Tag Archives: Vitoria-Gasteiz

Autumn in Vitoria

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We, Natalja and I, have visited Vitoria. We came there at about 4 pm to walk around and make some pictures. It was very beautiful day: no clouds, a little bit of sunshine and no wind. This autumn weather makes you feel very romantic and comfortable.

From my point of view, Vitoria is very beautiful and pleasant place. In some moment I felt like in Tallinn, that’s why I had and still have a feeling of nostalgia.

In Vitoria there are a lot of narrow streets, ancient buildings, churches and cathedrals. You can also relax in a quite park, sitting on a bench and eating warm croissant.

I think, this is an ideal place for dates =).

There are located few chocolaterías in Vitoria, which make this city much warmer and more sweet. La Peña Dulce is a confeteria in the centre of Vitoria. Is is a good place to buy sweets for a present.

Also, you can visit different museums. For example, there is Artium. There are different exhibitions of a modern art, cinema, theatre, library and some shops.

Moreover, Vitoria is a good place to make shopping. There are a lot of interesting shops in a centre city, which we don’t have in Estonia (don’t know about other countries). More fare away is located a big shopping mall called Boulevard, there you can find the most popular international brands.

At the end of the tour it is very nice to sit in croissanteria, drink some coffee and take a fresh bun.

Viktoria in Vitoria

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It was the first time when we went out in a real club. I mean “real” because in Mondragon there are no clubs, only bars. So we took the last bus to Vitoria-Gasteiz at 9.30 pm, our new arrival of Erasmus students and something to drink with. The bus goes approximately half an hour but it took us the whole hour because lady bus driver had problems to cope with a hilly road.

At first, in Vitoria we went searching a nice place to sit in. And it was not so easy. You ask why? It is strange, but a lot of bars are closing very early, at 11 pm.

Finally, we have found one and came in. It was modern bar called ZABALA. Nice music, good cocktails and colourful lights. After two, three hours suddenly came police, told something to barmen and they begun to close the bar. I don’t know the reason but I think it is something to do with taxes, who knows…

I liked, that in Vitoria you can buy tickets to a club just on the street. Girls are selling them cheaper than in a club. We fell for a commercial and went to CIRCULO. It has s big dance floor, few bars, dirty closet and a terrace with a hamburger stall. There was a retro music but is depends on a program.

Tired but happy we took the first bus at 6.30 am. It is possible also to take a taxi, which will cost you for about 40 euro to Mondragon/Arrasate.

I really liked Vitoria. In a night light it was very attractive, although very empty. In a park, which we were crossing, I felt myself very romantic, maybe because of the autumn and huge, tall trees with yellow leaves. Now, my next wish is to visit this city during the daytime.

Jess Soodeen: ‘I grew up hearing all about Basques’

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ear_plugI first met Jess Soodeen in Azkoitia’s noisy(-est) bar Dean one night, where she’s become a regular face. Shouting into her ear, I wanted to know what brought her to a small town like Azkoitia. (Answer: a one-year Masters in Motorsport Engineering with local race car team, Epsilon Euskadi). My second question was, what on earth was keeping her here: “I love it!” she declared. And it wasn’t the drink talking – she’d just come off stage after gigging in the town’s main square with local veteran group Dirección Obligatoria.

For those who don’t know, Azkoitia is a Basque town of around 10,000 inhabitants situated within the Urola Valley near the heart of Gipuzkoa. By their own admission Basques take a while opening up to outsiders and in few places is this more evident than in Azkoitia.

But Jess is unphased: “I walk down the street and people say hello to me,” she says cheerily.

Aside from her integration into Dirección Obligatoria, Jess confesses to having three ‘cuadrillas’ (notoriously tight-knit friendship groups, typical in the Basque Country) and since her time spent in Azkoitia learning Spanish, has also managed a fair amount of ‘Azkoitiarra’ (a local dialect of the Basque language Euskera).

It is perhaps no coincidence that most Basque Country Live interviewees commonly share a culturally diverse background, and Jess is no exception,  starting with her surname: ‘Basically, a few centuries back a man who they named Soodeen jumped on a boat in Calcutta bound for Trinidad,’ she explains. At another time and place, meanwhile, a man named O’Leary (an ancestor of her mother) made a similar journey to the island the Irish called Talamh an Éisc, “land of the fish”, or Newfoundland, a large land mass off the east coast of Canada with strong historic ties to the Basque Country, based on whaling and cod fishing: “When I found out about the course in the Basque Country I said ‘I’m going there’; I grew up hearing about the Basques.”

And so to Euskadi…

Jess jumped on a plane bound for Valencia armed barely with a word of Spanish. But then, with a career spent both working and racing on the motortrack, she has had to be ballsy. It is an environment that requires tough decisions and quick thinking: “As a woman in the field, you have to earn respect and the fact that I’m not only a motorcycle racer, but also the mechanic of my own bike… these things work in my favour”.

Jess’s interest in motors goes back to 1999 when a group of mates “rigged it” for her to win bike lessons. She started r5racing in 2003 and by 2004 was only riding circuits. In 2005 she bought a Yamaha TZ 125 GP bike all the way from New Zealand and began tinkering. A degree in mechanical and a masters in motorsports engineering is, says Jess, “fine and dandy,” but it was hands on recognition that she needed, which is why she rebuilt her own motor: “I bought the bike to learn mechanics and this way gain respect for my ambitions as a circuit engineer”.  So why the switch to cars? “When I found the course in the Basque Country I realised that having education in cars as well would benefit my motorsports career in general in Europe.”

Not that that was the only factor that drew her our way: “I was fascinated by the Basque Country because of its history with Newfoundland,” says Jess. “I researched Azkoitia before I came; I had a picture of the indoor market on my computer screen for six months before I got here.

“Between the ages of 9 and 10 I lived in Libya. The rest of the time I lived in Calgary (a city of just over a million inhabitants) but all my summers were spent in Newfoundland.” Though essentially a city girl, Jess confesses to being something of a provincial soul. Something to do with all those long summers?

“Absolutely. The largest town in Newfoundland (capital San Juan de Terranova) has 100,000 inhabitants. That’s about the size of Vitoria.” To give  you an idea of the depth of the history between Euskadi and Newfoundland, thirteen of the Canadian island ports have Basque names, including Baya Ederra (Beautiful Bay) Port aux Basques and Balea Baya ,Whale Bay. (Basque whalers were recently cleared of having caused the extinction of the species off Newfoundland’s famous Labrador Bay).

Future prospects

With all these things in mind, you get the sense that Jess has discovered her spiritual home, the addition of Epsilon Euskadi (recently moved to Vitoria-Gasteiz), satisfying another important part of her ambition – working in motorsports – a dream she’s close to fulfilling:

“After completing my masters in 2008 I stayed one year more as an internship student doing race engineering with Epsilon Euskadi. Then they offered me a contract to start work this year. On 23rd December I found out they couldn’t give me the job.” (Current Government policy is to give preference to home-grown candidates where possible).

“Obviously because of the current employment situation I understand why they did it, but it was a massive blow.”

Despite this setback, she remains positive and intensely fond of her adopted hometown. On the job front, things are looking up as well: “With the contacts that I managed to make during my time spent at the circuits I have managed to find some contract work with another team based in Switzerland, racing in German, French, and Italian circuits. It’s still not full time work, but my dream of a house in the mountains and only working in circuits is on its way.”

November, month of visits and work

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Well, it has been quite a while since the last post, time to get back into the blog-vibe. Alas, the flu has caught me by surprise, leaving me sick in bed at the moment. On the bright side: my cousin Anniek, my mum, and her boyfriend Jos came to visit me this week, making me the guide for a few days. Continue reading

A rainy afternoon in Gasteiz

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Our Thursday class with Joxe was moved to Friday. That gave us the opportunity to pay one of our neighbour towns a visit. I had not yet been to Vitoria-Gasteiz so I thought let’s give it a try. Continue reading

Rain + boredom => delirium

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I have a startling confession to make, after all the – often way too long – posts I’ve written here. I don’t know what to write you. And I’m not talking writer’s block, I just don’t know anything that has happened in the past days that is worth telling you about. Only option is to tell you a few things that did happen but are just not so tremendously exciting. So if you’re reading further than this and you get bored out of your mind, don’t come nagging to me, I just gave you a five-sentence long warning. Continue reading

(A little bit) More of the same?

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I’ve thought about some ways to start this blog without having you all thinking that we don’t do anything else but partying and shopping, but alas, I have to be honest: we went to Vitoria-Gasteiz again yesterday! Together with Corine and Tiina – two other Erasmus students – Niké and I went on a typical girly shoe hunt, which we completed successfully. Continue reading

Exploring the many faces of Vitoria-Gasteiz

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Vitoria-Gasteiz is a city in the province of Alava, and is the capital of the Basque Autonomous Community. Since I’ve been here, we visited it three times, and every time I like it better and better. The city seems to have a French feeling combined with the typical warmth and liveliness of Southern towns.

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Shopping time!

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The summer seems to have passed, while the rainclouds are coming closer. That means it’s time to put my ballerinashoes back in the closet, and to buy some new footwear. So I headed back to the lovely Vitoria-Gasteiz to spend some money! Continue reading

On language and nightlife (I know, there’s no link whatsoever)

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Gabon!

Yes, I’ve learned some Basque words this week and thought it would be appropriate to address you all in Basque by wishing you a good evening. Continue reading