Thursday, 6 December 2012

The rain in Spain falls mainly on...The Basque Country

Sorry to be so British and talk about the weather but we're in the middle of a rain-fest here in Bilbao and I was just watching the news and saw a report about snow in Asturias. It showed people shoveling snow so they could get out of their front door. So the weather is on my mind, hence the blog. I thought it would be the perfect time to address a few weather myths about this fine place I'm living. Some of the myths are things I hear from Brits or other non-natives and others are myths I hear from other Spanish people when they talk about the Basque Country. I'll address the former first:

MYTH ONE
SPAIN IS ALWAYS SUNNY: FALSE

rain, metro, rain on window pane, bad weather, Bilbao metro, Bilbao, window rain

The quintessential image of Spain for us Brits is sun, sea and sand (and also sunburn!). A friend of mine booked her flight to visit me for the weekend and posted about it on facebook. Her status update said she was looking forward to topping up her tan. Knowing the Basque Country as I did, I cringed when I read it, fearing it would piss it down the whole weekend. Unfortunately for her my premonition came true and in fact the only time we saw the sun was when it finally came out as we waited for the bus to the airport. (luckily we still managed to have an awesome weekend despite the weather). She's definitely not alone in thinking that you can expect sunny weather here; from my parents to my Korean friends, all have been surprised when it's dared to rain when they've been visiting. I also made the mistake of not bringing a winter coat with me when I arrived in January. However, Spain is a large country with diverse landscapes and climates. There's definitely no one-size fits all for the weather here!

MYTH TWO
IT RAINS MORE IN MANCHESTER (OR ENGLAND IN GENERAL): FALSE


It's raining again, umbrella, funny umbrella, it's raining again umbrella,

A friend of mine was moaning to me about how lucky I was after seeing pictures of me on the beach whilst he was sitting in rainy Manchester. It's true if you were to go by my photograph's alone, you might think that I have been enjoying the most beautiful weather - but as I tend not to take my camera out or go to the beach in the rain, looks can be deceiving. In fact, as I pointed out to him at the time, it rains far more here than in Manchester. Don't believe me? I have evidence!

climate data for Bilbao
If you can't see that very well unless you click on it so if you're too lazy it says the average rainfall per year in Bilbao is 1195mm.

climate data for Manchester

This is for Manchester. The average rainfall per year is 828.8mm.  So there!

But...

MYTH THREE
IT'S COLDER IN ENGLAND: TRUE

sun, cliff, squinting in the sun, Getxo, Algorta, Bilbao
Squinting in the sun in February 2012


Now this one is true, which is the only thing that makes up for all the rain. On a normal day it's usually 4-5 degrees warmer here (this is not scientific fact merely my own observation of occassionally checking the weather both here and back home to decide whether I should be feeling smug or not...err I mean, just out of interest!) It's just as well really because rain + cold = miserable bitch.

 The stereotypes of of the Bilbao weather from the rest of Spain (particularly in the South) are a little different.

MYTH FOUR
IT ALWAYS RAINS IN BILBAO: FALSE

Bakio, Bakio beach, The Basque Country, weather in the Basque Country, Bilbao

I might have agreed with this one when I arrived in January and the rain seemingly fell constantly for the entire month but in fact the weather here can be really great. June was absolutely lovely and although I went home to England to enjoy days and days of cloudy weather, I'm told that it was hot and sunny most of the time here. I got back in September and enjoyed a month of near perfect weather. I spent the first official day of autumn on the beach and even had a lovely swim. The day after my birthday, it was 30 degrees! In October! Just the other day in fact, it was 24 degrees. Not bad at all for November...but it does bring me nicely to the next point...

MYTH FIVE
BILBAO WEATHER IS AS UNPREDICTABLE AS ENGLAND: TRUE

rain coat, rain jacket, smile despite the rain, Plentzia to Armintza walk, The Basque Country, Bilbao

This one is definitely unequivocally true. Bilbao is at the mercy of the Atlantic weather system so changeable weather is the norm here as much as in the UK. Just yesterday I was rushing to the metro clutching my umbrella in the pouring rain and then when I left the metro at my stop I needed sunglasses as in the meantime the sun had come out and the sunlight reflecting on the wet pavements nearly blinded me! Sometimes you need sunglasses, a raincoat or umbrella and a scarf and hat all in one day. I once went for a coastal walk with friends. The morning was warm and sunny. I was wearing shorts and had my sunglasses on and a bikini in my bag. We were all looking forward to jumping in the water at the other end. I had also packed a raincoat, leggings, a jumper and a scarf and was mocked for being so stereotypically British in packing for every eventuality. I ended up having the last laugh (see photo above) as it started raining halfway into our walk and they all got soaked and were shivering whilst I was fine! But as they say in the scouts, always come prepared!

And sometimes packing your bikini, just in case, actually pays off!

floating, waterfall, lake, swimming in a lake, Spain, Frias, Burgos,

Playa de Deba, Ratxa surf school, Ratxa esurfa eskola, surfing spa lunch, bikini, sunglasses, deba spain