Chapter Seven - Vitoria-Gasteiz and Bilbao

Trip Start Jun 18, 2013
Trip End Aug 20, 2013

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AIRBNB Apartment

Flag of Spain  , Basque,
Friday, August 9, 2013

Bryan is coming from Madrid to spend a few days with us. He wants to visit Bilbao, somewhere he has never been. We had visited it three years ago on our trip through the Pyrenees, but it was a very brief stop to see the Guggenheim Museum.

He's coming on the train to Vitoria, so we have plenty of time to take the country route from Labastida, which affords us spectacular views over the Rioja region as we cross the Cantabrian Mountains. Parking is a hassle as usual. There are no spaces on the street, so it's the expensive underground parking lot once more. As we ascend to the street, a gentleman points out that parking above ground in the summer is doubly difficult as the city does not monitor the parking meters in August, in other words…free street parking. I presume all the meter maids go on holiday during this period.

The train arrives right on time and we take a short spin around Vitoria prior to taking the highway to Bilbao. Vitoria is another charming medieval city, somewhat unusual in that the old section is built on a promontory, with the modern city completely surrounding it. One unusual feature is the installation of moving walkways in the medieval centre. Good idea, or not?

We have arrived at the tail end of the annual Fiesta de la Virgen Blanca, and the town is crowded with celebrants. It’s always nice to see people out in the streets having a good time and we are sorry we don’t have more time to join in, but we have to get to Bilbao, which is another hour and a half through more mountains.

Our first stop in Bilbao is the unique Guggenheim Museum, designed by renowned American architect Frank Gehry. Considered as one of the most important contemporary structures in the world, the Basque Government and the City of Bilbao paid out millions to subsidize the construction. Many people were highly critical of the expense, but it has paid back the area well, as Bilbao, at that time a decaying port city, is now on the world tourism map, the city is revitalized and locals have a world class building to be proud of.  

We take advantage of the free street parking and, not being great fans of contemporary art and unwilling to splurge on the €13 admission fee, decide to wander around the modern and historic centre admiring how active and attractive this metropolitan area has become. We even take the funicular up the mountainside to Artxanda Park for a panoramic view of the whole city before we wend our way back to Labastida, our cozy flat and a delicious dinner prepared by Miryam.

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derrick241 on

Sounds like a good way to spend a day, I used to like just wandering about towns and citys on my trip, always seemed to find someone who would talk about their city or town (especially if you had a camera and were snapping away

I saw lots of murals on walls, made me wonder sometimes who would take time out to paint them and not even put a name to them, some were REALLY good and it beats having graffitti on walls

mmbcross on

It really seems that these murals are created by anonymous artists. I'll have to look more closely at the bottom left corner next time.

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