The umbrella is significant too. Bilbao is a city of umbrellas - just like British cities used to be before it became somehow unfashionable to carry an umbrella and everyone started making do with hoods and hats of various kinds. Here, the umbrella still reigns (no pun intended), and not necessarily the pathetic little fold-up ones that we hide away in our bags in Britain. Oh no. Many Bilbainos still proudly carry proper umbrellas. (Just like I have never stopped doing, in fact...)
We were lucky in the summer and autumn: there was apparently considerably below average rainfall here. It's supposed to rain on approximately 50% of the days of the year throughout the year, but it was nothing like that between July and December. However it's sure making up for it now. For the last ten days it has rained pretty much non-stop all day and all night. When it does rain here, it often rains all day - usually quite lightly. There's even a name for the kind of light mist of rain that often falls for hours here - it's called 'sirimiri'. The last few days, however, it's been raining quite heavily. In fact it's been unusually heavy, and pretty much the whole of the Basque country is on flood alert. Yesterday, the river was running very high and very fast here in Bilbao: quite dramatic. But there was still a way to go before there was any risk of flooding.
Bilbao is vulnerable to flooding as it's hemmed in on all sides by hills, and the water rushes down into the river when it rains very heavily. In 1983 there was a catastrophic flood. In these pictures you can see how unbelievably high the flood waters went in the old town. The flood marker is above the street lamp, near ceiling level on the first floor:
A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our blog is done
And we’ll strive to please you every day.