Spain
Bilbao

Here you’ll find travel reports about Bilbao. Discover travel destinations in Spain of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

61 travelers at this place:

  • Day4

    The Slow Train to Bilbao

    September 21 in Spain

    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 be able to begin in earnest.
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  • Day5

    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 tje 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 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 stainless steel 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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  • Day87

    Bilbao

    August 3 in Spain

    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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  • Day7

    About 31kms to Bilbao

    September 18, 2017 in Spain

    We left Gernika at about 7am, with no fixed plan other than to have coffee in Larrabetzu (16kms) and decide whether to walk to Lezama, or all the way to Bilbao.

    The first part of the walk involved more mud and hills, but we picked up our pace on the road sections. We felt pretty good after our Larrabetzu break and figured we could probably make it to Bilbao. We walked with Jim, who we'd met a few times over the past few days. The company and the chat definitely made things easier.

    On reaching Zamudio, we figured that it was time for some food. We spotted a bar/restaurant opposite the train station and with no particular expectations, looked inside. We were brought downstairs to a busy dining room, filled with workers on their lunch break, enjoying an €11 menu del dia. It was lovely and just what we needed.

    After lunch, Jim and I continued walking to Bilbao (8.4kms, according to Strava) and Damian took the train. This was a nicer walk than I expected, although the rain made the mud even sloppier than before. It was good to eventually arrive in the city and to walk through an area I haven't seen before.

    We've had so much rain and mud over the past few days. According to the weather forecast, things should improve tomorrow as we head back towards the coast. Yay!
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  • Day12

    Bilbao

    December 12, 2016 in Spain

    So, I've arrived in Bilbao. After freezing to death riding in the UK I must say I'm enjoying spring like temperatures of 15 degrees. Bilbao is great!

    A few revelations so far;
    1) British are the worst drivers! I had to "sprint" across a petrol station and bang on the side of a van to bring to the attention of said white van man's bovine mind that he was about to reverse over my bike at great pace. He stopped with about 8 inches to spare.
    2) I can declare that I'm not seasick. The journey from Portsmouth to bilbao was a tad rough. It says a lot that when I was in bed I was sliding from one end to the other as the boat rocked. Sadly it didn't have its own radio station or any of the other perks.
    3) I shouldn't pack the bike in such a way that it requires a polevault to mount it and enduring cramp to dismount.
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  • Day33

    Bilbao, Spain

    September 4, 2017 in Spain

    Today we toured the Basque Coast and visited historic villages. Bermeo, a fishing village, has houses painted bright colors because the area is gray and gets a lot of rain.
    The town of Guernica, founded in 1366 was bombed by Germany in 1937 and inspired Picasso's painting Guernica. We also visited the elegantly appointed Assembly House.
    We ended the tour with tapas and wine.

  • Day4

    Berlin to Bilbao

    April 14 in Spain

    4/14 A day of travel. Raining in Berlin, off to airport for a long days trip to Bilbao. Berlin to Dusseldorf - 4-5 hour layover - Dusseldorf to Bilbao. Eurowings Arrived in Bilbao around 8:30 PM, Taxi to airbnb by 9PM. Great 7th floor apartment - Andoni our host had all ready for us. Loft apartment, Illene upstairs. Off to visit Casco Viejo -old town. What a nightlife scene !! 3 star. Bars, restaurants and people/kids everywhere on the meandering cobblestone streets. So much fun. We
    had a couple glasses of wine while walking around and just enjoyed the
    atmosphere of the socializing - Bilbao style.

    Miles: 4
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  • Day48

    Day 48: Across to Bilbao

    April 4, 2017 in Spain

    Time to move on again, and another busy day - a double UNESCO day. Lots of sites in a fairly small area here up on Spain's northern coastline, so it was proving to be a busy couple of weeks.

    We left the apartment around 10:30am and started our 2 hour drive eastwards to the first stop - the Altamira Caves. This is a large cave complex where paleolithic paintings were discovered in the late 19th century. Most of the paintings are between 15,000 and 35,000 years old and they're absolutely incredible! Vivid colours, excellent representations (mostly of animals like deer, horses, cows and the now-extinct bison), and the artists had even used the contours of the rocks in the ceiling to create depth effects on their paintings.

    Unfortunately for us though, the visit wasn't so great. You aren't allowed into the actual cave any more (it's been shut for tourists since the 1980s for obvious conservation reasons), but they've created a big museum and a supposedly perfect replica of the caves right next door. That was cool enough, but for some reason you aren't allowed to film or photograph inside the cave replica either! So it's going to be a pretty crappy video for my channel.

    Neither of us were particularly impressed either that the entire museum was packed with hundreds of misbehaving schoolkids - young children being young children, ten year olds mucking around and screaming, and noisy teenagers being typical shits. It was really awful. Probably the most disappointed we've been in a UNESCO site so far I think. I get that it's important cultural heritage and that it's important for kids to see it, but they needed to be kept in line more, and maybe not bring hundreds through at the same time?

    Back to the car, where we drove further eastwards to the city of Bilbao, the capital of Basque country. It's very different here to the rest of Spain, as most of the signs are in Basque first and then Spanish second, lots of Basque flags around and the countryside is different as well. Pine trees and green farmlands, rather than hot and dry olive groves you'd usually associate with Spain.

    Our second site for the day was the Vizcaya Bridge, a huge gondola bridge spanning the river just north of Bilbao. It's a marvel of industrial age engineering, 50 metres high and a couple of hundred metres long. In the late 19th century the locals needed a bridge to cross the river, but they couldn't build a low bridge because of all the maritime traffic coming in and out of Bilbao. They couldn't build a high bridge because it would require ramps and a lot of money, plus the space needed would mean knocking down huge swathes of the towns on either bank.

    So they came up with a gondola bridge! It's essentially a tall suspension bridge, except instead of a road deck, it has a gondola suspended from high steel cables that slides back and forth between either bank. These days it only fits six cars, a few motorbikes and a bunch of pedestrians, but in the horse & cart days it must've been very useful!

    We spent a couple of hours here admiring and crossing - walked across the top catwalk and then came back on the gondola. I think it's the newest heritage site we've been to so far, and very impressive. Interesting to see it on the same day as one of the oldest we've been to! And the first one in the category of "industrial sites" - very different to the usual medieval, religious and Roman sites we've seen.

    Late afternoon we drove down to Bilbao and our accommodation. In a good spot right in the centre of town, sixth floor apartment with district views I guess. Only downside was no grass or trees nearby for Schnitzel to relieve himself on!

    We headed straight out into the city for a walk around, exploring the old town (mostly 17th century) and following the river around to the city's main attraction these days, the Guggenheim Art Museum. It had just closed, but we were planning on visiting tomorrow.

    For dinner we headed back to one of the main squares to check out the big culinary attraction - pintxos (pronounced pinch-os). These are basically fancy little bar snacks that you order with a drink, the idea being you just order a few of these with a drink, enjoy them and then head to another bar. Sort of like tapas but these are straight off the bar, rather than ad-hoc from the kitchen.

    We visited one of the highly rated ones and had some great stuff - chicken yakitori skewer, baguette with sausage, a few different types of croquettes and bacalod (codfish) of course. Very tasty! Good that Schnitzel was welcome to join us inside as well, he sat on the floor and was very well behaved. Last stop was around the corner from our apartment where we had a slice of cake and a coffee/hot chocolate.

    Back to the apartment very tired but looking forward to exploring more of the city!
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  • Day49

    Day 49: Guggenheim Museum

    April 5, 2017 in Spain

    No UNESCO for today! Only thing we had planned was to visit the Guggenheim museum, one of the city's key attractions. We headed there fairly early, about 10:15am and just after it opened. Quite a few different things to see! It's entirely modern art, from about 1910 onwards. Lots of works by well-known modern artists including Picasso, Warhol, Basquiat, Pollock and others.

    Stopped briefly for a spot of lunch in the museum cafe around lunchtime, fairly expensive for what it was but not too bad I guess. Kept going after lunch through the Abstract Expressionism gallery which was quite interesting, but unfortunately I had to leave around 2pm as our Mercedes finally needed to go back to the depot. We'd tried to extend the rental further but Avis have a maximum 30 day duration, making us out of luck.

    So off to the airport I went! Thankfully only a 30 minute drive, and relatively painless to get in and out of the rental office. But the best part was that when I mentioned to the car return girl that I was picking up another car, she asked if I wanted to keep the Mercedes! Uhh, yes! So after about 15 minutes of paperwork and signatures I drove back out of the same car park in the same car! Funny how these things work out sometimes. Lucky too, since I'd forgotten I needed to fill it with fuel before returning it.

    Met Shandos back at our apartment where we relaxed for the next few hours before heading out for dinner later on. People eat a bit earlier here than in other parts of Spain, the whole idea of heading out at 11pm doesn't seem to happen as much. Maybe because of the colder weather? Kitchens still often don't open until 8pm, but there's always pintxos a la barre (at the bar) to snack on before you can have pintxos calientes (hot).

    We visited 3 different spots and had a couple at each, along with a drink. Afterwards we were hoping for dessert at the same bar as last night, but alas they weren't doing coffee and we didn't feel like having another alcoholic beverage, so we found a gelato place that sold cakes and coffee and perched up. Schnitzel is very welcome everywhere here too, unlike other parts of Spain. Portugal just seemed to have a blanket ban on dogs in indoor dining areas, but unless it's a nice restaurant here nobody seems bothered. People are less uptight about it as well, if he barks he startles people but you don't get the endless filthy glances like in Australia.

    Back home to bed before another travel day tomorrow, our days in Bilbao are at an end!
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  • Day27

    Bilbao - ES

    June 10, 2016 in Spain

    The fishing villages only awaken after 5 pm. The harbours become the local swimming pool and meeting place and and are a hive of activity.

    In one of the attached pictures is a school playground, on the beach. How cool is that ?

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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