One for Curvy Girls...

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End May 23, 2012

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Pension Garate

Flag of Spain  ,
Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'm very annoyed to be woken before dawn this morning by a phone call from the Department of Primary Industry in Victoria, especially when it fails to connect...

But it serves a useful purpose by making sure we make it onto the bus to Bilbao at 8.30am. After all, this trip is the main reason we have travelled across to San Sebastian.

With time to spare, we grab breakfast pastries, juice and coffee at the nearby bar. No nasty reconstituted OJ here. Even the bus station cafe supplies a 4-orange juice, prepared to order via the sort of sinew-y Tattslotto machine that is reserved for the gourmet juices at Prahran Market.

The one hour bus ride south takes us through the foothills of the Pyrenees... craggy, soaring peaks to our east. We pass a never-ending scene of low rise apartment blocks jostling with industrial estates and small farms. Every square inch of land is used here, including some parts so steep that no Australian farmer would ever tackle. Chook sheds open onto small orchards the size of house blocks on 60 slopes. Every house has an extensive vegetable garden just as we have come to expect from our Mediterranean immigrants in Australia. There seem to be community plots among the flats too.

And amid all this, modern freeways weave their ways around each other, over ravines and though tunnels. On the bus, we meet a number of Aussies doing an Intrepid Paris-Spain trip and feel very smug that we are managing to do the same without guidance - and have a better situated hotel!

At Bilbao, it's a straightforward transfer to an ultra-modern tram for the short ride round to the Guggenheim Museo, built in 1997. And what a site it is as it looms up above the trees!

Designed by Canadian-born architect Frank Gehry, it is a dazzling jumble of curves, clad in tiles of titanium metal which read as a range of silvers to watery brass depending on the light and angles.

The second material in the building's construction is sand-coloured limestone, blocks of which add solid planes to contrast against the twisting metal.
Soaring windows of glass (treated with micro-particles of metal to control the heat) completed the building.

It commands a complete circumnavigation to appreciate it's angles and views!

It has shallow pools that blend it with the river alongside and giant outdoor sculptures. And a hugely popular cafe where many people are enjoying a snack in the sun. Yes, Spain has turned on the perfect day for this excursion. Photos of metal against grey sky would have been so disappointing!

Inside, the complimentary audio guide outlines the building's concept and highlights, along with interviews and informative snippets at most art works. Sadly, we can only photograph the main foyer and not the individual galleries. And the space is so massive it is impossible to fit in a single frame, but hopefully my photos give an idea...

All of the works of art are also massive and modern, most are too conceptual for me but Liz is very appreciative. The photographic gallery strikes a chord with us both.

Bilbao was previously an unremarkable industrial town but has been revived by this gallery and the tourism it brings. There is evidence of new buildings that has adopted the curves of the museum, from sweeping stairs curling off footbridges to other bold public buildings.

There is also evidence of fierce support for the local soccer team with red and white striped flags hanging from numerous balconies!

Back in San Sebastian, we head straight for the old town in search of paella - this is a fishing port after all - as there is a fear that if we go home first, we may never muster the energy to go out again!
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Kim schmidt on

Great photos Jenny! I'm enjoying reading your.adventures

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