Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bouncing around Bilbao!

Hi everyone! Hope the weekend is going well. Mine is going quite well! Yesterday (saturday) I met up with a friend in Bilbao, the biggest city in the Basque Country. It is where I originally flew in, but with my huge suitcases, didn't venture into the actually city. Bilbao is only about 70minutes by bus from San Sebastian, so it wasn't bad when my friend who lives on the other side of Bilbao suggested we meet in the middle and check out Bilbao!

Bilbao is an old industrial city and is not as beautiful and picturesque as San Sebastian, but is much bigger. It was nice to visit another place that was so close, since I have been spending most of my time poking around here. There are still a bunch of things I know I want to do in San Sebastian, but it's always nice to explore - especially with someone who knows the city and the good spots to go!

I arrived after a quick but horrible bus ride. I had a window seat, which I normally love, however it was in the sun, so I was baking the entire time! Glad to have made it, my friend and I went to the Parte Vieja (Old Part) of Bilbao. Because Bilbao was founded in 1300 and grew from there, the old part of town is pretty historic! I live in the Parte Vieja of San Sebastian but it is much smaller than Bilbao. Here is a picture of me in a Plaza that is in the center of Parte Vieja there! After walking around and checking out the gorgeous churches and stores, we popped into a few bars for pintxos (pronounced pinch-os). This is the Basque version of tapas - small little appetizers that you can pick up from a huge selection at the bar and pay after. It is a huge thing over here in Basque Country and almost every bar I have seen has them! I was daring and tried some new stuff - some sort of fish and some other food that my friend didn't know how to translate...yikes! Overall it was quite delicious!

After the Parte Vieja, we made our way to the Guggenheim Museum, which was the main reason we were meeting in Bilbao! The musem is very cool looking - they say there are no straight lines in entire museum, except for the floor! There are 4 of these musems in the world (NY, Bilbao, Berlin and Venice). I did not go to the one in NY, but definitley had it on my to-do list before I left. Eventually I will manage to see it! The art was great at the musem - a lot of sculpture. Thankfully, they give you the audio tour guide thing is any language you chose...I chose English! The main exhibit was from Juan Munoz. Since you are not allowed to take pictures in the museum, you can check out his work here: Juan Munoz. While we couldn't take pictures inside, there is a sculpture garden outside that was awesome. Here is my favorite - it is called Tulips! It is a large sculpture made out of chrome stainless steel. I liked it because I love flowers (flores), but also because the reflection of the museum shines in the reflection of the sculpture. It was fun to take pictures of yourself in different color tulip reflections - that occupied me for a good 15 minutes ha! I think my favorite was yellow (amarillo). If you look at the picture closely you can see my silly audio guide hanging around my neck...such a tourist. Something that I found pointless but somewhat silly was the exit sign in the musem. It is basically just a sign that says exit in a bunch of different languages. There were Salida (Spanish), Ireeta or something like that (Euskera - Basque language) and the same thing in French. For English, instead of it saying Exit, which would make sense, it said 'Way Out.' I just thought that was funny for this world-class museum - ha! Overall, a good visit - check it off the Spain To-Do list!

A little more walking around the city was in order after. Because my friend doesn't speak much English, most of our day was spent speaking in Spanish - which is great practice for me, but mentally tiring! I held a decent conversation throughout the day - from talking about history and food in Parte Vieja to art in Guggenheim! I still need to brush on my grammar, but was happy I could actually converse in Spanish for an entire day!

Bilbao was very fun and it's nice it's so close! I had a great time learning about a new place and practicing Spanish! It was an action-packed day and made me pretty tired. I think that today (sunday) I will dedicate to just laying at the beach all day! Sounds like a pretty good plan to me!


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