It’s the journey, we agreed! From San Sebastián, we chose to take the slow Euskotren rather than the express bus to Bilbao. The train has a scenic route but takes over 2 hours. We took the one hour bus back to San Sebastian instead, happy with our decisions.
The idea came from the kind lady from Pension Larrea. Amparo — in so many Spanish words we couldn’t comprehend — articulated how a 2.5 hour train ride is way better than an hour spent on a bus to Bilbao. We took her word for it, even if the taxi driver who drove us to the Euskotren Stn discouraged us.
The journey took us around mountains, farmlands and shorelines. Aren’t we glad we chose to go SLOW! We passed some towns where locals rode trains with beach umbrellas, folding chairs and picnic baskets on their way to Deba, some 30 kms from San Sebastián. This is everyday life in Pais Vasco! We were tempted to get off and maybe just people-watch as sunbathers and surfers claim their space in the sand.
Alas, we got off in Bilbao. Almost anti-climactic. From the slow train, we took the tranvia to Guggenheim Museum. (We’ve really become experts in public transpo, si?) The sun threatened to bore a hole through our skulls so we decided to take our lunch on the first and only cafe bar we found next to the Museum. Nothing fancy, but the cafe-bar looks out to the magnificent architecture of the Museo. One wonders what was going through the brilliant mind of Canadian-American Architect Frank Gehry when he designed this structure of stone, glass and titanium. Hailed as a 20th century architectural masterpiece, it is truly bold, daring and innovative.
The Atrium is referred to as “The Flower” — aptly so, as one meanders through the “petals” to get to the exhibit rooms. At the time we visited, there were a lot of renovations going on so we were restricted to exhibits of Nikki de St Phalle’s art. No photography was allowed but one of my friends was ever the non-conformist. (Photo credits to E. )
Niki’s “Nanas” somehow reminded me of Botero’s penchant for fat women. Very colorful too. But I confess I’m not a fan. Some of her artworks are beyond my comprehension 😓 But Gehry’s bold lines I do admire. Entonces, I would have been happier viewing the Museum outside. The Spider. The Titanium Balloons? The Dancing Nanas (by Niki).
But don’t take my word for it. Different strokes for different folks. And I’m certainly no expert in the art department. I did spend a few minutes to enjoy the spider structure outside the Museo edifice. And of course, there are other Bilbao attractions too. If only we had more time!