What is (daily) life?

I have been in Bilbao for about three days now and I am still having trouble figuring things out.

For one thing, I was told by a local to expect the weather in Bilbao to be cold, rainy, and downright miserable this time of year. This, I learned, is so far from the truth I wonder what their opinion of “good weather” is. Today was sunny, warm, and windy; basically the perfect weather. I was able to walk around the city in jeans and a t-shirt comfortably.

This brings me to the second thing confusing me about Bilbao. Despite it being seventy degrees Fahrenheit, the majority of people walk around in heavy coats with boots and scarves. My guess is that everyone shops so much that this is the coldest it gets for them to excusably wear that cute fur-lined coat they bought last spring.

The nightlife is another thing I don’t understand yet. In my defense, I haven’t met anyone to go out with yet so my “nightlife” so far has consisted of me walking around the city at night looking for cool places to go once I find the friends. Sad, I know. Anyway, what I have noticed is that the bars in Bilbao aren’t really situated in one or a few areas like they are in Austin. On almost every block, there are people clustered outside of tiny holes in the wall, spilling onto the sidewalks talking animatedly with a glass of wine or a pint of beer. Near my apartment, there are a few of these café/bars located around the plaza where parents sit and watch their kids play soccer with the other neighborhood kids so the area stays pretty lively into the night.

I was also under the impression that all Spaniards party past midnight and into the morning (those siestas give them the energy, right?), but, in my neighborhood, everyone seems to be in bed by 11pm. Admittedly, the only people I have seen at the bars look to be at least twice my age so maybe I’m looking in the wrong area.

Back to the siestas, I still don’t know when they are supposed to happen. When I spent a summer in Granada it was obvious when you took your siesta because there was literally no one on the street, everything was closed, and it was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Here, cafés stay open all afternoon and the streets along the river seems to always have people walking along them. So, right now I’m not really sure when to nap or whether to nap at all. Life in Bilbao is hard, obviously.

Hopefully, I’ll make some friends once classes start tomorrow and I can finally find someone to answer these questions that have been bugging me since I arrived.


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