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  • Day5

    This Guggenheim Certainly Isn't Crazy

    September 22, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    There are some cities that you just quickly dislike from the start and there are others that immediately make a favourable impression from the moment you take the first step out of your hotel door. I am pleased to say that Bilboa is definitely one of the latter. In fact I would go as far to say that it is a beautiful, beautiful city - a place that I could quickly get to love.

    With its modest population of 300,000 it is big enough to feel like a substantial place, but small enough to feel personal. It is also helped by the fact that it is situated in a natural amphitheatre with a line of hilltops surrounding the central part of the city. The lazy River Nervion wanders through the centre of the city, making it so easy to never get lost. When you want to find you way back to the hotel, just follow the river bank.

    I must admit that the day did not get off to a great start. When I checked my computer for the football score in the second Preliminary Final, I could see that Melbourne was already ten goals behind and it was not yet half time. So much for the dream result of a Grand Final between Melbourne and Collingwood. Somehow I could not feel disappointed as it really had been a good year for the Demons, and we had finally had a few reasons to feel heart after 54 years in the doldrums.

    At breakfast we met up with Allan and Lorelle who had arrived in Bilbao the previous day. .John Wilcock had also made it safely from Barcelona without having his pockets picked. That brought our team up to 6, meaning that we had reached the half way point. By this evening all the team should be here and we will be able to share our first meal together.

    Speaking of breakfast - it was superb. I am a little ashamed to say that I somehow spent two hours there, although I was not eating the entire time. We did do a lot of talking, laughing and catching up.

    After breakfast Allan, Douglas and I wandered out to see more of this wonderful city. Once again the weather was perfect. Although every day the temperature is in the mid 30s, it is not as tiring as you might expect. The low humidity helps to keep you comfortable (and it really helps your washing to dry also).

    Baby boomers of the 1950s and 1960 might remember the Jackie Gleeson Show on TV. It featured a guy with a funny hat called "Crazy Guggenheim". (In case you are thinking that is a funny name for a hat, it was the guy that was called Crazy Guggenheim, not the hat). His real name was Frankie Fontaine and he had a superb singing voice that somehow he got to feature at the end of every comedy skit.

    A short walk along the river from our hotel there is another Guggenheim - the Guggenheim Museum of modern art. Although I had seen pictures of this amazing building, nothing can prepare you for seeing it the first time in the flesh. I am not an expert in architecture, but this place really is a work of art in its own right. In fact I would have been happy to just stare at it from different angles for hours. Although I am proud of our Sydney Opera House, in all honesty I would have to say that this place is far, far more beautiful.

    It would be hard for me to describe the building, other than to say it resembles a fluid collection of shapes and angles that seem to dance before your eyes and play tricks with your sense of perspective. The entire exterior is covered with what must be hundreds of thousands of titanium panels which reflect the shapes and colours of the landscape and sky.

    One of the iconic features of this building is a large, spider like object between the back of the building and the river. It reminded me of some alien creature from War of the Worlds. At irregular times the entire riverfront area is obscured by a mist of water ejected from concealed jets. I suspect that this feature is especially welcome in the middle of summer.

    Tomorrow we will be exploring the interior of the Guggenheim, so I did not enter inside today. I wandered back along the riverfront, somehow losing Allan and Douglas in the process and later found myself in the centre of the old city. This is a region of tiny alleyways, old half timbered buildings and an imposing cathedral. It was this type of old city that we had felt was missing from Madrid.

    As I sat down for lunch next to the cathedral I took my hat and sunglasses off. The sunglasses immediately snapped right in half. So much for taking them on the Camino. It was just as well I had not paid for them. Actually I found them a couple of years ago in the glove compartment of a rental car in the UK, so I don't suppose I can complain.

    I arrived back at the hotel at around 2.30 pm and felt that it might be time for a siesta. You know the old saying about "when in Rome".
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  • Day4

    The Slow Train to Bilbao

    September 21, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    The distance from Madrid to Bilbao is only about 400 km by car. When I found out that the "high speed" renfe train would take us over 5 hours to complete the trip, you can understand why I was slightly confused. Douglas and I had lashed out the bargain price of only 22 Euro for First Class (Preferenta) seating,whereas Allan had, for some unknown reason, opted to settle for a standard seat when he made his booking. When we found out that we had all paid the same amount for our seats, the situation became even more mystifying. But this is Spain after all.

    We had previously spent our last morning in Madrid having a final wander around the streets of the central city. We had elected Douglas to be the tour leader as he seemed to have spent the most time learning the major landmarks. All he was missing was a selfie stick with a yellow flag on the end.

    He soon had us frogmarching up and down a series of hills (mostly up) and through a number of gift shops. He has been on a quest to find a charm for his wife to attach to her charm bracelet. His quest seems just as forlorn as that of the legendary Man of la Mancha. After three days in Madrid, all he has managed to buy is a brightly coloured dress, and I am not convinced that it is even his size.

    By midday it was getting hot again and I was starting to get hungry. I asked Douglas if lunch was included in his tour, but apparently it wasn't. The first place we considered eating at was about as quiet as the main runway of Tullamarine during take off time. The combination of jack hammers and other heavy equipment was enough to make my ear drums bleed. We went on a quest for quietness and finally found a much more peaceful pedestrian only area, with a likely looking outdoor eatery.

    We picked up a couple of menus and could not believe the great prices of the food. A lovely looking baguette, filled with chicken, cost only 1.2 Euros (about $1.60 AUD). There was even about a 100 different combinations to choose from. We ordered our baguettes, paid our Euro 1.20 and waited for the feast to arrive. What nobody had warned us was that the photos in the menu must have been taken through an electron microscope with a 100,000 x magnification. The baguettes were actually perfect miniature reproductions - each about 4 cm long. I ate mine in two swallows and still felt hungry. We learned that you are meant to order quite a few of them to make a lunch. At least the drinks were cold and cheap also. Next time we will look for a proper tour guide who would have clearly explained such local idiosyncrasies.

    On the other side of our planet there was a football match going on in Melbourne. It was the preliminary final between Collingwood and Richmond. To our shock and horror, Collingwood was actually winning. We could only imagine how horrible it must have been at the MCG with all those toothless and tattooed Collingwood supporters belching their delight. I really was glad I was a world away at that time.

    By 2 pm it was getting hot and it was time for us to check out of our hotel and catch a taxi to Chamartin Station. We had ordered and negotiated a special rate for the taxi and were impressed when a shiny black limo arrived to chauffeur us to the station. We felt like pop stars as we were silently gliding through the streets to the large central station.

    After a short wait we made our way to the allotted train and took our seats (Doug and I in First Class and Allan in steerage). Right on time the train started moving and was soon smoothly making its way through the rolling hills to the north of Madrid. According to my GPS we were moving at around 150 kph, so there was no way the 400 km trip could take over 5 hours. Or so I thought.

    Over the next couple of hours the speed of the train varied between 70 kph and around 150 km and the landscape slowly became more hilly and interesting. We passed a succession of picturesque villages, each with its obligatory large church in the middle. Rather than travel in a straight line, the route of the train started to curve and wander around large hills, sometimes passing through extended tunnels. The time slowly passed. The outside grew darker. Unfortunately Bilbao drew no closer.

    With over two hours still to go, Bilbao was still 100 km away and the light had almost gone. It was only when it was completely black that the train entered a spectacular mountainous region. Well I am sure it would have been spectacular if we could have seen anything. I was watching the screen of my GPS which showed just how circuitous the route was. At times the train almost completely doubled back to where it had been 20 minutes earlier. The route that was being drawn on my screen began to resemble a snake in its death throes. All this time the speed of the train had slowed down to what seemed like walking pace. Now we understood why the journey was going to take so long. It was just a pity that we saw none of it.

    The train finally rolled (very slowly) into Bilbao Abando Station at about 9. 20 pm. The journey seemed almost as long as our flight from Australia a few days earlier, but we were here. We were also very hungry as we had not eaten anything since that microscopic baguette, about 9 hours earlier.

    Outside the station we climbed into a taxi and asked to be taken to the Barcelo Hotel. He didn't seem excited. When we arrived at the hotel, about 500 metres from the station, we understood why. It had taken him longer to pack our luggage into the boot than the actual journey itself. I felt we had to reward him, so I gave him a smile and a generous extra 3 Euro. Considering that was twice what I had spent on my lunch, I reckoned it was pretty good.

    The luxurious Barcelo Nirveon Hotel was a rather pleasant surprise. Sometimes it is nice to be spoilt and this was a lovely surprise after the long train trip. Even though it was well after 10 pm, the restaurant was still open and the 15 Euro set menu was great value. It was also delicious.

    Back in my room I was thrilled that my room had a real window and the bed was soft, clean and cool. By tomorrow all of our team will have assembled and our adventure will begin in earnest.
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  • Day13

    Ein Tag mit Guggenheim

    April 22, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Zunächst gibt es eine gute Nachricht zu vermelden, Henri war ab dem Vormittag den ganzen Tag fieberfrei
    und hat auch am Abend keine gegenteiligen Anzeichen gezeigt. Toi, toi, toi...wir hoffen es bleibt so!!
    Das Wetter war perfekt für den Ausflug zum Museo Guggenheim, der Attraktion von Bilbao und dem ganzen
    Baskenland. Auf dem Weg dorthin sind wir ein bisschen durch die Millionen Metropole spaziert und haben am Rand das ein oder andere interessante Gebäude bestaunen können. Aber bei weitem war nichts so spektakulär wie das Guggenheim. Die silberfarbenen Rundungen des Gebäudes (Fertigstellung im Jahr 1997) wurden von Frank O. Gehry entsonnen und ähneln mal
    einem Schiff und mal einer Blume. Die Sammlung des Museums präsentiert auf über 11000 m² ein faszinierend breites Spektrum moderner und
    zeitgenössischer Kunst. Die Betrachtung der vielen Facetten nahm einige Zeit in Anspruch und es gab immer wieder Überraschungen
    zu bestaunen. Anna war ganz angetan von der Hundefigur "Puppy", eine mit Blumen bepflanzte Skulptur, welche von Innen bewässert wird.
    Im angrenzenden Spielplatz konnte sich Anna so richtig austoben und auch Henri wollte ganz viel Laufen. Wir haben nebenbei ein Kaffee bei Sonnenschein und sommerlichen Temperaturen genossen.
    Auf dem Rückweg zu unserem Bus kamen wir noch am Estadio Sa Mamés, der Spielstätte von Athletic Club de Bilbao, vorbei.
    Und dann gibt es noch eine Premiere zu vermelden, wird werden erstmalig auf unseren WoMo-Touren die 2te Nacht auf dem selben Stellplatz übernachten.
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  • Day3

    Plaza Nuvea, Bilbao

    December 10, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Mit der Metro sind wir zurück in die Stadt, diesmal mit Sitzplatz und fast leer.

    Zum Abendessen haben wir am Plaza Nuvea ein nettes Restaurant gefunden.

    Nach dem Essen ging es quer durch die Altstadt nochmal zur Markthalle.Read more

  • Day5

    Bar Iruna, Bilbao

    March 7, 2019 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    After a great deal of research, we decided that this was our favourite bar in Bilbao. The marinaded lamb kebabs just melted in your mouth. Great selection of food and drink. Perfect for people watching too!Read more

  • Day87


    August 3, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Heute geht es weiter nach Bilbao. Unser letzter Stop bevor die Heimfahrt beginnt und der einzige im Baskenland.
    Wir sind auf einem Stellplatz mit super Aussicht über die Stadt. Heute hat es knapp 40 Grad. Wir verbringen den Nachmittag also am Platz im Schatten und machen uns erst so um 17 Uhr auf dem Weg in die Stadt. Wir fahren mit dem öffentlichen Bus bis ins Zentrum. Der Mercado Central und die Kathedrale gefallen uns nicht besonders gut. Wir gehen weiter und kommen zur "Zubizuri Brücke". Danach gehen wir zum Guggenheim Museum. Hier kann man schon von außen viele Kunstwerke sehen. Wirklich schön!
    Danach geht es auch schon wieder Richtung Bus. Noch ein letztes Mal geht es in unseren geliebten Decathlon, den es in München leider noch nicht gibt. Jetzt genießen wir noch den Blick über die Stadt und gehen dann bald schon ins Bett, da morgen die lange Fahrt ansteht.
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  • Day11

    Guggenheim Museum! Ich flipp aus!

    September 10, 2019 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    Puppy von Jeff Koons steht vor der Tür

You might also know this place by the following names:

Bilbao, Bilbau, بلباو, Горад Більбаа, Билбао, Bilbo, بیلباو, Μπιλμπάο, بیلبائو, בילבאו, Բիլբաո, BIO, ビルバオ, ბილბაო, Бильбао, 빌바오, Bilbaum, बिल्बाओ, Bilbo / Bilbao, 48001, บิลบาโอ, Bilbaw, Більбао, 毕尔巴鄂

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