Our 48 hours in Bilbao didn’t get off to a great start. We flew in to the city on the evening of T’s birthday. We were looking forward to checking in at the funky Hesperia Hotel and having a few celebratory drinks. Unfortunately for us, our trip coincided with a Spanish National Holiday and everything was closed! In fact, we arrived just in time for the only supermarket in the city which was still open to pull down its shutters! Consequently, we trawled the streets in the hope of finding a bar or cafe that was open However, we were forced to concede and return to our hotel – hungry and a little sad that we weren’t able to have a birthday toast.
The Hesperia was a great choice of accomodation. Not only was it located on the river front, but our room was sleek and stylish – perfect for a birthday treat. Additionally, it was easy to locate thanks to its striking exterior which featured colourful windows.
Exploring the City
The next day we wandered along the river to Casco Viejo, the old town, where a couple of shops had opened. We bought some chocolate croissants for breakfast and sat down by the river to eat them.
After breakfast, we took the funicular up Artxanda Hill from where there was a lovely view of the city. Although, it was only March, the weather was warm and sunny. We took a look round a small park on the hill where we discovered a couple of sculptures, before hiking down to the river. Due to it being an official holiday weekend, the promenade next to the river was busy. Families strolled along eating ice cream and enjoying the sunshine.
Of course, our main purpose for going to Bilbao was to visit the architectural wonder of the Guggenheim Museum – the city’s most famous attraction. As expected, Frank Gehry’s creation was certainly a spectacular sight – situated on the river with Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider next to it. Additionally, near the entrance was a massive exhibit of a giant puppy made of flowers. On Sunday morning, we arrived early to purchase our tickets. Inside, there was an exhibition by Japanese pop artist, Takashi Murakami. Indeed, we were lucky that we happened to visit while this particular exhibition was on – we both loved it. Murakami’s work is super-colourful and fun. T did, however, get told off by one of the officials when she touched one of the exhibits!
To be honest, if it hadn’t been for the draw of the Guggenheim, we wouldn’t ever have thought of visiting Bilbao. It transpired that the city was a pleasant and interesting place to stay for a couple of days. There was some attractive architecture, a scenic river, some lovely green spaces and of course, a fantastic art museum. Despite the unfortunate beginning, we thoroughly enjoyed our 48 hours in Bilbao!