Bilbao, as a whole, is such an architectural marvel, and yet I spent 90 percent of my time there bed-ridden with a terrible case of the Spanish flu (which is so much worse than the American flu, lest you be curious). At least I was there for work and, thus, staying in five-star hotels the whole time, and hey if you have to be on your death bed, might as well do so in style, am I right? Plus, I had quite the interesting view from my hotel room:
That’s the Guggenheim Bilbao, of course, and even though I wasn’t well enough to venture inside it until my sixth day in town, I could still appreciate the aesthetic from afar.
It was the spring of 2006, I had been in Spain for five weeks working on my first guidebook for Frommer’s, and Bilbao was my final stop. SVV, fresh off an oil research trip to Azerbaijan, met me there, and I recovered in just enough time to spend two sunny days in the city with him before we hopped a train to Portugal for two weeks. Good thing, too, as I got to see him eat a snail. Yes, a LIVE one. Some local news station stopped us
stupid unsuspecting tourists and asked if we’d participate in an on-camera challenge. I manned up…and volunteered SVV for the challenge. He accepted (an attempt to impress me, no doubt).
Because my debilitating flu had kept me from seeing much of the city and because SVV was only there but two days, we had a lot of ground to cover in 36 hours. Bilbao is a lot of things: Compact and easy to get around it is not.
That night, though, we got to go to the top of the Parliament building for the six-course degustation menu on Newsweek’s dime. That’s before I was doing so much restaurant reviewing, and such a meal was a true novelty. Afterward, we took a walk on the famed harp-like Campo Volantin Footbridge, draped over the Nervión River.
And then we turned around and walked its length again, snapping blurry pictures of the patterns as we strolled.
Bilbao was not the prettiest Spanish city I visited, not by a long shot. In fact, I’d say it was my least favorite of all. (That’s not to say I didn’t like it, just that Spain is fantastic and there are so many other places I liked much more.) But the riverside all lit up at night—I’d say it held its own.
*The past month’s worth of Photo Fridays embarrassingly have been taken with low-quality point-and-shoots SVV and I used while living in Europe, as I was too lazy to tote my SLR around the continent in 2005 and 2006. (For shame.) So excuse the image quality, if you please. I would never endorse either Olympus or Nikon models we used—especially these days—but if you’re in the market for a P&S, I’d recommend the Canon G11 for a more advanced pocket camera or a Canon Powershot 780 for a more basic and compact model.