The choice to stay in San Sebastian was partially driven by the proximity to Bilbao. It is an old industrial city in Spain and the capital of the wealthy Basque Country. Sixteen years ago I read an article in the New York Times magazine about new Guggenheim museum built in Bilbao by Frank Gehry. The article said that this is the most amazing structure built in 20th century and Philip Johnson deemed it “the greatest building of our time”. I had to see it!
We arrived in Bilbao in cloudy morning and as soon we got out of the bus station the city immediately charmed me. The modern life was perfectly integrated in old city. The streets are full of life, the store windows are enticing and vistas are beautiful wherever you look.
The Guggenheim building was even more stunning than I imagine.
Major modern artists are represented by huge exhibit by Jeff Koon and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
But the most impressive was a permanent installation “Matter of time” by Richard Serra. The installation consists of several shapes-sculptures made from huge steel plates curved and layered in round and elliptical labyrinths and paths where the viewer feel lost in time and space.
After museum we walked along Bilbao River to the old city. The integration of modern buildings and bridges with old historical structures is done with remarkable taste and sensibility.
We stopped in the random pintxos bar and had a fabulous snack.
By the time we’ve got to the old town our tired feet begging for sit-down meal. An Italian restaurant attracted us by the pretty corner location and tables outside.
We didn’t expect much for a 13 euro three course menu in such lovely setting, but were too tired to look for anything else. The meal was huge and delicious.
To our complete amazement the price included a bottle of wine. We were stunned!
Bilbao was such a surprise, an undiscovered by crowds pearl of the city, the best of old Europe with modern art and creative cuisine.
Love from the first sight!