Bilbao

Being in the grey city of London for a while starts to become depressing especially after spending some summer days in Rio de Janeiro last january so I decided very last minute to buy tickets and fly to Bilbao at the Basque Country in Spain. The main purpose of this trip is to take part of the CouchSurfing 3rd Bilbao Mundiala Meeting. What is that? A 3 days event where locals introduce visitors their city and culture throughout some fun activities, parties and much more…

The event organised by the CouchSurfing community of Bilbao takes place from 7th till 10th March. I arrived at 8pm to Bilbao from London Heathrow after a 2 hours flight, I then took a bus from the airport to the city centre it’s juste 1.40 euros and takes about 25 minutes to drop its passengers at the centre. I was so excited at first to take part of this event and visit the Basque Country for the first time. I have actually been to Spain many times but never to that region.

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On arrival, I easily check into Ganbara Hostel one of the best hostels in the city according to reviews I read but here is mine:

Ganbara Hostel is located at the Old Town very close to a Casco Viejo metro station, supermarkets, restaurants, bars and all the areas of entertainment and nightlife. The check-in was quick as the system had my name on it. I noticed that the hostel was fairly new and well maintained. I stayed at the 8 beds room to socialise with people but also the reception made sure that we (the CouchSurfing people) stay in the same rooms. Something I don’t like about some hostels is that they sell you all other extras such as sheets, locker and breakfast but all was included here in the same price, I did not worry about anything and another extra: free tea and coffee all day. Although, the breakfast was okay: bread, jam, juices of different kinds, cereals, milk, tea, coffee,… And the reception is clean, there is a TV, computers to use and two main socialising areas. The beds are quite comfortable and clean. Although the bathroom gets messy very quickly by the 8 persons staying at the room it was cleaned once during the 2 nights I stayed there. I really had a great time at Ganbara Hostel and I’m glad the organisers recommended this hostel to me.

I had a quick chat with the manager who was also the owner, he was helpful keeping me updated with events of the day and showing me where to go. I think the success of this hostel is really that it’s a family business, the owner and his wife take care of the guests with so much attention and great hospitality.

preloadIf you want to stay at the Ganbara Hostel, the only hostel in the Old Town of Bilbao, book your bed here: http://www.ganbarahostel.com/

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Following my check-in, I ran to a bar that became hub for the events of the week-end. I had a dinner with around 100 people from CouchSurfing who came to the welcome party. We played some games, talked and quickly made friends. I was really happy to be in a room full of friendly people coming from different countries and locals very enthusiastic to welcome us in their city. The same night, I have started recording videos for the Vlog section so episode 3 will be about this crazy city-break in Bilbao!

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The next day, I have discovered the city whilst playing a Treasure Hunt. My team’s name was Harria Garriak which means “Team Wonderful” in Basque. It was indeed a wonderful team as we had a great time exploring the city and we also won the competition! Around town, some stops include the Guggenheim Museum that I found quite exceptional and special, its facade is spectacular. With all the sun reflecting on its bright color I would just stare at it forever! Unfortunately I did not access it inside. The Treasure Hunt led us to San Mames Stadium, the Iberdola Tower, Plaza Idauchu with its very modern church, Plaza Nueva and throughout the Old Town. Bilbao is actually very famous for its modern art, so the streets are very interesting to walk in and discover some art pieces such as the covered fountain!

At night, we had a salsa class and party all night long. The following morning I took part of the Flashmob organised at Plaza Nueva, participants had to take colourful umbrellas and dance around the square.

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For my last evening, I spent it with Agatha from Poland currently living in Bilbao. She took me to the costal towns around 40 minutes by train from Bilbao. We had a walk around and hiked up to a hill to watch sunset. It was once again a spectacular moment where I just closed my eyes for a moment and enjoyed the silence and the sound of nature. Then I realised I was alive again… ready to get back to London and work for my law test.

Stay tuned, I'm coming to a city near you! Middle-East is next! :)