During my sophomore year in high school, the Spanish Department organized a two week exchange program to Bilbao, Spain. At the time, I was beyond terrified to go on a trip such as this: I could barely speak a word of Spanish, I didn’t really know any of the other students going, and in no way was I living with a host family for two weeks. However, this past weekend our excursion was to Bilbao. Walking around the beautiful streets of Bilbao, I did regret not participating in this exchange program as the city has a very deep history, culture and had extremely interesting architecture. However, I was also very proud of myself that I overcame my anxieties that had plagued me during high school, and finally made it to Bilbao.
On the way to Bilbao we made a stop at the Sanctuario de Loyola, which is a basilica for Saint Ignatius. Our group was able to tour around the gorgeous basilica and the house where Saint Ignatius read several books and pondered aspects of life that ultimately lead him to become the founder of the Jesuits. We all thought that this was very cool, for if it were not for Saint Ignatius, we would not have our beloved Holy Cross! After , we drove to Bilbao. Our first stop in Bilbao was, of course, the Guggenheim museum. Confession- I am not a big museum person. My parents can attest to this, because whenever they want to tour an art museum I would much rather look around the gift shop or sit on the bench in the lobby. However this time, I thought I would be a little more socially acceptable and walk around the museum. First, the architecture of the Guggenheim is absolutely fascinating. I was amazed by its various curves, hidden rooms, huge windows and winding staircases. Frank Gehry, the architect, also designed the new and popular outdoor concert space in Millennium Park in Chicago. His architecture has changed museum design and concert halls worldwide in dramatic ways. I also really enjoyed the artwork, as most of it was very modern and had a deep significance connected to anti-war sentiments, love, or daily life. However, the piece of art that I liked the most was a huge floral dog statue outside the Guggenheim. I was astonished as to how this dog was created with only flowers, and I could have stared at it for hours.
After touring the museum for two hours, my friends Kelsey, Liz, and I walked the streets of Bilbao. We walked everywhere, from the museum to the older part of the city, across several bridges and through multiple parks. We also came across several interesting sculptures that we were allowed to climb and admire the view from above.
Dato Divertido: Spanish playing cards and U.S. cards are completely different. A Spanish deck of cards has 40 cards where as the traditional U.S. deck has 52. The other night, our coordinator Julian, taught a few of us how to play Spanish cards. Coming from a family of card players…I was very excited. Each of the games that we played was similar to a U.S. game, but was still distinct. I was so excited to learn these games, that I bought a pack of my own…so now I can teach my family and friends back in the States!