Bilbao – Deja Vu on the Bridge!

The Arbitrary Swoon Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

A cropped pic of the incredible Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao Spain

A short Veuling flight from Barcelona (which I will blog about one of these days… lol!) is the lovely town of Bilbao.  Deep in the heart of Basque country this little jewel sits, surrounded by lovely mountains and divided by an incredible river sporting a well developed riverfront park area.  Well lit pathways, parks and patios flank both sides of the river.  It’s a colorful lively area of town and is a definite must-see.

The Arbitrary Swoon Bilbao Spain Bridge

Crossing the lovely river is this large distinct contemporary bridge.  I immediately had the overwhelming feeling that I had walked on this bridge before… kind of creepy as this was my first trip to Spain.  I remember remarking to my friends that I had seen this bridge before!  I actually felt as though I had walked on it before…  Look familiar to any of you?  Well this particular bridge was built by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.  Ring any bells yet?  Well for those of you locals that have taken the trip to Redding to see the Sundial Bridge it should feel very familiar!  The exact same architect designed them both!  What are the odds?  The man has designed so many incredible buildings and bridges around the world and we have a bit of that majestic design up here in Northern California!  So cool!

We wandered around the riverfront area, and deep into old town Bilbao.  Tapa bars were readily available for smaller meals and drinks, and dinner wasn’t served until much later in the evening, at the earliest 8:30 to 9:00 pm.  Everything stayed open late and although there were many cars in the streets, there were more people walking about meeting up with friends, carrying their favorite pooches around on their arms.  The Bilbao people are very proud of their Basque only Futbol team and proudly have an extremely large stadium in the process of being completed.  Ginormous screens adorn the exterior so that those that didn’t make it into the stadium can watch from pretty much any outdoor venue, or even your car!

In my grand opinion the most notable and fabulously designed building within the town has got to be the Guggenheim Museum – Bilbao.  I have never seen another building in this fashion and I think that was the intention when it was designed!

The Arbitrary Swoon Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Spain

The Arbitrary Swoon Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Spain

The day that we arrived was a torrid little rainstorm and I noticed that as the sun changed positions behind the clouds the colors of the building reflected those changes.  Truly amazing to see.  Designed by American Designer Frank Gehry, it is huge, contemporary and incredibly beautiful to witness in person.  They didn’t allow photographs on the interior but you can click on the link above to see their website photos.  The current interior exhibition was by Ernesto Neto and was frankly bizarre in my opinion.  I did enjoy the adorably large plant adorned canine guarding the front of the museum.  “Puppy” was designed by Jeff Koons in 1992 and is a large stainless steel statue overflowing in flowers.  Very cool to see!

The Arbitrary Swoon Bilbao Spain

Walking the streets of Bilbao was thoroughly enjoyable, from the incredible historic buildings to the colorfully painted murals there was so much to absorb in the short time that we were there!

The Arbitrary Swoon Bilbao Spain

One evening several of us decided to take the funicular train to the top of Mount Arxanda to check out the views.  Unfortunately the sun was in our eyes most of the time but it was a delightful park, with incredible art.  Children rode bikes, seniors sat on benches talking to their friends and the rest of us enjoyed the panoramic views!

Perhaps my favorite thing to do as I tour a new location is to watch and observe the people.   So, I’m going to have to finish up my trip to Bilbao with a photograph of a charming woman, sitting in her window doing her needlework while enjoying the brisk breeze and watching the people.  What a great way to waste away a day!

The Arbitrary Swoon Bilbao Spain

San Sebastian – Where there are no bad views!

Dock

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Early in the morning our group met in the hotel that we were staying at for the bus bringing us to the seaside town in Basque country called San Sebastian.  It was a lovely road trip through mountainous terrain.  Quaint farms dotted the hillsides with occasional sheep out to pasture.  Our guide was from the town of San Sebastian and graciously shared little tid-bits of life in this particular area of Spain.

The Arbitrary Swoon San Sebastian

Located in the Bay of Biscay, it is hard to miss the incredible beauty of La Concha beach and the surrounding buildings.  The skies cleared up for the day that we were there and the views were incredible!

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Our tour began at the San Sebastian Cathedral.  Built in the late 1900’s in the gothic revival style, this detailed church is hard to miss as you walk through the old town.

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As we meandered through the streets we went through a lovely area called the Constitutional Square.  This used to be the location of bull fights, and the numbers on the upper balconies were boxes used to view the fights.  Today it is filled with quaint shops and outdoor cafes.

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Txokolate – also known as chocolate.

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I thoroughly enjoyed watching the people of San Sebastian.  They were incredibly friendly, smiling back if you smiled at them.  Several locals stopped to say hello to our guide, and all were helpful to the English speaking Americans.

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We went to an outdoor market of flowers, vegetables and fruits.  The displays were marvelous to see and made even me, a self proclaimed vegetable hater want to bring a few veggies home!

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The indoor market focused mainly on fish and other creatures of the sea.  Again, the displays were incredible, and I loved watching the people cutting the fish for their customers.

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 We spent the afternoon wandering the narrow streets, picking up nick-knack souvenirs, and trying new restaurants.

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The weather was amazing and it felt good to simply sit and stare at the sea.  Why not?  All part of the San Sebastian experience!

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Dock

This is probably my favorite photograph! I could sit and watch the boats bob around in the water for hours!

Group

Our little group! The lovely lady in the center holding her bag is not actually a part of our group, we met her in the hotel lobby and she joined on in when we prepared for a photograph. Why not?