This Guggenheim Certainly Isn't CrazySeptember 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".Read more