I’m feeling fairly underwhelmed to be back in Logroño after a lovely weekend in Bilbao (pronounced Bilb-ow, not ay-oh, as I only recently found out!). On the plus side, I can console myself with Yorkshire tea and Galaxy chocolate courtesy of a very thoughtful boyfriend!
The weekend could have got off to a bad start as I found myself still in a bar drinking vino tinto in the early hours of Friday morning. I’d wanted to get an early night but some of the teachers were planning to go out for a drink and invited me along. As I don’t know anyone very well yet I was so pleased to be invited. I was made to feel really welcome and part of their group, but “just a quiet drink” developed into a full blown bar crawl and although I had lots of fun, after the 3rd or so drink I was really struggling to concentrate on anything being said. When I realised I was just repeating parts of peoples sentences back to them (“I went to Barcelona last weekend.” “You went to Barcelona!?”) I cried early morning journey and left with the party still going strong – there will have been some bleary eyes in the staff room that morning!
Like when I went home, I travelled to Bilbao by bus. It wasn’t a new experience for me, but it still feels strange using the bus to travel between cities because at home I always go by train. In Spain it is quite unusual to travel by train except for very long journeys; it’s very expensive and in many cases takes longer because the rail connections aren’t very developed.
So I was hoping to catch a couple of extra hours kip on the bus, but it wasn’t to be. I seem to have one of those faces that says “Hello, crazy people, come and sit with me!” In this instance, the lady next to me took out some sheet music and started humming excerpts… badly.
My boyfriend brought the lovely British weather with him, but we had a great – if a little soggy – weekend exploring Bilbao. I think Bilbao is really beautiful and contemporary. There are some amazing old buildings tucked in between some equally beautiful new ones, and everywhere you go there is something going on, from artificial mist being released down the street to canoeists in the river to “light-saber trees” by the side of a pavement (if they’re not called that, they should be!).
There’s a lot to do in Bilbao if you like art. Neither of us are particularly arty but not averse to it either, so quite happily we headed off to a couple of galleries. The Guggenheim is Bilbao’s most famous gallery and many people associate the building of it with the beginning of the urban regeneration of the city. Apparently before that it wasn’t much of a tourist destination, to put it nicely! Unfortunately, we found the building the most impressive piece of art! There were a few other exhibitions we enjoyed; an enormous maze-type room you could get lost in and then view from above, an enormous flowering dog and a terrifyingly large spider, but most of the other exhibits made us giggle (much to the guides’ and security’s disgust!).
Maybe I’m to small-minded and cynical to understand modern art, but when I looked at a knotted rag suspended from the ceiling, I saw just that; I did not see a “pensive conflict of mind and surrounding with the continuity of time” (not a quote, but some such nonsensical rubbish!). Not satisfied with annoying everyone by giggling, we annoyed everyone further by adding our own waffle to the audio guide’s!
I much prefered the museo de bellas artes (fine art museum). The building was much less impressive, but the art inside much more so. There was an exhibition of Regoyos’ work. I hadn’t heard of him before (already admitted I’m not an art-buff!) but I did recognise some of it. His work was really varied and interesting, although his work with pointillism gave me flashbacks to working hour after boring hour with an earbud in art classes at school.
We also visited the Alhondiga, which is a converted wine warehouse. It’s a really beautiful building, and so as not to ruin the original they’ve built a sort of box inside which is raised from the floor and away from the original walls. It has a gym, cinema, museum, (you’ve guessed it – ) gallery, and an elusive glass-floored swimming pool we wanted to find for a dip but couldn’t!
I was sad to leave Bilbao and have been feeling quite lonely since. I’ve been looking forward to the visit for ages, and I’m worried about how I’ll feel after my other visit from my parents next weekend. Christmas feels a long time away at the minute!