Bilbao, Spain

Estuary of Bilbao

Estuary of Bilbao

Hola mi amigos!  Mike and I are back from our trip to Spain.  Although we saw a lot in ten days, it still was not quite enough time to experience Spain.  Our first three days were spent in Bilbao,Spain.  Bilbao, the 10th largest city in Spain, is situated in the northern region of Spain, near the south-west border of France.  It is a beautiful city which lies between the Cantabrian and Pyrenees Mountains and its northern edge is surrounded by the Bay of Biscay.  There is a river that branches off the bay that runs through the city.  The slow flowing river is perfect for kayaking and paddleboarding.  

Zubizuri (White bridge) in Bilbao, Spain

Zubizuri (White bridge) in Bilbao, Spain

Since 1997, the main attraction in Bilbao is the Guggenheim Museum, which houses contemporary and modern art.  The building was designed by Frank Gehry and was hailed as one of the world's most spectacular buildings.  The museum reminds some of a large ship, others see fish scales in its metallic exterior; both seem fitting due to the proximity to the river's edge.   

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Puppy by Jeff Koons

Puppy by Jeff Koons

At the main entrance to the museum, is a permanent installation from the artist Jeff Koons called "Puppy".   This 40 foot puppy is crafted entirely of flowers and was the artist's intention to evoke optimism, confidence, and security.  It definitely brought a smile to my face when I saw it.  

Unbeknown to us, by arriving in Bilbao during the 3rd week of August, we experienced the Semana Grande {Big Week} in which the city was celebrating the 28th annual Aste Nagusia festival.  About 100,000 visitors will celebrate this 9 day cultural heritage party.  They have parades, outdoor concerts, vendors, food stands {Mike was eyeing up the extra large paella pans about 36 inches round}, and nightly fireworks.  Everywhere we looked there were dolls that looked like an old lady dressed in traditional garb with a scarf tied around her head. We came to find out that this doll, named Marijaia, symbolizes optimism and has her hands raised as if she is dancing.  It is also personifies Mary, the mother of Jesus, as they celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady.   

Waiting for the firework display during Aste Nagusia festival

Waiting for the firework display during Aste Nagusia festival

Bilbao is an easy city to navigate on foot.  By strolling through the city, we saw an amazing array of architecture; from gothic to modern and Spanish to French.  We randomly selected a hotel from Trip Advisor reviews, and it turned out to be a gem.  The Barcelo Bilbao Nervion hotel is conveniently located on the riverfront and is an easy walk to the Guggenheim, the center of Old Town, restaurants, and the funicular.  We rode the funicular up the mountain to obtain a great view of the city (2 pictures below).  

Mike and I really enjoyed our three day stay in Bilbao.  I would recommend visiting and even booking the 3rd week of August to partake in Semana Grande!  Here's to good food and gladness!