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Bilbao was all about the Guggenheim.Shall we backtrack a few hours??

After an amazing day of mountain strolling, we slept well and woke up fairly late… and immediately did this:

Because the view from our room, was this:

We left our tiny mountain village, committing to many hours of windy driving, followed by more hours of straight driving, and 30 of the most stressful minutes of our lives in which we drove ’round and ’round the city centre of Bilbao, trying to find the proper locale for dropping of our rental car.

We found our hotel, ate sardines for dinner, and generally relaxed.

The next morning, we went straight for the Guggenheim.

In my opinion (and probably everyone else who has ever been there’s), the Guggenheim in Bilbao is more about the building, and less about the art itself.

It was designed by Frank Gehry, who apparently took inspiration from Fish.

As described in detail by our audioguide.

To be honest, that’s pretty much all I can tell you about the building (go and wiki it in your own time if you’re interested), because after about 10 minutes of audioguide my eyes were tired from rolling at the drama, and I had to put the thing down permanently.

What I can tell you is that the building has little outside patios, which link in the building itself, with large sculptural works, and rather dramatic views of the surrounding city.  

Anyone who has every seen anything at all  by Jeff Koons will immediately recognise the flowers, above. He had a real ‘balloon’ phase. While I generally hold the strongest of all distastes for the man and his work, in response to our 2009 trip to Versailles being completely ruined by hanging floaty lobsters and vacuum cleaners, I don’t hate this.

The dog is also him. And I don’t hate it either.

Sure, it’s not a cat, but as plants are probably my third favourite things in life (Andy, Cat, Plants), I’ll let it stand.

Back inside there were a couple of larger exhibits which really stood out.

I was very into the red and blue light show…. admittedly partially because the colours so perfectly matched my outfit of the day.

Also fairly impressive were a set of huge ‘scrolls’, which looked like this from above:

But from the ground were strange objects to navigate and get lost in:     

Heading upstairs allowed us to better appreciate the fishy curves of the building…. 

… And Andy found some night tight places to squish himself into.      

Back outside once again, we strolled past Doggy, and headed to a small bar to get some breakfast tapas. We had headed to the Guggenheim at opening in order to beat the cues, and Andy was by this stage so faint from hunger that his first instinct was to buy some terrible cold spaghetti from a convenience store.

Luckily, he could be persuaded.

Because we were in Spain, and wanted to eat all of the seafood, the tapas were fish-themed. Frank Gehry would be so proud. 

We then headed back to the museum, to admire it from the outside.       

Apart from being beautiful, the museum is also somewhat interactive.

Every hour on the hour, fog rolls out:

And, in other spooky news, the also have a spider!


Deciding that we had filled our bellies with both enough literal and architectural-realisations-of fish, we headed through the city to check out the other sights and smells.  

You’ll just have to believe me when I tell you that we did walk around a little bit before once again stopping for food.

In this case, percebes, or goose barnacles.

Nadia, our friend from work, once told us that people believed, or at least claimed to believe, that goose barnacles were the larval stage of the barnacle goose. This theory stemmed from the fact that the bird and the triceratops-like mollusc had similar colouring, and because nobody had ever seen a baby goose (they all flew south for breeding season).

Mostly, however, it came about because the church was pro seafood, but not bird meat, during lent and on the holy day. And because people are terrible and will make up all kinds of ridiculous stories in attempts to find loopholes in their own religious doctrines.

Anyway, we spent a fair amount of time working out both how to eat the barnacle, and which parts of the barnacles to eat. All in all, my conclusion is that they are on the lower end of my seafood list, as they mostly taste like seawater, have very little edible meat, and make your hands smell slightly fishy.

Still, always good to try a new thing, especially when it looks like one is eating a dinosaur.


Apart from the Guggenheim, the Market Hall of Triceratops, and some really beautiful older streets and churches, Bilbao also has this:   

Azkuna Zentroa, an old warehouse that also acts as a fairly eclectic-looking centre for arts and displays.


As you can see, we basically spent the day wandering throughout the city and enjoying the sun.

And then we bought pastries. One of which was a rather fantastic custard tart. The other of which was a horrendous dickman-style horror of sugary meringue.

I’ll let you guess which is which.

And that was it for Bilbao. We said goodbye to Doggy, he said goodbye to us, and we hit the road, this time thankfully on transport driven by someone who was not us.   

‘Til Next Time…

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  1. Pingback: Spain Again – Fish with Whiskey

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