An hour and a half bus ride from Santander, I was able to check off another Spanish city on my Spain bucket list.
Bilbao is an industrial city in Spain on the rise and was basically built up from nothing in the 1940’s. It’s located in the north of Spain, in the Basque Country. It’s very different from central or southern Spain and the architecture resembles that of northern Europe.
Yadda yadda kings and queens. Fast forward to the start of the Spanish Civil War in Bilbao, where the city suffered the first bombing in August 31, 1936. In May 1937, the Nationalist Arm took over the town and burned all the bridges. The war ended and Bilbao experienced industrial development and a revival of the iron industry in the 1940’s.
There are two official languages for the Basque Country: Spanish and Euskara (Basque). Woah, they are as different as night and day. In tourist destinations, everything is displayed in Euskara, Spanish and English respectively.
So because it’s Spain, clearly football is the most popular sport, but a popular regional sport is Kontxako (rowing). It’s a team of 13 rowers and one person at the stern of the boat yelling directions. We actually saw them practicing on Sunday morning.
It’s a museum of modern and contemporary art if you couldn’t guess from the outside structure of the building. To be honest, the actual building is cooler than the art inside. Maybe I’m more of a traditional art person. I was actually trying to understand it by listening to that goofy headset that talks about each painting. But I started laughing when I was listening in Spanish to the recording talking about an erect penis. COUGH COUGH WHAT? George Baselitz created a series of paintings of prominent figures sitting with erect penises. Also the painting is upside down, so you can imagine me turning my head upside down and trying to look at this painting. Strange. That was my cue to leave.
The Guggenhein Animal
Is it a dog, puppy, bear, cat?! Asking for a friend
The old historic part of the town is really beautiful and colorful. I imagine it’s breathtaking in the springtime. There’s an area within the casco viejo (old neighborhood) called siete calles (seven streets). This is a really great area to eat because the alleyways are lined with great restaurants and bars.
I had one day to get my layout of the city before my friend arrived. It went like this: walk walk walk, wine and lunch, walk walk walk, coffee, Guggenhein museum. Meet up with Alex, more wine and dinner.
Sunday we woke up and just started walking. We walked through a couple of parks, saw some cool buildings, and ate a delicious lunch. We returned to the hotel for a mini siesta and then went out to a movie. Sometimes I think we are master travelers because we can really hit all the hot spots in a day or two. Yes, ideally it would be nice to take things at a slower pace and enjoy them a bit more without our feet constantly aching but we have to play the cards we’re dealt.
It was a great weekend of exploring with one of my favorite travel buddies.