THIS ONE’S FOR THE SAINTS

So All Saint’s Day is a thing here…a thing that is celebrated nationally. So during the 10 day vacation I traveled to Pau—a city near the Spanish coast where I studied abroad 2 years ago—as well as to 2 cities in Spain: Vitoria and Bilbao.

PAU: 10.24-10.30
I had the pleasure of visiting my former host family in Bizanos as well as reconnecting with a couple university friends who are still living in Pau. I didn’t get a chance to capture all of the moments, but the memories will stay with me nonetheless.

The first night I attended a basketball game between 2 French professional club teams—the Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez VS the Champagne Châlons-Reims Basket. Pau was in the lead until the last quarter. Sitting in the stands, I started to become nostalgic remembering the few university football games I attended. Similar to what I encountered at the University of Maryland, College Park, when it was evident that Pau’s team was going to lose some fans started filing out of the stadium. The final score was 83 – 91. Something that I found surprising was that the majority of both team’s starters were American players. We’re everywhere…

Over the next few days one could say that I ‘rediscovered’ Bizanos and Pau. Due to road reconstruction work taking place in Bizanos about 5 bus stops weren’t being serviced. This is what I discovered when I tried to take the bus into downtown Pau only to be hit with the following public service announcement posted on the various stops.

This stop is not being serviced
This stop is not being serviced
A park in Bizanos
A park in Bizanos
Colorful stairs near the castle
Colorful stairs near the castle
Downtown hasn't changed :)
Downtown hasn’t changed 🙂
Host dad and bro
Host dad and bro
Bizanos
Bizanos

From new experiences to old ones, my time in Pau was very rewarding. I watched a canoe freestyle competition, went to the movies to see Gone Girl and Samba, as well as ate at a Spanish restaurant and then at a Mexican one. I enjoyed the familiarity of going running with my host mom on Sunday and catching up with old friends.

Canoe competition
Canoe competition
Host family at the canoe park
Host family at the canoe park
Filet Mignon my host mom made
Filet Mignon my host mom made
Pizzas my host mom made
Pizzas my host mom made
Eating LeClerc’s delish bacon roll at a friend’s place
Eating LeClerc’s delish bacon roll at a friend’s place

It was nice to return to Pau after 2 years—to come back to this place where I learned and experienced so much—with my increased knowledge, curiosity, and understanding.

VITORIA: 10.30-11.2
Why Vitoria? Why this small city situated in the Spanish Basque country where all the street signs I saw were written in Spanish and Basque? And where the dreaded mullets the men sported displayed their Basque pride? The answer is Abena, a university friend who’s currently working as an English language assistant here. From the first night, I was thrust into typical “Vitorian” life. Abena introduced me to pinxto pote Thursday. Pinxto (pronounced pincho) is the Northern Spanish version of tapas. We barhopped for a couple hours, filling our bellies with these yummy snacks.

Pinxto
Pinxto
Abena and I
Abena and I

She showed me around her city, and we spent Halloween together dancing the night away.

IMG_8356

BILBAO: 11.1
On All Saints Day we took a day trip to Bilbao. It was a beautiful city, and we walked about every inch of it. The only downside was that due to the public holiday practically the only things open were churches and bars.

In front of the Guggenheim Museum
In front of the Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum
Turkish delight from an Iranian vender
Turkish delight from an Iranian vender

That evening we headed back to Vitoria, and the next day I took the train back to Montpellier. I’m still not sure who is supposed to be commemorated on November 1, but a big thanks to them regardless!

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