Stranded In The Southland

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Shower Connoisseurs

[Okay, I felt the need to rewrite this one. -- K.]

Y´know, before our travels in Spain, we´d occasionally complain about hotel showers, but it really wasn't that big a deal, because we'd be back home soon. This trip has made us complete shower connoisseurs. My linguist friends tell me that the old saw about Eskimos having 200 words for snow is just bullshit, but we have certainly identified nearly that many ways to measure shower performance.

Every morning, M. will hop out of the shower and brief me on its characteristics in detail.

In the States, we always notice consistency of temperature and shower height. In any system with a central resevoir of hot water shared between rooms (and, to my dismay, even in some rooms that have their own hot water heater), you're gonna have some problems with water pressure and temperature. It happens everywhere. The shower height issue is somewhat more annoying -- it is strange how many showers are set up for a 5´2¨ person instead of a 6´1¨ person. M. is always sympathetic (but a little amused, too) when I have to kneel down to wash my hair. To my surprise, this hasn't been a big issue in Spain.

What is an issue is the shower size. There are no standard shower dimensions over here, so sometimes the shower smaller than a telephone booth -- sort like the kittens in a bottle -- which requires you to almost stick your body out of the shower to get it soaped up! We've had a couple showers with full-sized baths, but other than that, every shower has been a different size, with a different arrangement of controls and nozzles.

Which brings me to the horror of large handles in a small shower -- if you accidently push the lever over to steaming hot while shimmying around trying to wash your hair, the results can be painful.

Similarly, the shower head is affixed (or not) to the wall in a different way each time. The shower head is always on a hose, with a way to affix it to the wall to squirt down on you. Once, there was no way to affix the head to the wall, making for a bunch of one-handed washing (quiet down, you perverts). Usually it manages to tilt off to one side, making things a bit more difficult. And of course, we had our amazing eight-nozzle shower in Murcia, something I've never even seen in the states. Yow.

You wouldn't think it would matter that much, but it really is nice, after a long, sweaty day and late night , to be able to kick back and have a nice hot shower. I mean, you figure when you get a place with an in-room shower, you should be able to enjoy it. Oh, well, bad showers in Spain beat good showers in LA any day. :-)

Pamplona to San Sebastian to Bilbao

After a relatively early night, we got up early and made the quick trip to San Sebastian, only to rediscover that trying to find a place to stay on a weekend in a beach town can really suck. After making innumerable calls, M. managed to score us a place.

By slavishly trying to follow the notations on the map from the tourist office in town, we spent almost an hour searching for the hostal we finally settled into. Fortunately, the owner proved to be cheerful and the room one of the most comfortable we´ve had so far.

This whole mess kind of soured me on the town, though, and while we went out and walked along the beach (amazingly like the beach in ¨To Catch a Thief¨), we didn´t do much besides geek a bit and then get ourselves a good Basque dinner.

The next day, we checked out and headed over to drop off our laundry to be washed and folded at a laundrimat highly recommended by both our guides. What neither guide mentioned was that the wash and dry was only on weekdays. Bummer.

This was especially aggravating, as we´d planned to leave our heavy bags with the laundrimat. We then wasted immense amounts of time trying to catch a cab (which don´t generally cruise around San Sebastian -- it is a big enough town to need taxis, but not big enough for them to leave the taxi stands, it seems) to save my poor aching feet.

In the end, we barely caught a bus in time to go out to visit the Cement Museum. That´s right. This wasn´t even my idea -- for some reason, M. had her heart set on checking it out. When we got there, it was worth the 30 minutes we had to see it before it closed; since everything was in Spanish, I had a hard time figuring it all out.

Then we hustled down to the bus station in time to miss the hourly bus to Bilbao by about two minutes. That was okay, as it left M. plenty of time to call hostals in Bilbao to try to get a place to sleep. Which took something like eight calls. Yeesh.

At least it was a fun drive through beautiful mountains, and it wasn´t too hard to find our hostel. It was pouring down rain, but as this has only happened on two of our twenty days in Spain so far, it is hard to complain.

P´whew. Hopefully we´ll be able to shake off this funk soon and have some more fun!