, he would repeat it louder rather than slower or using simpler language. So, he ended up shouting questions at me in Spanish on top of a hill in a park in Bilbao. He asked me if I was alone and I said that No, I wasn’t. After which he wanted to know where the others were but didn’t seem to believe me when I told him they were just down the hill eating and I was just out for a walk. When I finally got away from him, I just walked and read in a busier location before heading back down the hill and hanging out on the Paseo by the river. There was a flower market (there was one yesterday, too, so maybe there is one each weekend?). There was a musician dressed in Peruvian attire with a couple of marionettes and a toy alpaca and he was playing Simon and Garfunkle’s “The Sound of Silence” to a small crowd gathered around him. He was good at playing the instruments and makeing the marionettes dance to the tune. I kept walking and ended up at the plaza directly across from my hotel.
It’s a nice pedestrian area with benches and a playground and a little gazebo cafe. It also has a book shop! It was open every day I’ve been here and it’s 5 long stalls full of books. It seems really popular. I never saw the stalls completely customer-free.
It’s a shop called Libros Y Cosas (www.librosycosas.com) and has, as it says, lots of books and things. Old books, newer releases, coloring books, children’s picture books, artwork, etc. There were a couple of books in English, but mostly all in Spanish. English is not really spoken here much at all. I feel like this is an area that hasn’t had the influx of English tourists as other parts of Spain or other European countries like France or Italy. I expect maybe the Southern part of Spain would have more English speakers because it’s definitely the more popular tourist area of the country. I came back to the hotel after my mostly relaxing morning and early afternoon and I’ve just been eating a bit of lunch and listening to the radio and relax. I’ve got the nice sitting area here in my bigger hotel room and it’s got two front facing windows that look out onto the plaza and main intersection, which make for fantastic people-watching. I saw some sort of political protest in the plaza in front of the theater across the street and then a parade of cyclists blowing whistles came by. Lots of kids were in the cycling parade. I saw two grandparents on the sidewalk excitedly waving and cheering at two little ones in their helmets trying to bike by. The cyclists and protestors weren’t together, but they all sort of ended up together for a minute.
Tomorrow I leave Bilbao and head off to begin my Camino de Santiago! I have a train ticket for the morning and it should take me most of the day to get to Ponferrada. I’m on the train that’s called the Camino De Santiago because it goes along the Way. I hope to meet some pilgrims and see some of the towns that are farther West than Ponferrada.