Category Archives: Life

Late dinners and “Txikiteo”

  • Menéame0

My roommate took me shopping in Vitoria. it’s about 35 minutes driving with the car. The shoppingmall was a really big building in the outer ring of Vitoria. They a lot of stores. Also a lot of the same stores we have in Holland, like the H&M and The Zara.

When we got home we ate a sandwich in bar Taupa. It is across my house. The owner of the bar is my roommates boyfriend. I was really hungry because it was allready ten. That is a normal time to eat here. You have lunch around three or four and dinner around nine or ten. I have to get used to that.

A lot of times they eat sandwiches or tortillas in the evening.  The sandwiches are called bocadillo’s, and you get half of a baguette. A lot of times people eat meat on theyre sandwich like pork or chicken. I had a sandwich with chicken and cheese. They also put big sweet peppers on the sandwiches.

After I had a little siesta we went out in Mondragon. Together with my roommates and Wilco we went to different bars. It is very normal here to go to a lot of different bars, have a drink in one and then go another. They call this “Txikiteo” what literally means, from bar to bar.

 The bars are very different than in Holland. A lot of them are not really nice to look at( in my opinion). No nice tables or lights . Just a room with a lot of people drinking and bright light. The music is also different. The play a lot of punk. This is the music where a lot of people listen to around here. Also a lot of people have their own band or play in one. I drunk my first Kalimotxo, this is cheap red wine with coca cola and a lot of ice and a lemon in it. It doesn’t sound that nice, i agree. But it is a really bask drink and i actually like it!!

When we got home we ate a sandwich in bar Taupa. The owner of the bar is Leire’s boyfriend.

 I was really hungry cause we had dinner at ten. That is a normal time to eat here. You have lunch around 3 or 4 and dinner around 9 or 10. I have to get used to that.

 After I had a little siesta we went out in Mondragon. Together with Leire, Oihana and Wilco we went to a view different bars. It is very normal here to go to  view bars. Have a drink in one and then go another. They call this “Txikiteo”. The bars are different than in Holland. A lot of them are not really nice to look at. No nice tables or lights . Just a room with a lot of people drinking and bright light. The music is also different. The play a lot of punk. This is the music were a lot of people listen to around here. Also a lot of people have their own band or play in one. I drank my first Kalimotxo, this is cheap red wine with coca cola and a lot of ice. I like it very much

 

shots

A funny thing is that they all drink utch beer here. In every bar they have Heineken and Amstel. They also are familiar with shots. At least my roommates are:P Tequila, Wodka y lima (witch i like the most) and Wodka Negro. From the last one it is better to drink just one shot because your tong and mouth are turning black….

Mountains everywhere

  • Menéame0

We did so much things this weeks that I feel like I am already here for one month instead of one week.  So where do I start? Ah yes, at the beginning…

I arrived in Santander on Saturday morning . Together with Wilco, the other Erasmus student from Windesheim, We took a flight from airport Weeze(Dusseldorf) to Santander. I thought I was going to cry a lot saying goodbye to my mom and boyfriend, but I kept it dry! When we arrived in Santander, we had to take the bus to Bilbao. The bus took about an hour and a half to get there. The view was so beautiful. Mountains everywhere,  with a lot of green and deep valleys. In Holland everything is flat so  I was fascinated by all the pretty nature here. When we arrived in Bilbao my two new roommaes picked us up . They took us by car to Mondragon. At the way over we talked in the car. They are so funny and crazy, I think I am going to like them both very much. My house looks real Spanish with a lot of wooden closets and hooked curtains. My room is nice as well, with a big wooden closet and a desk in it. The view from of my balcony is really pretty.

My balcony view

You can see a couple of real Bask houses and behind that the green mountains. The first thing i did when i arrived was eating pasta and sit on the balkony! The sun was really warm(In Holland it is allready cold) and the view incredible. I think I am going to have a lot of fun here!!

WE are getting famous!!

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Now in EITB news portal they have photo and article about Erasmus student but also the same in a local newspaper. A lot of people recognise us on a street. One day Arwen with Denise (Erasmus student from Holland) were in a gym and one guy came to them and gave a press-cutting with article about us. Besides, Natalie (Erasmus student from Estonia)met a boy, who already knew her because of a newspaper. 

Everybody knows each other in Mondragon, so we are new faces here. It nice to catch attention of others, especially when these others are friendly to you. Basque people are very curious and want to know everything about you and country where you live. They introduce you to their friends and ask to join them. That happens because there not a lot of tourists or foreigners who stay in Arrasate. But some people from Europe come to visit caves and climb mountains. Our housekeeper is working as a guide in caves, so one day we will go there.

First day in Arrasate/Mondragon

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 When I woke up the first thing what i saw when I opened my window were mountains. You can feel the fresh air and freedom everywhere. Live in Modragon is very slowly and relaxed. And I love that. There is no where to hurry.

What are the most important things to do at first day?

  • It is very difficult to get used to siesta. Everyday we have siesta time (from 1-2 pm to 5 pm). At that time nothing works (exept chinese shops) All bank are working only till 1 pm.
  • It is better to do a buscard at first because it will take you one hour in a line in a shop and two weeks of waiting ordinary plastic card. With a card you have almost 50% discount.
  • After you`ll better to buy a phonecard. It costs 10 euro but messages to anothers countries are very expensive. So sometimes it is easier to buy the cheapest phone with a card
  • Also, is very strange to have a dinner at 9-11 pm. In my country (Estonia) we don’t have such an opportunity because most of citizens go sleep at 10 or 11 pm and we take more care about their figure and not eating after 7 pm.
  • Don`t be scared if you meet someone and this someone begins to kiss you and hug you. Basque people are very warm and kind, so they are just happy to see new faces and do that everytime.

At the end of of busy day go to a bar or meet with friend to share your feeling =)

Jon Warren: on San Sebastian and food

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jon-paginaJon Warren first arrived in Donostia-San Sebastian around 2002 on an ordinary summer’s evening that would eventually prove life-changing.

Stopping off for the night during a road trip down to Portugal, the vibrant atmosphere and sight of copious pintxos on the bar convinced Jon and his friend they had hit fiesta-time: “it was like: wow!”

Such was the draw of the place for Jon that on the way back they decided to spend two nights in the Gipuzkoa capital: “We had such a good time; standing on the Concha (beach) I said to my friend: ‘I’m going to live here one day’.”

True to his word, Jon returned to live in the city, though not after four years working in the City of London.

“Working in London.. I never really felt excited. Everyday on a desk,.. doing something I wasn’t passionate about, you think ‘surely this can’t be it’.”

“I quit my job in November 2007 just knowing I wanted to do something else… Doing this, I absolutely love it because every day’s an adventure, doing my own thing.”

Jon’s “own thing” is San Sebastian Food, his own self-run tour business. The aim of the company is to provide tourists over on a short break to the Basque Country with a culinary insight they may otherwise miss. It is inspired in what Jon calls his “six-month gastronomic adventure” sussing out the bars and discovering the best pintxos.

Jon’s personal interest in food is more broadly centred on the entire experience of eating; something which may be linked to some of his earliest memories: “I’ve got some great food memories, but always linked to the people I’m with. “

Reflecting on what aroused his love for all things culinary, Jon recalls his uncle Paddy, an “adventurer” who lived mostly in Sierra Leone, given to roasting whole pigs and baking bread on visits home to the family. It is an almost tangible memory that evokes warm summer evenings and smells of spit-roast pork wafting over lawns of playing children.

Capturing that more sensuous experience is what underlines a lot of Jon’s tours, which move away from the often sterile sensation of a restaurant, to the shouts and smells of a packed bar or busy farmers’ market; “I love Michelin-starred food but I’m a lot more interested in the social side of things,… pintxos, the cider houses, where it’s all about meeting your friends and chatting”.

Life change

Jon made the move to San Sebastian in January 2008. After an 8-week language course at Lacunza he went “armed with dodgy Spanish, a basic CV but plenty of enthusiasm” to seek work at the Villa Soro hotel in Ategorrieta. He did “a bit of everything.. bellboy, porter, barman…” though it would later prove to be a significant decision.

Aside from becoming for many guests an unofficial guide to the best places to eat, he would also, ironically perhaps, meet his English girlfriend Nicole, who came to stay at the hotel one weekend with a group of friends:

“She moved out here last May and I have her to thank for helping me so much; from brain-storming to proof reading she has helped enormously.”

As far as his success this side of the Atlantic, Jon is unreserved in his praise for the Basque people whom he has encountered over the past three years: “They’ve been so incredibly friendly from when I arrived… such warm, open people, so happy to help..

“Thanks to friends, for example, I’ve been able to make contacts with the cheese farm in Urnieta where we Jon Warren - culinar#7B6835do a tour with the owners,” says Jon.

Jon is modest about his own contribution to his success, a trait that goes down well in this part of the world. He is, by his own admission, sociable and often “gets chatting to people”, a characteristic of a natural networker and one that has helped him to open a lot of doors into the heart of the Basque culinary experience, sometimes literally.

Jon says his “strongest” food memory was in the Rioja with Nicole looking for somewhere to eat. With a predilection for talking to people – “old ladies especially” – they were finally led by one senior citizen to a restaurant that was seemingly locked up:

“She turned the lights on and said ‘right, what are you having?’; she cooked this lunch just for us with a nice bottle of wine…

“It was nothing amazing; the TV was blaring and the food wasn’t fabulous but for me that’s what it’s about: That incredible, unique experience”.

Angela Linskey, Naera Haundi: Jam with scruples

  • Menéame0

AngelaShopping for jams in the supermarket, I little expected to find Angela Linskey and much less the discoveries I would make when visiting Naera Haundi where the conserves are made.

Naera Haundi is a four hundred-year-old farmhouse officially in the Basque town of Abaltzisketa, though in reality located down a steep path on the side of a valley at the foothills of the Txindoki mountain, an ideal spot for spending a few days if, as the website says, it is peace and tranquillity you are after.

It is more than 30 years since Angela and her Basque husband Jesus Mari decided to leave San Sebastian to “try the rural lifestyle of a traditional Basque farm.” While perhaps happy to escape the increasing buzz of the city, however, it was a different concern that encouraged this couple to make such a radical change:

“We started getting a bit worried about the food we were eating. We read a book called Your Daily Bread by a woman who had been around a flour-refining factory where they were gassing the flour to make it whiter. We started reading more about what we were eating and it just went on from there. The only clear idea we had was that we wanted another kind of life and it had to be in the sphere of organic farming.”

Naera Haundi is dedicated to growing, processing and selling only organically home-grown fruit jams and jellies. “We make between 12-14,000 jars (of “Nahera” jam) a year. About 75% of that is currently from our own fruit… And the whole process is here – we don’t have any machinery, it’s literally spooning it in.”jams and jellies

The decision of Angela and others like her to pursue organic farming coincided with a growing trend for alternative farming during the 1970s and beyond (though still almost unheard of in the Basque Country) among people disillusioned with conventional methods or routines: “Most of us who started that way are from small or large towns… It was a revolution you see – not just going out and shouting in the streets – to go back and work on the land.”

From trend to trendy

Though organic products continue to have a rather middle-class image, Angela staunchly defends their dietary value: “If you’re eating organic, you’re generally eating very healthily – people eating organic food are not often at the doctors… If you take into account the hydrogenated fats and pesticides in conventional foods, what is that costing a country in its health service?” (Interestingly, the UK’s Soil Association recently published a report confirming the nutritional value of organic to be significantly higher than non-organic foods).

Since their compromise with organic farming over 30 years ago, Naera Haundi have taken steps to broaden their commitment to global issues such as climate change. “We have an installation with photo-voltaic panels for producing electricity… Next to them are thermal solar panels for heating water. We heat water for up to 10-12 people.” (Enough for the maximum 8 people they can put up in two apartments plus themselves).

Then there are the two wood-burning stoves: “Wood- produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as a rotting log,” she explains. “We use the ash – potash – as fertilizer and chip the wood we can’t use for compost.”

I point out that in Vietnam, fishermen on the Mekong recycle everything, including rice husks, out of economic necessity: “I think we need to be poor again,” she concurs. “The amount of things that people throw away.. (My generation) were brought up to think throwing food away was a sin.”

Naera Haundi BaserriOne is reminded of a by-gone era at Naera Haundi and not by accident. The modern obsession with packaging is one of Angela’s major grievances: “It’s just so unnecessary,” she says. She confesses to feeling “out of place” in her hometown of Birstall, West Yorkshire, partly due to the demise of high street shops. “It’s so disappointing – there used to be small shops, the dairy etc; now there’s (sic) just the two supermarkets – it really depresses me.”

Almost forty years have passed since Angela and her sister left Birstall  to embark on a hitchhiking holiday in France, deciding on impulse to come this way. She expresses curiosity at an English woman working for (the inherently Basque) EITB, but Angela’s integration after four decades is profound: “To live on a farm in this country, to understand the Basque culture, you have to speak Euskera… So when we came to (Naera Haundi) we decided we would use Basque all the time.”

The entire eleven acres of Naera Haundi, Angela and Jesus Mari planted themselves; trees include apple, quince and pear, though a recent cyclone in the Basque Country blew down fifty in total, twenty-seven of them pear trees, an all too poignant reminder for the couple of the possible effects of climate change. A massive problem, though possibly with a small solution?

“We just can’t continue with the way we’re consuming now,” saying Angela, “eventually we’re all going to have to go back to the 1950s – and that will be a good thing, not only for the planet, but for people’s health, physical and spiritual.”

Bilbao 2.0

  • Menéame0

After my Erasmus adventure last year, I knew I would someday go back to the Basque Country. The climate, the people, the food, the culture, the cities, the beach, … too many reasons not to come back. A training period at EiTB was the ideal solution to explore Euskal Herria some more.

Koen and I said Gipuzkoa goodbye and moved up north to the inner city of Bilbao (Bizkaia) in the Abando district. An opportunity to live the city life style to the fullest, while we are not restricted by long distances and bus lines (our last stay was in Bergara, approx. 50 km from Bilbao). Bilbao itself has enough to offer, as we knew already.

Tastebuds

Our apartment lies in Indautxu, one of the two neighbourhoods of Abando. It is ideally situated in the heart of the city with everything within walking distance.

Abando by night © Wiki

Abando by night © Wiki

Culturally and gastronomically this is going to be a welcome break from the everyday life back home. My first bite in a pintxo yesterday was a delight for my tastebuds. Don’t get me wrong, Belgium has some great dishes, especially in winter, but the Basques simply take cooking food to another level.

Last time my cultural visits in Bilbao were limited to the unavoidable Guggenheim. This time I’m going look for some alternatives like the Museum of Fine Arts (with a great permanent collection)  or the beautiful Teatro Arriaga. A music concert (Santana 27, Kafé Antzokia) here and there would be nice as well.

The inside of Teatro Arriaga © Astenagusia

The inside of Teatro Arriaga © Astenagusia

¿Que?

My Spanish language skills upgraded from ‘terrible’ to ‘understandable’ which eases social converse and brings with it the opportunity to connect a bit more with locals. But I have still a very long way to go until I can master the language.

Of course the climate is a positive change as well. Although there’s only a small difference of 5°C in comparison to Belgium you notice an immediate shift when you get of the plane. Not exactly Meditarianian but good enough for me.

We’ll see what this city has in store for me…

See you next time!

Agur!

Julia Barnes: ‘A trilingual Basque Country is perfectly possible’

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Julia Barnes aside the statue of Ken Follett in Vitoria-Gasteiz.So says University Lecturer at HUHEZI (Faculty of Humanities and Education) and Erasmus student coordinator, Julia Barnes. Born near Bristol, with her formative years spent in New Zealand, Julia talks to EITB about learning Basque, teaching English and rubbing shoulders with some of Spain’s most famous stars.

You are teaching on a course to Basque students called “Education in Europe and the Global World: Good practice” and all your teaching is in English. Tell us what that entails.

Julia Barnes: It’s a four-year teaching degree for students specializing in various subjects. We don’t actually teach English as such; what we try to do is activate the English the students have been learning since school; we teach topics such as Europe, Education in Wales, Christmas across Europe – all through the medium of English. So essentially they learn English by learning how to learn things in English!

In the third year some students do a two-month teaching practice in Welsh-speaking schools in North Wales and it’s very successful. Although sometimes it’s difficult because they don’t understand all the Welsh, it really gives them an opportunity to compare what happens in Wales with what happens here.

What are some of the key things about teaching people how to teach a second or third language?

Julia Barnes: If you can understand how you learned your first language or languages you’re halfway there. To the people here who are bilingual anyway, it makes sense to them.

You based your PhD on trilingualism, specifically your own children’s – How do you see the possibility of a trilingual Basque Country over the next couple of decades?

Julia Barnes: It’s perfectly possible to do. As soon as people here start being more exposed to English it will just take off. At the moment we’ve got a situation where we’re giving children exposure to English at an early age, but for a short time plus the teaching they’re exposed to is not always ideal as most nursery English teachers haven’t trained to teach English. A new degree we are giving in HUHEZI now will actually train people to be language teachers in infant education.

Tell us what first brought you to the Iberian Peninsular.

Julia Barnes: After A levels ( Bachiller), two friends and I decided to spend a year abroad so we went to Madrid; they came back and I stayed for four years teaching English. Around the same time Franco died: I remember people celebrating all the time. I got involved in the ‘movida madrileña’ and met people like (popular Spanish groups) Burning and Alaska. During the day I worked as an English teacher. But I don’t think I realized at the time just how exciting it was because everything was exciting to me then – I was 18 and I’d just left home.

You’ve lived in England, New Zealand, Madrid and here: What are the main differences between these cultures?

Julia: I tend to think I ended up here because NZ gave me a more relaxed view of life than England: Open air, love of the outside, the beach, the sea and the mountains. I was young at the time, but I have memories of doing things outside. England is more of an inside culture.

When did your Basque adventure start?

Julia: I started learning the language before I had any plans to come here. I was fascinated by it. As part of my studies at university I had to take an exotic language so I chose Basque! Then after passing my PGCE (British teaching certificate) I started working for Eurocentres who had a project with the cooperatives of Mondragon to bring teachers from England to teach English to their employees; I was part of that. I met my husband through it and ended up staying.

What needs to change to improve the possibilities of us becoming tri-lingual?

JB: I think it’s very important for people to realize that all three languages are to be equally valued for different reasons. At the moment, three languages are vying for space, but we’re certainly getting there.

So is there going to be a new generation of fluent English-speaking Basque people in the next ten or fifteen years?

JB: I think so; we are already seeing a huge improvement in the quality of English that students bring to their university studies as a result of the early English programmes, taught in the Basque Country since the nineties. On the other hand, we’re still dealing with Franco’s educational legacy and a generation of teachers educating in a very traditional way, especially in Secondary which is like the last bastion, although teachers are finally in there doing content-based teaching through a foreign language. Once the new multilingual teachers we train enter education I think we’re really going to start seeing a difference, but it’s not quite there yet.

So says University Lecturer at HUHEZI (Faculty of Humanities and Education) and Erasmus student coordinator Julia Barnes. Born near Bristol, with her formative years spent in New Zealand, Julia talks to EITB about learning Basque, teaching English and rubbing shoulders with some of Spain’s most famous stars.  
 
You are teaching on a course to Basque students called “Education in Europe and the Global World: Good practice" and all your teaching is in English. Tell us what that entails.
It’s a four-year teaching degree for students specializing in various subjects. We don’t actually teach English as such; what we try to do is activate the English the students have been learning since school; we teach topics such as Europe, Education in Wales, Christmas across Europe - all through the medium of English. So essentially they learn English by learning how to learn things in English!
 
In the third year some students to do a two-month teaching practice in Welsh-speaking schools in North Wales and it’s very successful. Although sometimes it’s difficult because they don’t understand all the Welsh, it really gives them an opportunity to compare what happens in Wales with what happens here. 
 
What are some of the key things about teaching people how to teach a second or third language?
If you can understand how you learned your first language or languages you’re halfway there. To the people here who are bilingual anyway, it makes sense to them.
 
You based your PhD on trilingualism, specifically your own children’s – How do you see the possibility of a trilingual Basque Country over the next couple of decades? 
It’s perfectly possible to do. As soon as people here start being more exposed to English it will just take off. At the moment we’ve got a situation where we’re giving children exposure to English at an early age, but for a short time plus the teaching they’re exposed to is not always ideal as most nursery English teachers haven’t trained to teach English. A new degree we are giving in HUHEZI now will actually train people to be language teachers in infant education.
 
Tell us what first brought you to the Iberian Peninsular
After A levels ( Bachiller) , two friends and I decided to spend a year abroad so we went to Madrid; they came back and I stayed for four years teaching English. Around the same time Franco died: I remember people celebrating all the time. I got involved in the ‘movida madrileña’ and met people like (popular Spanish groups) Burning and Alaska. During the day I worked as an English teacher. But I don’t think I realized at the time just how exciting it was because everything was exciting to me then – I was 18 and I’d just left home. 
 
You’ve lived in England, New Zealand, Madrid and here: What are the main differences between these cultures?
I tend to think I ended up here because NZ gave me a more relaxed view of life than England: Open air, love of the outside, the beach, the sea and the mountains. I was young at the time, but I have memories of doing things outside. England is more of an inside culture. 
 
When did your Basque adventure start?
I started learning the language before I had any plans to come here. I was fascinated by it. As part of my studies at university I had to take an exotic language so I chose Basque! Then after passing my PGCE (British teaching certificate) I started working for Eurocentres who had a project with the cooperatives of Mondragon to bring teachers from England to teach English to their employees; I was part of that. I met my husband through it and ended up staying.
 
What needs to change to improve the possibilities of us becoming tri-lingual?
I think it’s very important for people to realize that all three languages are to be equally valued for different reasons. At the moment, three languages are vying for space, but we’re certainly getting there. 
 
So is there going to be a new generation of fluent English-speaking Basque people in the next ten or fifteen years?
I think so; we are already seeing a huge improvement in the quality of English that students bring to their university studies as a result of the early English programmes, taught in the Basque Country since the nineties. On the other hand, we’re still dealing with Franco’s educational legacy and a generation of teachers educating in a very traditional way, especially in Secondary which is like the last bastion, although teachers are finally in there doing content-based teaching through a foreign language. Once the new multilingual teachers we train enter education I think we’re really going to start seeing a difference, but it’s not quite there yet.