Places to Go (Vacation) - BIlBAO, SPAIN (Days 18-20) - Dragging Our Kids Through Europe, Part X
We visited Bilbao in order to see/tour/experience Frank Gehry's architectural masterpiece, the Guggenheim. Apart from the art museum, Bilbao didn't have much to recommend it, prior to the Guggenheim's arrival the city had primarily existed as an industrial center and, according the the guidebooks, Bilbao still didn't have a lot to offer tourists. But we ended up falling in love with this town and considered our time there one of the highlights of our vacation.
First of all, we stayed in a gorgeous topfloor apartment in the city's old town (you can see it here). Up until this point, T usually slept on a pull-out couch, so having three bedrooms felt crazy special. Especially since Dan and I had a master-suite, basically a mini-vacation in itself.
As you can see, we spent a lot of time just hanging out - napping, playing chess and cards, watching movies together (yes, we all gathered for a family movie on the ipad, thank you Amazon Prime). Everyone loves a siesta.
When we finally ventured into old town (i.e. exited the building) we focused on the food. Like San Sebastian, Bilbao has tons of wonderful Basque eataries and pintxos are served everywhere, but the lack of crowds made it easier to discover new things. F and P gravitated toward a stand/restaurant that only sold french fries (um, so in retrospect, maybe we weren't as creative in our eating as I remember), I couldn't get over the windows and windows of salted cod. And T loved the "milk machine", he still says that Bilbao had the best milk ever.
And, of course, more pinxtos, though by this point, we were somewhat sick of eating meals made up of appetizers.
For our first (and only) full day in Bilbao we decided to walk the river to the Guggenheim, which was the perfect way to experience the building. Almost like a mountain sprouting out of nowhere. Plus, the river had tons of playgrounds and lots of art.
You aren't allowed to photograph Guggenheim exhibits, which made me super sad. Luckily, Jeff Koons's retrospective included a few designated photo spots, hence the photo of P with Popeye. I was also disappointed to learn that the museum does not house a permanent collection, outside of a few large sculptures. Oh well, I like Koons' large playful art, though after awhile it becomes redundant (Dan, on the other hand, did not care for Koons' quirkiness). And Jean-Michel Basquiat's work was on display upstairs, but he's never been a favorite of mine.
Another "fancy" lunch out. As this city was smaller, the waitress spoke no English and it took awhile to find the restaurant's English-translated menu. But the food was good, even T actually ate. Yay!!
We spent our evening touring various playgrounds along the river, which seemed like the perfect end to a wonderful day. Plus, the playgrounds were quite creative.
We woke in the morning to a cold, foggy day (which felt pretty wonderful after Italy's crazy heat) and walked the 2 miles to the car rental agency, passing the Guggenheim on our way.
HAPPY WEDNESDAY EVERYONE!! In a few weeks, I'll post the last of the Europe pics - our Spanish road trip and Disney Paris.