Friday, 31 August 2012

Looking for Spain - On the way to Santader

On we went, leaving Bilbao behind. The road is our fellow friend and time our allie. We move at the pace we decide to set, and the land shape itself in front of our eyes. Others pass by us, with the very same blazing look; an adventurer, of an intense tranquilness that push us forward, towards Santander.

As we get closer and closer, the mountains start to get more dense and big (Picos de Europa are getting nearer). We cannot see them yet but, being closer from the big family of rocky mountains do have an impact on the landscape. The land become more steep, less flat. However, it seems like the place to be at the time. Going forth, until our very last stop of the day.

It was almost dawn when we got here. And being tired as we were, our bodies didn't wanted to walk very much. Also, the city was too metropolitan for the likes of our journey, hence deciding not to round about as much but rather go for a little walk and rest more, for there are still many days ahead of us.

After a small snack, we walked back to our dodgy, loud and only available place for us to stay at; a rental studion, almost at the outskirts of Santander. There were no commodities like a lot of us would want to have. Anyway, all we needed was there: a bed, a shower a morning breakfast, and free wifi, to look up for ways and wheres to go on our big journey!

Not knowing for sure how nor when to making a head of, we go to sleep, waiting for what tomorrow will bring!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Looking for Spain - Bilbao

Bilbao… what can I say about it? Well, from what I can see, it is a quiet, clean city; it has a grand source of income because of turism, in which I am included, of course. Yet, you don't see an abundance of foreigners in Bilbao. The turism that I witnessed more of a nacional turism over international, which pleased me a lot! Not that I don't want to see people from other countries there, for I am from another place, but to have the chance, while there, to have the most of the country, in the sense that, in the end, even if not true, you get to have a more genuine (perhaps) experience…?

Well, rather than just speculate about what might be best or not as a travel experience, let me take you around my experience of Bilbao, and from that, I'll let speculate as much as you want :)

Like I said previously, quiet enough. Rather, tranquil enough for me to feel safe going round about with my camera on my hands and keep safe the visions of it with me. To be shared now, with you.
The old town, casco viejo, how the people of these lands say it - I find it way more curious and ancient, even though there are other - had a very tropical feeling to it, almost as if I was in Central America, when I entered Plaza Nueva.

Such small, yet friendly streets give the old town a very almost ancient like to the place and, when turning to the right, we stumble upon such a tradicional family, the entire place seems to go back a couple of years in time, triggering all sorts of ideias of how life might have been a couples of decades, even centuries ago. Thing like such that really make me stop, become really excited and then I disappear, inside my camera, running around, trying to find a nice spot to make those moments last.
And it's so incredibly rewarding when you do that and what you've done really does work! I and say this, not wanting to nominate my photographs as wonderfully exceptional, but just bolding the preoccupation of, while traveling, making the most out of it. And I mean it all of it. Don't get too absorbed on your camera and just making pictures, be worried about what is going on around you. Understanding the surrounding and realising how the environment is or works will definitely help you and increase the chances of making a better documentary, if you like, of whatever place you are in.
And then, after a bit of walking around, finding some churches closed, we rode up, to the very top of the city (inside the city). We took an elevator, that looked like some sort of soviet kind of construction, in the sense of the look of it, the solidity and feel of it. But this wasn't our last stop, oh no!!

We carried on and went inside the upper part of the city, walking toward a grand basilic, also closed - tough luck -, big as a cathedral can be, beautifully decorated and filled with walking spaces around it, with gardens of all sorts - very simple, yet amazing to have a seat with friends and enjoy the views over the hill.
It is called Begoña's Basilic, located a bit south east from the casco viejo and even though it was closed,  we had just enough time to round about until our stomaches started asking for food, time when we set down towards the center again, this time walking our way down, through the a bit of the rout of Santiago. On the way, we crossed paths with two cyclists that were looking for an Albergaria to leave their heavy gear down, rest their backs and restore their energies for the track ahead them.
And like them, we did the same.

A good snack, water to hidrate us, and a small coffee was just enough put our tiredness and fatigue away - at least for a few hours - and, facing the river, we walked along it, towards the sea side. We didn't go there as it wasn't how plan but to pass through and visit what we couldn't do the day before: visit the Guggenheim.

There is a lot to say about Guggenheim. It is definitely worth seeing and photographing, if you like the sound of it when it's sunny, or foggy. Cloudy weather makes it less magnificent and less reflective or interesting when side by side with a sunny day. And surprise! Like the outside, the inside is a joy for the eye. No wall is equal, the lines are curly, dynamic and embracing. Truly an amazing space to try your senses and expand them, alongside with the magnificent pieces of wart there displayed. Not really a cheap fare to visit it, but a must visit, if your there, considering the architecture and art work of the place. Also, you get free audio phones to listen to a broad description of the pieces, although I find them to be to long and somehow boring. But anyway, you get them free of charge and it might add some perspectives you might not see!

As I left the building, while Anabela, my father and brother were at the souvenir shop, I left through the left exit, close by and waited for them. As I left the building, a man on it's fifties, by the look of it, was doing what I have been doing for the last two days: holding a camera, with a tripod on it's waist, shooting here and there. Until the point he took notice of my presence and came to me and we started talking. He is a spanish photographer, born not too far from where we where, who spent a big part of his life working and living out of photography. It was brilliant to see that and how one manages to work that out. The down side of it - being him mostly a nature photographer - was that a big deal of his time is spent out of his family, "lost" in the woods, waiting for the conditions to be perfect and grab with his camera the light that sines through.
A couple of minutes passed, embracing a good conversations and having perspectives of how a photographer and it's life can be combined or not - it suits whoever feels like - I realised that the three of them weren't there yet, thus me having to have a break on the conversation, when Fernando said to be there at the end of the day to photograph a bit more of the display, until night fall. 
I said 'see you in a bit' and went around, to find them on a bench, opposite the exit I had left through, patiently waiting for my return.

At the evening, I head back to Guggenheim, to find him photographing on the other side of the river. I didn't crossed over, as I found it nicely and also the sky light was fading away so I had to move quick, if I wanted to have some "decent" photographs. When he came to this side, we carried on the conversation and at the end, just before each took it's own way, I walked him to his van, where we had set his moving house - for the time Fernando is in the wilderness. We swapped contacts and right before the very end, he offered me one of his books, signed by him! I couldn't feel more flattered by that action and it made my day. Such opportunities are at the around the corner and we have only to embrace them.

For that, I dedicate this post to him and all that helped making this journey happen.
See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Looking for Spain - the beginning

Morning started early, as early it could be. The sun was not yet up when we had our breakfast and soon after the sun shined a light on, we were on the road, on the way to discover the lost trails of Spain.

Up the mountains we went, north. And further north we went, passing the misty mountains, the green high hills and finally the fronteer. We're in Catalonian lands now. 

Following the big snaky road heading Bilbao, we planned a stop, before the destination of the first day. Half way through, just before our lunch break, we stopped to give some food to the car, feed ourselves and stretch our legs. As to my brother, we was still asleep.

The landscape, as we head East, changed, and so did the weather. We carried on for a few more hours alongside Santiago de Compostela's way (not more than 100 meters from the main road), while seeing people walking and cycling the way we are soon to make.

Cloudy and grey. Some spits of rains from time to time. This was the climate situation when we got to Burgos. A picturesque town, cosy by the looks of it (despite the time we spent here), tranquil and smooth paced. Because of the time we had ahead of us, we weren't allowed to stay much time wandering around and about Burgos so, right after a quick walk near the main cathedral and the old side of town,  we set forth on the road.

Just before I carry on with this tale, and for those who are unfamiliar with the meaning of Burgos, this word is used to designate a comercial city, developed outside the walls of the urban, landlord settlements; they appeared around XI - XV a.C..
The word itself, Burgo, comes from the latin Burgus, which means 'small fortress, village'.

The road, always waiting for us to be with her led us, with the help or mislead of the GPS, to our destination. The arid lands of Central Spain, halfway through the country, became green again and mountains showed again to ourselves. No, after having crossed the portuguese mountains and the arid flat lands of the spanish people, they were again here to embrace us and thus and our first big spot was just behind them.

With no desire to go back, after almost a day of ridding and the green, forestry mountains to make us company, not more a long path was between us and Bilbao, were we were to stay in for two days.

Two days to give us time to rest from a journey of a bit more than 700km. When I think of it, it's not that of a distance to make. However, to remain still and confined to the same space, in a car, for an entire day, with but a few stops to stretch, and go inside again... it can become quite discomfortable and tiring, for those who can't enjoy the pace of going on, and carry on, until the very end of the day, after the sun is set. And then, give grace to the comfort of a good, good bed.

We arrived at the end of the day and everything was closed, even the Gug museum. A little walk on the surroundings and a bit of planning about the most interesting spots to visit during our stay, we remained more to ourselves than to the city and, still early in the evening all of us were resting for the incoming days!

Welcome to Bilbao!