palmera

alive and hiking Pagasarri

mountains

Despite the brooding tone of my last post and my subsequent silence implying that I died from the cold from which I was suffering more than a month ago, I am still alive and well. Indeed, I’m thriving, as much as I believe is possible for me to do during these brief months in Bilbao. The reason for my absence, for anyone who hasn’t heard from my parents or grandparents, is not that I’ve been so terribly busy with schoolwork – though sometimes I have been – nor that I have been having all kinds of grand adventures – though I’ve enjoyed several day trips – and most certainly not because I have a Spanish boyfriend – though it has been suggested numerous times as the best way for improving my language skills. No, I stopped blogging simply because we had no internet in my apartment for more than a month. Our contract with one internet provider ended and with it the wifi in our house. Borja, the seemingly most responsible housemate of the six of us, dutifully contracted a new and cheaper provider, who informed us that it would take some days for the technician to come install a modem/router/whatever was necessary, but it wouldn’t be too long – certainly no more than 20 days at the very very maximum. Oh what lies! The 20 days flew by and so did the next 20, and I spent my precious daylight hours hiking back and forth from the library to do translation homework and my weekend evenings bundled up against the chill and huddled in the corner of an outdoor courtyard, using the school wifi to skype my parents in the bright beam of the nighttime floodlights of my deserted university. I became an expert at typing up a few sentences about my day with my thumbs and keeping my family and best friend more-or-less updated on my life via instant messages on my phone with its precious few megabites of data. And between all that and the rest of life, I had no time to be spending sitting at school typing up blog posts.

As I’m wont to do, I’m making the whole situation sound much more dramatic than it actually was. After I got used to it, I quite enjoyed my increased homework productivity and the fact that I spent entire weekends reading or exploring. Millennial that I am, the computer has an undeniable draw for me, so it was freeing to escape its addictive grasp for a while. Nevertheless, I was thrilled when, after several strangely unsuccessful visits and a number of phone calls, the Movistar man finally descended from his cyber-throne and deigned to provide us with internet on Wednesday evening. “O frabjous day! Callooh Callay!” (I do so adore that strange Carroll poem, just as much as I’m disturbed by his prose.)

I suppose I’ll have to do a bit of back-posting to summarize a few of the notable little trips I’ve taken, but for now let’s just stick with today.

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Three friends and I hiked up a small mountain outside of town at the recommendation of one of our professors. We essentially followed some instructions we found on the internet on the way up and then took our own way down, while still making use of the dozens of helpful sign posts along the way.

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The hike up Pagasarri from the center of town took us about 2 hours and 45 minutes, including lots of breaks and a few long-cuts. They aren’t kidding when they say “shortcuts lead to long delays.”

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At the top of the hill was what’s termed a “refuge” in Spanish but essentially amounts to miniature restaurant, and we couldn’t have been happier to hand over our euros for some large omelette-on-bread pintxos (the Basque name for tapas, essentially), which we enjoyed in the glorious sunshine on the hillside.

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When we parted ways after returning to Bilbao, I made a bee-line for a pastery and candy shop I’d spied a few weeks ago, which boasted filled versions (mine had dulce de leche, a caramel-like substance) of my favorite pastry here: the palmera. Though the one I tried was only fair, I intend to dedicate a whole post to my study of the buttery wonder of palmeras in general.

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Now I’m off to spend the evening playing card games with more friends (all Americans, mind you – that’s a longer story) for the evening. We’re even meeting in a bar. Talk about a contrast from my last post. Ha!

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