We arrived in Bilbao at 23:00 on Friday 4th September after our flight through Vueiling was cancelled and changed without us knowing until we went to check in. What a bunch of turds. The flight should have been at 18:40, but was pushed back to 20:00 and then we didn’t take off until 20:30. When we were in the air, the stewards did not do a very good job of serving us drinks as we didn’t get any drinks. Matthew was grumpy at this –
Once in Bilbao we got a taxi from the airport which took about 20 minutes to get to the centre where our hotel (Hotel Ercilla) was located, it cost about 25€. We arrived in the hotel, dropped off our stuff and immediately went out and got drunk at the nearest bar we could find. There was a great sense of ‘I don’t care who’s car this is, I will lean on it and rest my drink on it’s roof’ which was nice. Speaking fluent Spanish I ordered too many drinks because the barman was obviously not listening to me. One of these drinks was called Kalimotxo (pronounced ‘Calimocho’) which was a mix of equal parts cheap red wine and Coca Cola. It is much nicer than it sounds and got me suitably drunk. Then we went to a kebab shop but it was closed and we ended up with a Subway sandwich instead.
Our second day (only full day) in Bilbao involved a lot of walking and some busing. Our first point of call was a rock that Matthew got unnervingly excited about.
We then found the only reason Matthew wanted to come to Bilbao (he wasn’t aware of the rock until we passed it), the Guggenheim Museum. This is a freaking awesome building from the outside, it looks amazing from any angle and had quite a lot of ‘art’ outside, mostly by the artist Jeff Coons including this giant dog.
Entry to the museum is 15€ per adult and includes an audio guide in the price.
Matthew with the audio guides
Inside the museum you have 4 distinct sections. The first is a section dedicated to metal swirls that you walk through. I was underwhelmed by this as it was a bit like walking through a dangerous building site.
The second section was an audio and visual piece dedicated to birds and oil I think. Up stairs on the top floor you have an ‘artist’ who has pieces reminiscent of a child’s drawings, but with words like ‘Black Police, oh the irony’ written on them. I didn’t like this section because I don’t like ‘art’ that I could do.
Then onto the middle floor we have the Jeff Koons exhibition. This was OK, with some interesting pieces including this cat in a sock.
We then walked to the old town section of the city and had a walk around. There were a lot of shops, but very few of them were open, which we found strange for a Saturday. We decided it was time to eat and had what the locals call ‘tapas’ but it’s not like any tapas I have had and it was good. Walking through the old town we found a big square called Plaza Nueva 10 and had a look at the options at the various bars, restaurants and cafes. It turns out the offers were all pretty much the same which was basically tapas sandwiches.
We found a place called Bertok Berria which offered 6 tapas sandwiches and a bottle of red or white wine for only €15! What a bargain, you’d pay this just for the wine in London, and it would be a rubbish wine. This wine was very good and got us a bit too drunk for 2PM but in a good way. The only issue I had was t hat in the prawn thing, I had to remove the poo pipe.
Following lunch we wandered for a short while until we found a place to buy desert. We ended up with one of these things to share, unfortunately I was too intoxicated to remember what it was called but everywhere sold them.
They are basically an egg custard with a lot of meringue on top. I wasn’t aware of this otherwise I wouldn’t have purchased it as egg custards are gross.
Matthew liked it.
We then went on a bus tour with an open bottle of wine we bought from a corner shop for 5€.
The bus tour was quite good but took us to places we had already seen through walking earlier in the day so there wasn’t much point as you can walk around fairly easily in about 2 hours. We got the last one which took us around the town and finished outside the Guggenheim Museum at 18:00. This cost us 12€ each which is reasonable but you can walk around fairly easily as it isn’t a big city.
It was then off to the hotel for a siesta. 3 hours later, we left the hotel and got the metro back to the old town area with a plan to go for dinner. The metro is a great way to get around Bilbao as it’s cheap (1.50€ for a single) and air conditioned. We walked through the old town and like earlier there wasn’t a lot open. We found a reasonably priced restaurant and had an average meal. I had steak with a cheese sauce, it was a bit like a weatherspoons steak to be honest (slightly below average). Matthew had cod with garlic mouse which he very much enjoyed. We shared a starter of cubed potatoes with some tomatoes and mayonnaise on and a bottle of red rioja and it came to just over €30 which is pretty good value.
Then we realised that we couldn’t easily get to our next destination by train as we were travelling on a Sunday and there were no trains…so we went back to the hotel to plan.