Another good side trip from San Sebastian is to Bilbao. For me, the main thing I wanted to see was the Guggenheim Museum. This is just over an hour away and from what I read it was easy to get to by bus, so I just went on my own, without a guide.
Before leaving the hotel, I ate breakfast in my room. I had picked up some things from the market the night before. I thought yogurt and a peach made a nice, light breakfast.
Then I headed to the bus station and got there with about 30 minutes to spare until the bus left San Sebastian for Bilbao.
I took one picture while on the bus. This isn't because it was ugly out there because I will say it was far from that. It was beautiful scenery the whole way. My only problem was the glare from the window.
When I arrived in Bilbao, I first headed to the tourism information desk. The gentleman working there did not speak English, so it wasn't entirely helpful, and in the end, I took a cab to the museum. Once I arrived I realized I was actually hungry and not knowing how long the museum would take to walk through, I decided to grab something to eat first. A short walk down the road turned up a few options, but La Embajada looked the best (and busiest).
I ordered a pepper omelet. In Spain, the omelets like this are served cold. Good thing I know this ot I would have wondered why my breakfast eggs were not hot.
I also thought a coffee was much needed by this point. Don't forget, I am already on day 18 of travel!
Across from the museum are some nice looking buildings. They have some newer buildings with modern architecture (as another tourism office was telling me after I left the museum).
Out front is this adorable tree sculpture. They were busy watering it and making sure it looks nice for the public. I wonder how often they have to do that.
Here is the museum at ground level, but to enter you actually go down some stairs.
The museum did not allow pictures inside. I have found that some do, but others don't. I generally follow the rules (you will see an exception below), and seeing as I know how to read, if a sign says no photography, I abide by this, no matter how badly I want pictures. But, once I stepped outside, lots of people were taking pictures, so naturally I did too.
Ok, here is my exception. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, was taking pictures of this. No employee stopped anyone and no one said anything, and there were even flashes going off. This was a maze like, life size installation work, and when you are on that level you can walk through them (not a smart idea if you get dizzy easily like I do). Ah, I did, I took a picture of this. But, this was the only thing inside the museum I took a picture of.
Here is more from outside and around the museum.
Again, thank heavens for the self-timer on the camera.
After the museum I went to the tourism office outside the museum. There I found a very helpful gentleman, and he spoke English. He gave me some suggestions, and I liked his first idea, so that is what I did. I walked along the river over to the old side of town. I took a picture of this tree because there was just something about it.
They were doing a lot of construction over here, but behind the barriers is a bridge.
They have a lot of sculptures and fun architecture around this side of town.
I am not sure what this is, but I thought it looked like it must be something important.
This was over in the old section of town. It certainly looks older than some of the other stuff I saw.
Once inside the older section, I found a place for lunch. I was hungry, so I stopped early on to avoid wandering and wandering and getting to the point where I felt like I could pass out. Zuga had a nice display of pintxos and a good crowd outside.
I looked at all the pintxos they had on the bar.
In the end I picked these two, which the bar tender heated up for me. One was salmon with peppers and a mushroom on top and the other was cheese with something on top (and like a pesto sauce on top of that).
Then I turned the corner, and wouldn't you know it, my favorite store, Natura, was right there. I bought two things at the one in Madrid, but I was able to find one more thing here. Score!
Then I walked a little more in the old section and came across Plaza Santiago.
I love the little apartments like this. They look so cute from the outside and are always decorate with colorful flowers.
I guess I worked up an appetite (or didn't eat enough lunch), so I stopped for some ice cream.
After getting a little lost and having a police officer help me find my way, I came across this, which according to my map, I think is a station. Perhaps it was at one point but now acts as something else. I really have no idea since I didn't go check it out.
Then I was on my way to head down the Gran Via, which is the main shopping street down Bilbao. Here is Plaza Mayor, the main intersection on this street. Lots of nice looking buildings here too.
I found another church (surprising, right?!?!). While I may not be interested in churches for religious reasons, I am interested in them from a historical and artistic (architectural) perspective. They are all very impressive.
My last monument in Bilboa was the Sacred Heart monument. This is where I turned off the Gran Via and started to make my way back to the train station.
Here is a zoomed in close up of the statue at the top of the monument.
I had almost made it out of town without buying or eating anything else, but then I passed by Correa e Hijos and the smell was too good to resist.
These were crazy. They were at least 6 inches high.
In the end I bought two of these little cookies (like a pastry inside) for the bus ride back to San Sebastian.
Just before getting to the bus station I passed this. I am almost certain, and I am using the map to help me, but I am almost certain this is a soccer (football) stadium.
I made it to the bus station with 5 minutes to spare until the next bus, so I was relieved to realize I made it back in time and wouldn't have to wait.
When I got back to the hotel, I washed up and packed most of my things because I needed to be ready to leave my hotel the next morning for my next location (any guesses?). I wanted to head to the beach and eat somewhere along the beach, but by the time I got over in that direction it looked like it might rain and I really didn't want to get stuck in the rain. Instead I just walked and walked and walked in the neighborhoods by my hotel. Eventually I was starving and knew I just had to pick somewhere. I went with Bokoy, which was right across from my hotel.
As usual (in Europe that is), I started off with some bread.
I ordered a few pintxos. This was a shrimp skewer with peppers on a piece of bread.
Next was black rice (I am guessing from squid ink) topped with squid.
My last pintxo was scallop with béchamel sauce baked in a scallop shell.
I really liked all 3 of the things I had ordered. It ended up being a lot and I couldn't even finish everything. It was a great end to a great day.
Up Next...Any guesses???
QUESTIONS: Have you ever been to a Guggenheim Museum? Do you have a major (monumental or really old) church in your city/town?