A word from your sponsor.

Last week, I wrote about Álava, which was the last of the provinces I have visited in Spain. That means I’ve finished writing about the Set Meravelles of the 44/50 provinces I’ve been to, you might ask where do I go from here? Where does the blog go from here? La semana pasada, escribí sobre Álava, que era la última de las provincias que he visitado en España. Eso quiere decir que he terminado de escribir sobre las Set Meravelles de las 44/50 provincias que conozco. Ahora…¿qué? ¿Adónde va este blog ahora?

Well…pues…

I have to finish the Camino of Santiago. He de terminar el Camino de Santiago.

I have yet to write about Andorra and Gibraltar. He de escribir sobre Andorra y Gibraltar, por ejemplo.

I still go to a lot of towns, villages and mountains. Spain has a ton of places to see and explore. I’d love to one day have visited all of the meravelles listed. Todavía visito muchos pueblos y montañas. España tiene un montón de sitios para ver y conocer. Me encantaría decir que he visitado todos las meravelles de que he escrito.

As I visit those six remaining provinces, I will write them up too. Brownie points if you can name what provinces, cities and islands I have yet to finish (answer at the end of this entry).  Y cuando visite las provincias que me quedan, las escribiré también. Puntos extras si ya sabes cuales provincias, ciudades y islas que me quedan (respuesta al final de esta entrada).

I have been toying with the idea of also writing about Spanish film and literature. If there is interest from readers, there is an interest from this writer! I once took a college/university course on Spanish film, and my background is Hispanic Studies (aka Spanish), and as a potential future graduate student in the world of Spanish literature, I have a lot to say. He pensando en escribir sobre el cine español y la literatura española. Si hay interés de lectores, ¡hay un interés de este escritor! Tomé un curso de cine español en universidad, y estudié filología española (Estudios Hispánicos). Como un posible estudiante de máster de literatura española, tengo mucho de decir. 

As I said in last week’s entry about Álava, no matter where you travel or find yourself, there is always something to be wondered about. To limit yourself to seven wonders, siete maravillas or set meravelles is next to impossible. And to see all the wonders Spain or the world has is definitely impossible. That will never stop me from trying! Como dije en la entrada la semana pasada sobre Álava, no importa donde viajes y te encuentras, siempre hay una maravilla. Para limitirte a sólo siete maravillas es casí imposible. Y para ver todas la maravillas de España o del mundo sí, es imposible. ¡Nunca me parará de intentar!

I’m also curious. What are the Set Meravelles of your village, town, state, province, comunidad autónoma, region, nation or country? What is on your Bucket List? I want to know more about you, my readers! También me encantaría saber cuales son las Set Meravelles de tu pueblo, estado, provincia, comunidad autónoma, region, nación o país? ¿Cuales sitios tienes que ver antes de morirte? ¡Me gustaría saber más de vosotros, mis lectores!

Yet to see/Todavía hay que ver: Albacete, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Lugo, Ourense, Zamora, Huesca. The cities of Ceuta and Melila. And the islands of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Menorca!

Oh yeah, I hate doing this, but I am also trying to raise money so I can complete the Camino de Santiago. This might be one of three Go Fund Me campaigns I’ll be doing. (If this one works, I’ll be trying to raise money to complete my mission of visiting every province in Spain and then graduate school in Spain OR getting my novel(s) published. Thanks for helping. No me gusta hacer eso, pero estoy intentando ganar un poco de dinero para completar el Camino de Santiago. Este puede ser uno de tres campañas de Go Fund Me que haré. (Si esta funciona, intentaré ganar dinero para visitar todas las provincias españolas y otra para hacer un máster en Valencia O para publicar mi(s) novela(s). Gracias por contribuir. Help me get to Santiago! ¿Me podrías echar una mano para llegar a Santiago? Gracias/Thanks. Go fund me!

The Cold, Hard Truth Hits Me In The Face

I feel like Quijote on an impossible quest to prove himself to Dulcinea, only instead of sweet Dulcinea, I’m trying to prove myself to the world and to Spain I’m worthy and good enough.

I’ve been running around this beautiful country for seven years now, looking for myself, looking for my dream guy, looking for acceptance and friendship and a cureall to loneliness and fear and trying to become Spanish.

Instead, I have become an insecure mess, hopping from one place to the other trying to stay afloat financially, unable to settle down anywhere long enough to feel like home (except for that year in València. Valencia was home. I foolishly left it to try to pursue a master at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. I was admitted but had no financial way of making it happen.)

Am I about to pick up and move again? Maybe. I’m seriously considering it.

Bilbao is a lovely city on the rise. It has successfully rebuilt and rebranded itself from the “Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Detroit” of the peninsula of the 80s to a colourful, lively city with the Guggenhiem, BBK Live Festival, a brand new San Mames, the most beautiful metro (and Línea 3 is coming! Eventually!) Pintxo bars and happening places all around the city.

But there is a downside to all that. There is a constant rain that even on nice sunny days is at the back of your mind, knowing that the sun has a limited lifespan around the time of a fruit fly. The Basques are the Basques. Not as reserved as advertised, but it is still hard to break in and meet people. Last year, I suffered from some horrible depression and anxiety to the depths of I am not about to go into.

There has been an offer from someone wanting to try to change placements from Ávila to Bilbao. I am debating on trying it. I am facing my last year in Spain, I’m afraid, and I would like to go out on a high note. (More on that in a bit). There are quite a bit of places of and near the Basque Country I haven’t seen yet, and a few places that are demanding a full entry. Is that enough to keep me here? The pay would be the exact same, hours the same, but nearly half the cost of living. There are a ton of places near Ávila worth exploring. And two years later, I have yet to go out and really experience the night life of Bilbao because frankly, who wants to go back out into the rain after walking around in it all day?

There are drawbacks, as Ávila is a very small city, I’d have a longer commute, and there is no gym that has Body Combat it seems. It’s also farther from the Camino, which I hope to get back out on this weekend. I am analyzing all these things, and more.

Today I went on yet another interview for an academy, and I came to the realization that unless it got me back to my beloved Valencia, I’m not sure the stress of English academy work is for me. (Especially when the long hours there barely surpass my current pay.)

I love Spain with all my heart, and I don’t ever want to leave it. However, somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten why exactly. My studies of Spanish have fallen by the wayside. Sure, I have a C2 level and learn new expressions all the time. But my accent gets worse and worse as my jobs demand I not permit a soul to know I am fluent in Spanish. I am so burnt out by constant analyzing myself “Am I speaking English properly? Did I just accidentally mix conditionals in a non permitted by Cambridge way?” that the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is socialize.

In an ideal world, I would be able to live in Valencia and make a living off my writing. I’d have that Spanish, Catalán or Basque husband to comfort me or to accompany me on my travels. I’d have two eager golden retrievers to take care of (after teaching Spanish children at the worst school ever in 2009-2010, I have decided I never want children.) I would be able to canvass this amazing peninsula, the greatest in the world, as much as my heart desires.

In a less than ideal world, I’d at least be able to pursue graduate studies at the Univeristat de València in Hispanic Studies.

I applied to this job very last minute in 2008 when I wasn’t accepted to either of the three graduate schools I applied to.  I had spent five years dreaming of living in Spain, and for seven years, I have been living out the dream. A very difficult, lonely, isolating dream that has taken me to unimaginable places.

And in the bottom of my broken heart, I know that ultimately whether I go to Ávila or stay in Bilbao, it’ll be my probable last year in the Greatest Peninsula in the World.

I’m tired of fighting, explaining myself how I *could* change my visa with a contract, tired of private lessons, tired of counting the days between holidays not because I want to travel but because I just don’t want to have to explain why “I is of the eSpain” is  not acceptable English (for the record, all my students have had a better level than that! The Spanish DO speak better English than they give themselves credit for.)

Anything can happen. I could meet the boy of my dreams tomorrow. I could win the lottery. I could publish one of my novels which then became the publishing sensation of the century.

But realistically, it’s time to start exploring graduate schools (which does include the exploration of the Univeristat de València), grow up, be an adult and let go of my dream of Spain.

Your regularly scheduled Set Meravelles will return soon!

2014 in review, and a look toward 2015.

2014 was not the best year ever. Quite close to the opposite. It started out with the worst flight ever (lost luggage and delays), morphed into a breakup of a relationship that never was really defined as such, which lead to a snowboarding adventure with a sprained ankle that took 2.5 months to fully heal, which lead to a bad bout with depression and anxiety.

Got the negative junk out of the way, so now I can look at the good things of 2014.

I started SetMeravelles! I travelled to Ibiza, Ireland (Cork, Blarney, Cobh and Dublin. I missed all the amazing parts, I know) Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona twice, Cantabria twice, La Rioja three times, and all over the Basque Country. I made it to Nashville (entry coming Friday). Unfortunately, it was a rather quiet year for travels. I had a trip to Belgium planned that was postponed to February, and I got money back from Ryan Air as the flights ended up being cancelled due to the Belgian General Strikes. Pam Swynford de Beaufort got a good send off. I read 111 books and saw a lot of classic films.

In short…I survived.

I don’t believe in resolutions per se, but I do make a list of goals every year that I hope to accomplish. I don’t think I did so well in 2014, but I did manage to cross one that had been on there for about 12 years: go snowboarding.

2014 Goals Accomplished: Get down to 150 pounds/68 KG and develop muscle, snowboard, started the Camino de Santiago, continued the fight against depression and anxiety, slowly developing a social circle.

It was not the most successful year, but I have a feeling 2015 is going to kick 2014’s culo. Here are my goals.

1. Come out to my mom. It has to be done. Life free of lies and a meaningful relationship. (saved from 2014! Okay and every year since 2002!)

2. Submit my first two novels for publication, and get to 75% finished with novel 3. (saved from 2014! Oy.)

3. Eat healthy, learn to cook. Tuesday will be my cheat day, as it’s a day of hell for me. Every Sunday, I will learn to cook a new dish. For real.

4. Continue the progress at the gym. Lose body fat. Go to Body Combat at least once a week, go to Body Pump at least once a week, go to Body Balance once a week. Be able to do 100 pushups and ten pullups (at the moment I can’t do one) by the end of the year.

5. Try surfing again and go kayaking.

6. For the Camino de Santiago, I vow to make it at least from Zarautz to Santander over this year. It’s my Camino.

7. Work on developing a social circle and go out more. Maybe even find a steady boyfriend.

8. Work toward finding a permanent job and figuring out grad school. (Saved from last year). I am looking in Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao. I’m open to coastal areas, and while I know I will probably have to teach, I would love to write full time. And grad school at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona or Universitat de València would be amahzing.

9. Continue the struggle with depression and anxiety and not let them get the best of me like they did in the latter part of 2014!

10. Be able to afford a studio apartment and a golden ‘triever dog.

11. Learn to relax and enjoy the moment.

12. Listen to every song on iTunes once and delete the ones I truly don’t like. This may take a while.

13. Learn yoga

14. Find my way back to God

Another tradition I do is list all the places I’ve slept in the year. I feel as this is supposed to be a travel blog, that this might be the best part of the entry for most!

Places I slept: Over the Atlantic, Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Ibiza, Madrid, Cork, Dublin, Pamplona, Zaragoza, La Almunia de Doña Godina, Valencia, Barcelona, Lawrenceburg

And a meme I’ve done since 2002 I believe.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?: Snowboarding, drive a standard transmission

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?: Some, and I always have goals for the New Year, as seen above.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?: A few people from high school.

4. Did anyone close to you die?: A guy I had just met committed suicide around the time Robin Williams did. RIP to both.
5. What countries did you visit?: Spain (and Basque Country and Catalunya), Ireland, France, United States

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?: Money, a boyfriend, and dogs.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?: Nov. 8 for my date with Lady Gaga in Barcelona. I guess March 1 for my trip to Ibiza too.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?: Surviving. This blog!

9. What was your biggest failure?: Coming out, financial issues, social issues.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Two cases of food poisoning, a sprained ankle, a couple of colds, and depression-anxiety.

11. What was the best thing you bought?: Plane/train/bus tickets and bus.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Mariah Carey

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?: The Partido Popular. 99,9% of politicians, but the PP and Republicans really terrify me.

14. Where did most of your money go?: Travel, café con leche, books.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?: Traveling, my new iPad, Barcelona trips

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?: “Gypsy” by Lady Gaga and the entire album Me..I Am Mariah, The Elusive Chanteuse

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? thinner
iii. richer or poorer? about the same (poor!)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?: Writing, travelling.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Procrastinating, being afraid to be who I am, worrying

20. How will you be spending Christmas?: I spent it with my mom in the States.

21. How will you be spending New Years? Eating grapes at 6 PM Eastern Standard Time (midnight Spanish peninsular time) and packing.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?: EZ. No.

23. How many one-night stands?: Even Americans living in Euskadi never kiss and tell.

24. What was your favorite TV program?: True Blood, Community, Fargo, Everwood, Nashville, Jack & Bobby, Veep, Happy Endings, Jericho were the ones I watched.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?: I try not to hate anyone.

26. What was the best book you read?: I have 111 to choose from. Crime and Punishment, Primera temporada de Enric Pardo, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding, Until I Find You by John Irving, La verdad sobre el caso de Harry Quebert, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (why I’m Pablo Supertramp on Twitter!)

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?: I finally discovered Queen at the age of 32. How sad is that?

28. What did you want and get?: An iPad, a start to the Camino.

29. What did you want and not get?: A boyfriend, various travels

30. What was your favorite film of this year?: Boyhood, Ocho Apellidos Vascos, Wish I Were Here

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?: 33 and went to Barcelona and the Pont de Diable. Yes, I know I’m the same age as Jesus was when he died.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?: Stability and less anxiety/depression/loneliness!

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?: Preppy-casual

34. What kept you sane?: Jordi, my iPod

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?: David Villa, Cesc Fàbregas, Mario Casas

36. What political issue stirred you the most?: La crisis and the ineptitude of the PPSOE.

37. Who did you miss?: Fallon Fey. Still.

38. Who was the best new person you met?: This will remain to be seen.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014: Once again, Mimi’s part to the Rent classic “Another Day”

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: No hay más que hoy…no day but today.
¡FELIZ AÑO NUEVO! BON ANY NOU! URTE BERRI ON! HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

It’s the 33rd Season of my show!

It’s been a tradition to write a post on Facebook or my old Livejournal where I interview myself as if I were a headwriter of a show about plans for the upcoming season. So as today is my 33rd birthday, and I’ve taken off to Barcelona to celebrate the event in style, I think I’m going to carry on the tradition. Read ahead. (Warning, there are travel spoilers!)

SetMeravelles: So today starts the 33rd season of the Pablo show. Let’s look at the successes of the 32 season first.
Me: I’m okay with that!

SetMeravelles: You started me, this travel (and soon to be and film) blog, so zorionak and enhorabuena on that.
Me: Eskerrik asko, moltes gràcies!

SetMeravelles: Two days on the Camino of Santiago, you finally went snowboarding, despite that nasty sprained ankle, and trips to Ireland, Barcelona and Valencia along with a lot of daytrips around and close to the Basque Country like Cantabria, Logroño, Haro, Pamplona, Bergara, Gernika, Bermeo, Hondarribia, Donostia, Mundaka, Zeanuri, Areatza and Urdaibai, among others…and you’ve done a lot of hiking around the Greater Bilbao area. Anything on the agenda for the 33rd Season?
Me: Yes, a trip to the States for Christmas (and perhaps a coming out to the mother, I mean, we’ve tried for several seasons so I hope this season it gets taken care of) and another trip to Belgium in February. I’m looking at a German-Czech-Austrian Semana Santa, but that has yet to be seen.

SetMeravelles: Sounds exciting!
Me: And more of the Camino of Santiago. It’s something I gotta finish, ya know’

SetMeravelles: Totally, it’s one of the set meravelles of Spain!
Me: Stop the self-promotion!

SetMeravelles: Sorry. This season had a sprained ankle and a nasty bout with depression and anxiety.
Me: It’s like the writers of the last four seasons of Gossip Girl took over my life! I’m looking at the changes needed in my life. As much as I love Bilbao and the Basque Country, I’m not so sure it’s my forever home. I’m still struggling to meet people and make friends, ya know? I definitely forsee a change of location this upcoming season, whether it just be a new flat, a new city or even a new autonomous community. It’ll depend on where the jobs send me. I’d love to be a full-time writer in the Països Catalans, for example. But another year in Euskadi has not been ruled out yet.

SetMeravelles: Sounds interesting. Again, we feel like Entertainment Weekly talking to the writers of Will and Grace, but are you going to cast a boyfriend for Pablo anytime soon?
Me: (sighing) I really hope so. We’re sorry about that breakup of that not exactly divulged boyfriend we were in talks with last season. Things just didn’t work out. We’ll see what can be done. I think we’ve seen enough of the Pablo finding himself plots. He knows he likes writing, likes Catalán and Spanish, is sick of the rain, etc etc etc…how would he work as a boyfriend? We see potential in this storyline, and we hope to cast someone in the role very soon. I sound like a broken record though.

SetMeravelles: We know. Now that snowboarding has been tackled, will we get to see some surfing this year?
Me: I hope so! Surfing was so much fun in season 19, it’d be a shame not to take advantage of the Basque waves, ya know? We’re also looking at a yoga storyline and a return to the Body Combat storylines that were so popular in seasons 29-31. We got away from that in season 32, and I think the show suffered from that. P.’s a warrior, that one. We hope to have him back in Catalán for a B2 certificate.

SetMeravelles: Sounds great! Season 32 wasn’t so great, but I think great things are ahead in season 33. I hope some cooking classes.
Me: Cállate la boca ya.

SetMeravelles: Sorry again. You’re a bit testy.
Me. I know, I know, ya lo sé.

SetMeravelles: Well, thanks for chatting anyway! We look forward to everything Season 33 has to offer.
Me: It can only go up from here, right?

 

The 50th post!

Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s already been 50 posts since I started this thing back in June.

El tiempo vuele cuando estás pasándolo bien. Ya he escrito 50 posts (entradas) desde empezar este blog en junio.

Thanks to all my readers and all the people who supported me and encouraged me during this time.

Gracias a todos los lectores y toda la gente quien me apoyó y me animaron durante este tiempo.

I spent months toying around with the idea of a travel blog after reading a lot of travel books. I know it’s a big world out there with a lot of bloggers, and it took me a while to figure out how I wanted to go about it. My Twitter handle was based on Stevie Nicks’ performance of “Seven Wonders” from American Horror Story: Coven. As I love Catalán, I went with the Catalán name. Then as I was setting this up, trying to think of a name and a purpose, I remembered my goal of visiting every Spanish province. Surely there are at least Seven Wonders in each province, right? And then this thing was born.

Me tardó meses pensando en la idea de crear un blog de viajes después de leer muchos libros de viaje. Sé que es un mundo grande con muchos bloggers, y me tardó un rato largo para pensar en como quería hacerlo. Mi nombre de Twitter era basada en la actuación de Stevie Nicks en American Horror Story cuando cantó “Seven Wonders” (Siete Maravellas en inglés). Como me encanta el catalán (tanto como me encanta el csatellano, ¡tranquilos!), decidí en “Seven Wonders” en catalán. Cuando estaba haciendo este blog, intentando pensar en un nombre y un objetivo del blog, recordé mi reto de visitar todos las provincias de España. Seguramente hay al menos Siete Maravillas en cada provincia, ¿no? Y desde allí, nació este blog.

My future goals are to continue with looking for the Set Meravelles in each province, translating every entry into Spanish (I am trying to find a native speaker or two to help me proofread, as while I have that Hispanic Studies degree, I’m still bound to make a mistake (especialy with “por y para”).

Mis objetivos ahora son para seguir con buscar los Set Meravelles en cada provincia y traducir todas las entradas al castellano (estoy buscando un nativo para ayudarme editar…aunque hiciera la carerra Estudios Hispánicas (filologia castellana), ¡voy a hacer errores de vez en cuando! (Especialmente con “por” y “para”).

I’m also going to a new page reviewing the works of important Spanish directors and how they present The Greatest Peninsula in the World, probably starting in January. The first is going to be Victor Erice, then Alex de la Iglesia (putting off my personal fave and the most popular outside Spain, Pedro Almódovar).

También voy a empezar una página nueva para criticar las obras de directores importantes de España y como se presenta La Mejor Península del Mundo, probablemente para empezar en enero. El primer director será Victor Erice, y después Alex de la Iglesia (posponiendo mi director preferido y el director más popular fuera de España, Pedro Almódovar.

I have a lot of blog ideas running around in my head about travelling around this great country of at least 17 nations. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll join me for the next 50 entries!

Tengo muchas ideas para el blog en la cabeza sobre viajar en este gran país de al menos 17 naciones. Gracias por leer, y espero que sigas leyendo para los próximos 50 entradas!

Muchas gracias, moltes gracies, moltes mercis, eskerrik asko, mila esker, graças, obrigado, grazie mille, mahalo, ευχαριστίες, merci beaucoup, many thanks!

PS: It’s a total coincidence that this is posting on Thanksgiving!
PD: ¡Es una casualidad total que este está publicándose el Día de Acción de Gracias! Jaja.