San Sebastian and Bilbao on north coast of Spain 7 & 8 October 2014

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October 8th 2014
Published: October 9th 2014
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San Sebastian on north coast of Spain 7 October 2014

Although we had visited San Sebastian last year, it was in the middle of the summer holidays and on a long weekend so the city was packed with people. We could not find a spot to park our motor home, nor could we even find a hotel to stay the night. Someone said we only had one choice, and that was to drive out of we did, promising ourselves that we would come back this we are back!!!!

Wow, it is a different town without so many people. As we drove back into town this year, we went straight to Monte Igueldo to catch a funicular up the top of the mountain. We had read that there was a spectacular view of the city from the top. And yes, there was a fantastic view. The area has a lot of playground equipment, swimming pool, various rides and a big slippery-slide, all great family entertainment. We found there weren't many people up there. There is also a tower right at the top, which we climber. As we walked up the top of the tower, we looked at a stack of historical photos of San Sebastian in years gone by. The Mecure Hotel is also up the top.

We then went back down the mountain on the funicular and drove closer to the Old Town and parked. We then walked along the beach and through the old town. Gosh it was different without the 1000s of people. It wasn't as interesting, but still a lovely town with plenty to do. The tapas bars were doing a roaring trade as usual.

We loved San Sebastian, however we needed to move into Bilbao which is further west by about 80 kms so at about 5.00pm, we headed out of town.

Bilbao on northern coast Spain 8 October 2014

We arrived in Bilbao at about 6.00pm and settled into our very central hotel. Bilbao is the capital of Vizcaya in the Basque Country with a population of about 350,000 people, but about 1 million people in the broader metropolitan area. The city is situated on the banks of the Nervión, a tidal river.

We headed straight out to get some dinner, quickly finding how central we were. There were many pedestrian malls, many of which were lined with sidewalk cafes. We saw down for a wine/beer which eventually morphed into have a meal. It was a tapas bar so Tom chose several tapas and late I chose several more. Eating tapas is a lovely chance to experience a new mix of flavours.

The evening was very balmy, with a little breeze...very pleasant.

The next morning, we packed up the car but left it in the hotel underground car park while we headed for the famous Guggenheim Museum. Last year, we only drove through Bilbao because this was 'worst' that San Sebastian...again, packed with people and very motor home unfriendly in these circumstances. With a smaller vehicle and no summer holiday crowds, we found moving around this big city, very easy.

After walking towards the river, it wasn't long before we saw the titanium structure of the Guggenheim Museum. It is one of the most amazing and stunning architectural buildings in the world. Frank Gehry's twisting titanium-clad modern art museum is perhaps the most celebrated building of the 1990s. The graceful, sensuous curves, evocative of the ships that used to be ubiquitous along the docks of Bilbao, are covered in titanium squares, which resemble the scales of a fish and shimmer in the sunlight. In keeping with the maritime theme, appropriate for the setting, the skylights of the largest gallery (formerly known as the Fish gallery) are designed to look like the fins of fish. The permanent collection of art is impressive, including large pieces of wooden and steel slabs, in wave and cylindrical shapes which fill much of the 1st level which is where the entrance atrium is positioned. There is also a large room with unusual sculptures. The museum always hosts at least one interesting temporary exhibit at a time. We took an audioguide with us as we walked around and through the building. Incredible! I hope the photos give you an idea of what I mean.

After a coffee and empanada in the museum restaurant, we walked back through the city old town, admiring our surrounds. The city has a lot of parks and central plazas, many of which have interesting statues and colourful flowers. It's quite an attractive city.

We were then heading further west to the seaside town of Santander.

Additional photos below
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