Spain is known to be a whole different culture compared to Finland. The sun, chatty people, relaxed life style, eating out late with friends. If you wish to start your way to become a true Spaniard gently, you should definitely start in Bilbao!
Bilbao is very similar to many towns in Finland. Quite small compared to the big cities like Madrid or Barcelona but big enough to make it feel like a vibrant and lively city. In a couple of weeks you already know the main places to be and your way around the city. So to say, Bilbao is easy to handle quite quickly. There are 350 000 people living in Bilbao. I think being used to towns smaller than half a million inhabitants (in Finland only in Helsinki, the capital, there are more than half a million inhabitants, all the rest fairly under this amount), it’s easier for us Finns to adjust to the new culture.
When you come from the country that has been ranked one of the safest in the world, you usually feel less safe in any place you travel. Big cities are weird, too many places, too much people. Countryside, at least to me, is terrifying when there’s not a soul around and any animal can surprise you anytime. That being said, Bilbao is the perfect size. Again to me at least.
Even I was surprised when I realized that I could feel completely at peace moving around the city even in the darkest hours of the day. The cause of this is that the streets of Bilbao are generously wide and well lit. Also the city is surrounded by mountains so it feels a bit like they’re guarding you from the outside world. But in my mind the most important factor of feeling safe here is the spaciousness, the thing that you can see far forward from where you stand and not only building after building.
The Finns are usually introverted and feel a bit uncomfortable when someone tries to approach them. It’s a bit ridiculous but that’s how we are sometimes. But again also in this matter it’s a less of a culture shock here than somewhere south of Spain.
When you want to try Spain near to the culture you already know, Bilbao is just for you!