Mar 19 Bilbao and San Sebastian

We went to Bilbao in order to visit the Guggenheim Museum and on the day we visited we were lucky to have beautiful sunny weather.  It is important to have the brightness as it is the reflections that really make the most of this extraordinary building.  It was completed in 1997 and still looks fresh and new.  The internal structure is as important as the external for impact value.  We were underwhelmed by the exhibitions inside but thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Sitting outside with a cooling beer in the 21° sun was a fitting end to our visit.

Curvaceous beauty
So many curves reflecting in the moat
Silver ball tree
Looking back towards the bridge reflecting in the museum walls
View across the river from the Guggenheim
Central architecture
Inside looking up

Outside the museum is a wonderful bridge which adds another colour to the reflections and the whole thing is then reflected in a modern building across the street. A large spider sculpture alongside the river is a contrast to the smooth curves of the museum and there is a bunch of large coloured lollipops to give another dimension.

Striking bridge
Looking back towards the bridge reflecting in the museum walls
Large spider sculpture is very eyecatching
Spider with impact
Guggenheim and bridge reflected in modern building across the road
Colourful piece of art outside the museum

When the museum was inaugurated a statue of a puppy was part of the decoration and was intended as a temporary feature.  However, the Bilbainos clamoured for it to be kept and it is now a permanent fixture. The statue is covered with growing flowers and manages to have tremendous expression. We were very impressed with the design and the well maintained flowers.


The other building that we appreciated was the 1930s Mercado de la Ribera.  The curved stairways and stained glass were amazing, and it has obviously had a facelift as it was clean and bright and modern.  There were a large number of fish, meat and veg stalls selling their wares in the morning.  On the ground floor there were three restaurants that were still open when the market was closed.

Front view of the 1930s Mercado
Unusually fabulous glass in this 1930s building
1920s buildings enhanced by the beautiful glass windows in the Mercado
Art deco staircase in Mercado

The old town here is a good place to wander around with plenty going on.  There were some lovely old buildings such as the cathedral and the theatre but we just appreciated them from the outside and saved ourselves for the main event.

Glorious theatre
Example of artwork decorating the archways

The camperstop we stayed on for 2 nights is located on a hill overlooking the city.  The view from the van was quite the most stunning we have had with the city lights spread out in a panorama below.  It was even more exciting when the wild winds started blowing on our second night and rocked the van from side to side!

Evening view of Bilbao from our eyrie on the aire
Daytime view over the city

San Sebastian

After Bilbao, we were looking forward to a town with a difference and we were not disappointed.  San Sebastian is an elegant seaside resort with a lovely old town, beautiful squares and buildings, and a charming promenade that follows the curve of the bay.  There is a long and deep sandy beach leading to the rolling waves, which was in use by swimmers and surfers when we were there but must be a magnet for families in the warmer weather.  On the promenade there is a formal garden with a grand old carousel dating from 1900.  It is beautifully decorated with copies of old Masters which is quite unusual.

Grand Victorian lampposts on the promenade
View from the prom
Expansive beach
Beautiful sheltered harbour and bay
Sweep of the bay with statue in the distance
Ornate 1900 carousel
Statue dominating the town and harbour
Other side of the hill
Town bridge


This is a place to drift around, shop in the elegant shops, and sip coffee or wine in the squares.  A very lovely end to our time in Spain. 

Beautiful mouldings
Interesting sculpture on this old building!
More sculpture detail
Most impressive front entrance
Elegant side street with fabulous church at the end
Good example of the elegant Georgian buildings
Park in front of Civil building
Lots of these ornate doorways in San Sebastian
Art Nouveau Band stand

Once again we had been lucky with the weather, as it had been wet and blowy the day before our visit and was very wild and stormy overnight and into the next day following our visit.  Thus we headed on into France and the long trek up to Dieppe.