“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world”-Freya Stark
Bilbao is a sleepy city. Bigger than I had expected yet small in atmosphere.
When I had first decided to include Spain in my itinerary I chose to journey to Bilbao for a strange reason. In 1999, I saw my first James Bond film with my Dad at the movies. It was The World is Not Enough and in the opening scene of the film Pierce Brosnan is posing as a banker in Bilbao and then of course a whole bunch of James Bond stuff happens and the next thing you know, Bond is casually walking along a bridge with the Guggenheim museum (pictured above) in the background. Whether or not the movie was good is irrelevant, it was simply that that was when I first thought about seeing what Spain was like. That’s why Bilbao was always buried deep in the back of my mind.
Truth be told, I haven’t done an awful lot in Bilbao. My first day here was sunny and I took the opportunity to walk along both banks of the Nervion river. Bilbao (Bilbo in Basque) is certainly a pleasant enough city. It has the typical characteristics of most European cities. Public squares, parks, churches, hipster neighborhoods, large train stations, etc. can all be found here.
What the city is famous for, at least since 1997, is the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. Hailed as one of the greatest achievements in contemporary architecture the building has achieved a beloved status by all who have seen it. I happily count myself among them. I’m normally not too impressed with extravagant deconstructivism architecture, but this museum is real delight to look at. Moreover, the surrounding grounds are equally enjoyable and one could have a fulfilling experience simply walking around the outside perimeter of the building. I did go into the museum and I found some of the works in exhibition to be interesting while others I found to be quite stupid. I don’t understand paint being splashed haphazardly on a canvas and then being declared a masterpiece. I suppose I’ll never be an excepted member of the art community. C’est la vie.
Concluding my week in Spain (really not even Spain, just Catalonia and Bizkhaia) lends itself to asking questions about how the trip was. All in all it was a great one. Particularly in Barcelona, where I met some great people and was fortunate enough to enjoy some truly wondrous experiences. Though this post may be writing about the “conclusion” of my time in Spain I’m not so sure that that’s the case. Indeed, speaking with all sorts of people at my hostel in Barcelona has left me thinking that another trip to Spain will have to be arranged sometime before I leave Europe. Each time we sat down in the kitchen at Sant Jordi Arago I’d here “Malaga was great!”, “when I was in Seville I couldn’t believe how much fun it was”, “I’m going to Granada tomorrow!” and all of this has sparked an interest in Spain that was previously lacking. Thinking of it now, I’m on the edge of my 10th month in Europe, and I’ve only just made it to Spain. Eastern Europe remains another top priority for me and it will have to be addressed sooner than later, but I think an additional trip to southern Spain will have to be concluded.
I’ll simply just have to keep an eye out for cheap flights. Skyscanner.net has been helpful in that it lists the cheapest days of each month to travel, and if you’re lucky enough to have availability on those days, you can travel to most places in Europe for under $100. Once I start my internship in June my travel time will preclude me from getting out of London too much though. Money must be saved for when I return to the states and move to DC.
I’ll keep this as a relatively short post. No sense in dragging on about my random musings. I’ll try to keep some thoughts to myself.