The Train Station

We walked to the train station to make a reservation for the train to our next stop, San Sebastián, another Basque city. When we got there, people told us the bus was faster and that we should skip the train as it was a local and stopped every five minutes. We did take their advice and had a very comfortable and very social bus ride. Visually, the train station was far more interesting than the bus station.

Seen from a bridge over the tracks, the exit from the train station was a chaotic mess of wires and tracks, reminiscent of scenes from Japan.

Bilbao

That evening we had a final walk through the city. It was easy to walk everywhere in Bilbao despite it being the third largest city in Spain.

Bilbao

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