I’ve (Laura) wanted to go Bilbao for years. Art, architecture and food being the reasons, and it didn’t disappoint.
We drove in, as although the metro is cheap and efficient, the nearest stop to us was 25 mins walk (have I mentioned it’s raining?). I was a bit worried about driving in to a Spanish city, but it was straight forward and we parked right next to the Guggenheim.
There was some sort of running race on, finishing at the Guggenheim so we pottered for a bit, checking out the outside sculptures and enjoying the atmosphere. With the rain still intermittent, we went for lunch before deciding whether to explore the city or go inside the gallery first.
Side note – that’s one of the things we’re learning about having a baby, it’s hard to get anywhere before lunchtime. Even though you’re up first thing, unless you crack on and get up and out before nap time, you’re then trapped in the caravan until 11ish waiting for her to wake up again. At some point we’ll get more organised, but for now we’re embracing the lazy mornings and using them to get the life admin done.
Good old tripadvisor led us to a bar a few streets back from the gallery. While they had a menu, the draw of the place was their selection of bar top pintxos. Wow, they were works of art. Crab, tempura prawns, black pudding and chorizo, goats cheese and jamon, they were delicious.
With the weather easing momentarily, we took the chance to wander around the city. I have to admit to not researching it especially well, but there doesn’t seem much to do apart from the gallery (and the eating and drinking!). The old town was okay for a wander about, and we had a mooch down the river (mainly because my atrocious map skills sent us in the wrong direction for some time). The “largest indoor market in Europe” was only actually occupied in a tiny part, but was a hive of activity with more pintxos bars and a live band.
Finally, the main attraction. The building is as stunning as the art it contains and we enjoyed exploring the space as much, if not more, than the collections it contains. A huge atrium extends up the 3 floors, with open walkways (hello vertigo) connecting the exhibition spaces.
The immense “The matter of time” by Richard Serra was a highlight, cavernous yet intimate sculptures you could walk through and explore. And of course the bizarre but much loved “puppy”, or as we called it, the great Bilbao dog bush, at the entrance.
The next day saw a break in the weather so we made the most of it and headed to the beach.
Given our propensity for a lazy morning, we didn’t actually get there until the hottest part of the day, which probably isn’t wise with a young baby. And despite buying a fancy uv sunshaded playpen thing, we forgot to bring it to the beach. Instead we spent a couple of hours attempting to keep her in the shade of the buggy / towels, before accepting that being on the beach isn’t the relaxing rest that it used to be. And while hiding E from the sun, I forgot about my own back, which is now nice and crispy, even a few days later.
A highlight of our beach trip was watching the “locals”. There was a primary school right on the promenade, and as we sat on the beach, a steady stream of wetsuited 5 or 6 year olds was led down to the sea with their body boards for their PE lesson. I’m not sure you’d get the insurance in the U.K. for 3 teachers to take 20 small children in open water, but it was obvious these kids had grown up with the sea and were in their element in the waves.
Given our first stop here was supposed to be a bit of sun soaked holidaying before travelling properly began, and given the forecast is yet more rain, we’re cutting our loses and moving on a couple of days early. Next stop… Picos de Europa mountains