The Funicular

I have to admit that although I knew the word funicular, I had no idea what it was until I got to Bilbao. And oddly enough, I was only a few days away from seeing my second funicular. Here is the definition: “a cable railroad, especially one on a mountainside, in which ascending and descending cars are counterbalanced.” In Bilbao, the funicular is an almost vertical train with small attached “cars” that uses a cable to go up and down the mountain. Lots of visitors and tourists on it, but it’s also used by the locals to get to and from the part of town up top.

Bilbao

The Bilbao funicular starts in a tunnel where the riders wait for it to arrive, either up or down the hill. Everyone pays a normal subway fare, it’s not like the cable cars in San Francisco with their jacked-up rate. The tunnel has steps as the funicular is designed to follow the slope, with each car above the one before it. The steps are required to get into the cars.

Bilbao

All the internet sources say to ride the funicular on a sunny day so that the view of the city is clear. We went on a foggy, sometimes rainy day, and the hill the funicular climbs was dripping wet. At the top, the city was almost impossible to see, but the park was dream-like, with trees fading into the fog. The spectacular vista was missing but the atmosphere at the top was perfect. I would recommend a wet day unless you really want that city view.

Bilbao

 

On To Spain and The Guggenheim

Usually our travels take us to one country at a time, but a visit to Spain was tacked onto the trip to Portugal. Two previous trips to Spain had taken us to several areas, but we had never been to Basque country or to Catalonia. We flew from Porto to Bilbao as the train ride would have required spending a night in Madrid with very little time to do anything while there. Like practically every city and town we visited on the trip, Bilbao is located by the water. Our apartment was only a couple hundred meters from the river.

Bilbao

What made the visit to Bilbao so special was the Guggenheim Museum, the most impressive museum either of has ever visited. From the spectacular exterior to the spectacular interior to the stunning exhibits, the Guggenheim can best be described as amazing. Or awesome, take your pick. Our apartment was also only a couple hundred meters from the Guggenheim.

Bilbao

There were parts of the museum that weren’t exhibits per se (and no photos allowed of the artworks) but were participatory, places to insert oneself into the art world. Here’s Tanya.

Bilbao

The Guggenheim is adjacent to a beautiful pedestrian bridge that we walked over several times. There are other pedestrian bridges over the river in Bilbao, making for pleasurable walks as the city has things to see and do on both sides.

Bilbao

Of course there is street art here in Bilbao also.

Bilbao

A Place To Live

We spent about two weeks in Portugal, not a long time, but we’ve visited before. We went to see if the spark was still there and it was. Portugal has people, art, history, culture, and food. Portugal is completely missing an active and diverse music scene, and that’s disappointing. And we lucked out on the weather, with no rain, which we know isn’t the way it’s going to be. But everything else was compelling and we will live here someday, soon.

Portugal has amazing art, in museums and on the street.

Faro

Portugal has beautiful buildings dating back many hundreds of years.

Lisbon

Portugal has terrific open spaces for people to work, chat, and eat.

Porto

And Portugal has Boom Balls, which I never got to try.

Boom Balls