10th August 2018
After Part 1 of our trip roving around Oviedo and Part 2 exploring the coast, it was time for me and Kevin to head to our final destination for a couple of days: Bilbao! It wasn’t to be the first time that I’d visited Bilbao, after a group of us made a very short stop there during our Basque Road Trip almost a year back, so I was ready to discover the city basically much from scratch this time.
With rather heavy heads, Kevin and I took it easy as we drove down the coastal road towards the Basque Country, arriving to park in the airport (for ease of use), after which we caught a bus to the city centre and wandered to the hostel which we’d booked for the two nights. The first night we’d arrived quite late, and so grabbed some food to eat in the street before heading back for an early night.
The next day we woke up as early as we could bare to, and grabbed some breakfast at the hostel before heading out to begin wandering around the city. We headed down to the river and began following our noses, which eventually lead us down to the bridge over which we’d crossed into the city the night before.
Along the way we were keeping our eyes peeled for some good pintxos, which are basically little pieces of bread adorned with all kinds of delicious toppings, and are the food for which the region is famed. Once we’d crossed the bridge towards the Guggenheim side, we were led down to the rear of the museum, where we stopped a while for a rest and to listen to the street performances.
It was here where we suddenly noticed smoke rising from underneath the footpath, a thick fog which soon began to spread and cover the manmade pond by which we were sat. We never really got to the bottom of exactly what the smoke was all about, but I’m guessing it was some kind of installation. Whatever it was, it was pretty cool, especially as it was accompanied by Andre Rieu’s somewhat eerie Second Waltz courtesy of one of the street musicians.
Once we’d reached the other side of the Guggenheim Museum, we found ourselves amongst the streets of the more modern area of the city. Here we began to search for a bite to lunch, but it seemed as though all the decent spots were bunched in the old area of the city, so it was there that we headed. It turned out to be the right move, for we were soon traversing the little streets of the old centre, dipping in and out of little bars and eating a variety of delicious pintxos along the way.
After we’d filled up on all kinds of pintxos, from crab and egg to sublimely simple jamón and cheese, we decided to head out to an area on the coast. Grabbing a return ticket on the metro, we were soon pacing along the gorgeous coastline, and I stopped for an ice cream and to feel the sand between my toes (but only because it had gotten in my shoes).
Once we’d had our fill of the sea breeze, we returned to the hostal to freshen up and then headed out for another evening eating pintxos around the centre. As darkness descended on the city, we grabbed some snacks and sat by the river, enjoying the evening breeze and chatting away until late.
The next day unfortunately heralded our last in Bilbao, with our 48 hours there seeming to finish just as soon as they’d begun. That morning we headed to a local café to try a traditional Basque pastry we’d seen everywhere – indeed it’s pretty hard to miss with it’s huge chocolate and orange meringue spiral!
As we’d an hour or so to kill before we’d to leave the hostel, we made a visit to the Basque Museum which was handily located just down the road. We started with a hard-hitting exhibition exploring the Spanish civil war, before moving on to explore some of the huge figurines which are carried around during the local fiestas, amongst many other things.
Sooner than we’d have liked though, it was time for us to leave. We hopped back on the bus we’d taken just 48 hours before and were dropped off at the airport, where I helped Kevin maneuver the car out of the car park, and suddenly it was time to say our goodbyes until the next time.
What then followed was a four hour delay (yes, four hours, thanks EasyJet), but I made a friend in the airport in a lady who was also travelling from Bilbao to Manchester – and was also from Burnley! It’s a small world after all! Once I’d landed I was diligently picked up by my parents, and once we’d arrived back in Burnley I pretty much immediately crashed back into bed.
I’ll be bringing updates on what we got up to in England in yet another blog post, but that might wound up being delayed for a while as I’ve plans to leave Madrid for the weekend, and also plans for a few blog posts which will be a slight break from the usual programming. As ever, I’ll be back soon!