Bilbao, 2011

I had told B that the bus ride to Bilbao was 50 minutes, but until we actually boarded, she thought it was 15 minutes. From the bus station - dubbed 'Termibus' - we took the Metro to Abando station (easily misread by English speakers as 'Abandon'), which was a short walk to our hostel.

The man sitting at reception was helpful enough, although he didn't make much of an effort to engage us in conversation. He was keen to get back to the book he was reading.

We went out to the main square in the old town, eager for some pintxos. Nothing quite matched up to all the great food we had in San Sebastian. At nearly every bar, the television was on. There were two major football matches that day, with Barcelona playing in one and Madrid in the other.

We found a place with no television and had some decent gambas - both plancha (grilled) and ajillo (cooked in oil and garlic) - there. The radio was on with a commentary of the match. The loudness of the commentator's voice and of the crowd in the background told us all we needed to know about what was going on. Everyone here was happy that Barcelona lost and Madrid won.

Two museums

In the morning, we headed straight to the Guggenheim Museum. The architecture was fascinating. The sculptures around it were a bit of a gimmick. We had a nice lunch at the Guggenheim restaurant. While the exhibits were interesting, there wasn't a great deal to see.

In comparison, the Bellas Artes (fine arts) Museum had a better selection, including the more traditional paintings as well as contemporary works by Spanish artists. Some of the sculptures we had seen along the coast of San Sebastian were on display, in miniature, at the Bellas Artes Museum, for example 'Empty Construction' by Jorge Oteiza. Just looking at those evoked the memories, already beginning to fade, of our walks by the seaside.

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