I’ve been trying to find the time and presence to write a blog that adequately captures my four days in Spain, but it seems to have resulted in not writing anything at all. From Paris I flew to Bilbao, the capital of the Basque country in north-western Spain. Our evening flight took us over the Pyrenees at sunset, their verdant glory bathed in golden light. Tiny villages are nestled in the valleys, with winding roads connect them, looking like sheep tracks from the air.
It was still light when I arrived in the city centre. In keeping with the beauty of the city, which I would discover over the next two days, the centre is not a square, but a circle, and planted with a carpet of vibrantly coloured flowers.
(To do justice to the beauty of Bilbao, I’m must put in lots of photos. If you want to see more detail, double click or right click the photo and open it full size. Keep scrolling, because my favourite photo is at the bottom.)
That’s the original Hotel Carlton in the background, built between 1919 and 1926, and the first hotel in Spain to have ensuite bathrooms (read more of it’s history here). I splurged on two night’s accommodation here and it was absolutely lovely, from the receptionist who tolerated my abysmal Spanish, to the porter who carried my backpack and ukulele with the same style as if it were Louis Vuitton, the crisp white linen, elegant furniture in the room, the grand staircase (I couldn’t bring myself to take the lift), stained glass dome in the hall and chandeliers sprinkled about. I could live here quite happily.
I wandered the city all day and into the evening, eating Pintxos – the Basque equivalent of tapas – drinking thick hot chocolate and taking in the beauty. I was struck by the architecture, with all it’s colour and decoration, and the way of life. It’s a stylish, yet relaxed city that I have fallen completely in love with.
Most of the buildings are just apartment and office buildings, like the first green one here. The next one is the Town Hall, with gryphons sitting on the light posts.
The colours are wonderful, especially with the vibrant green of the hills surrounding the city, which sits in the valley by the river.
So many of the buildings have decorative crowns, mosaic façades, and figures on the corners. The photo below is taken from the Guggenheim Museum, looking over the river and west to the mountains. The Guggenheim exhibits were not entirely my cup of tea, but it was definitely interesting, and the fact that I’m still pondering what I saw tells me it was a worthwhile visit.
This one below is the front of the Bilbao opera house, built in 1901, and an incredible example of Belle Epoque architecture. The detail is quite extraordinary.