Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lay days in Bilbao

The only place we ate in Bilbao
Robin and I have simply been loafing here in Bilbao. We took in the sights that came our way and passed on some others. But, it has been a fun, restful break. We are staying at a hotel not far from the Guggenheim Museum, and walked over there after dinner last night. It is a breathtaking architectural achievement. What is also stunning is how the surrounding riverside esplanades, bridges and plazas have been modernized as well. Great design leaps out at you from every square inch of space. The place just makes you feel good. One interesting note is that they freed up so much space for pedestrian use. Nothing feels cramped. In fact the wide pedestrian areas offer a sense of drama as design elements and creative lighting come together to draw people to the river. It is all about openness, and in a city, that is not always something easy to find. The strikingly beautiful (and curvaceous) Calatrava pedestrian bridge, that took us across to the museum, is a work of art. We had a hard time getting off it. We just wanted to linger and enjoy the compelling flow of steel, cable, and accent lighting in the still late evening air. Bilbao is definitely a blend of old and new, that works quite well. I couldn't help but think back to a bridge design issue back home, the new (proposed) Columbia River bridge between Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. The design that was selected was so unremarkable as to make you wonder where over 100 million USD, in pre-construction money, went. Bad design, as well as good design, for major infrastructure projects is with you forever. I firmly believe you have to find a way to afford good design. The impact on those who live with these projects is profound both for better or for worse. Bilbao definitely saw the value in good design, and everyone, citizens and visitors alike are better for it. Come for a visit, and see for yourself.
The Calatrava Pedestrian Bridge
Accent light on highway bridge
A little sleep goes a long way
The Guggenheim
These lights are programmable
Looking back the other way
Still the Guggenheim
Private dinner
Along the river
Main plaza
What's for lunch
Streets in old town
St. James from the cathedral
Cross of St. James from cathedral
Stain glass on cathedralcolumn

Cathedral cloister
St. James Cathedral
Not sure what this was, but entertaining
Back in the plaza
Lots of beer drinkers
Seeking shade on our way back to the hotel


  1. It looks amazing. You already have me making plans to get there somehow or other next time I am in Europe!

    1. Margaret, you will love it. Back to the Camino in the morning. More later as wifi allows.

      John and Robin

  2. Beautiful photos, architecture and sights! I love the bridge. And it is great to see you have fun too.