Day 71 – Rest day, Bilbao

Woke his morning to a foggy, damp world. The river is about 30 metres from the hotel, and was invisible; I could see the glow of car headlights, but not much else. Damp, and cool; it’s not expected to get over 22C today. That’s 15C cooler than yesterday.

The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, and wanted 10 Euro for breakfast. Nope. I’d bought a litre of OJ late yesterday, which I drank before showering; then got dressed, and headed out. A nearby cafe provided coffee, omelette and toast for 4 Euro.  Much better value – and the second cup of coffee was free.

It was just after 9:00 am; the Guggenheim opens at 10:00 am, so I walked along the river bank towards it, watching the spruikers and souvenir sellers setting up.

The Guggenheim is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and is undergoing some renovations/refurbishment – not that they’re changing anything; it’s a protected building. It’s just getting a major overhaul; cleaned and repaired outside, and inside they’re redoing each level; new electrics, floors, paintwork, etc. It’s the second level’s turn currently, so only the ground floor and the third level are open.

And the inside is a bit of a disappointment; the building itself is a major work of art in its own right, but the first (ground) level is just admin; tickets, shop, security and cloakroom; the foyer is quite spectacular, but the only art on display is rolled rusty steel sheets; it looked like a scrap yard to my untutored eye.

The third level has several galleries, one currently dedicated to post-impressionism, one to pop art, and another to famous Spanish painters – though no Picasso’s, or Goya’s. The outside was more interesting than the inside. Maybe I’m just a Philistine, though.


It took me an hour and a half to wander through the exhibits, then out to the river bank.

Bilbau is in a steep, narrow valley; on the East side of the river it’s barely three streets deep, and on the West side it climbs the hillside, but is still much less than  a kilometre wide. The river’s edge is a series of parks, down towards the docks – the way South is just an endless series of suburbs stretching 10 – 15 Km up the valley.

I’m heading North, then West, so I walked my way to the edge of town; I’ve got some serious climbing to start the day again. I walked for four hours, then found a restaurant/bar for a late lunch/early dinner – seafood pasta, grilled fish, chocolate cake and cream. I bought  a cheese roll on my way back to the hotel’ that’ll be breakfast.

Rain tomorrow, and a maximum of 21C. An amazing change in the weather. I’ve re-arranged my panniers so my rain gear is readily available. I’ll be on the road early, as it’s 70 plus Km to my next stop; the last stop before Santander.

See you down the road.

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