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Bilbao

Warning: You may be hungry after reading this blog...

sunny 14 °C

Bilbao

We (ie. Blake) originally decided to come to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim and a functioning transporter bridge and hopefully a city that wasn't packed full of tourists. However the best part of the city was by far the food! I'm sure everyone has heard of tapas in Spain, well up north in the Basque country they do Pinchos (or Pintxos) which are similar but usually come on a piece of bread.

We arrived on Sunday after a 5hour trip from Leon and were pretty worn out. We got a bottle of wine and had a vegetarian dinner that night consisting of fruit and wine (and the left over Jamon sandwich that Miguel packed for us). It was a great excuse to try out my (Blake) new bota which is a fancy wine flask made from goat skin and lined with pitch.

Day 1 & 2

Lucky us... We found a guide to Bilbao in our hotel room which gave us a good reason to head out and around town to see the sights first up. We walked through old town and Piazza Nuevo, down Grand Via, past the Guggenheim and back home. We were still pretty knackered after all the excitment of the last week so we had a big arvo nap and just chilled out watching tv shows for the rest of the evening after a brilliant dinner just around the corner.

Strolling through Gran Via..
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Our yummy dinner in Bilbao: pimentos (green peppers- like capsicum but with a bit of spice; prawn & mussels in filo; oxtail; beef cheeks; custard puff pastry with almonds & yummy berry ice cream
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Day trip to San Sebastian

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The next day we headed to San Sebastian which every man and his dog has told us its the best place in Spain. As far as we were concerned it was OK but we were only there for 5hours so I'd say we didn't give it enough of a chance. This place is like the Bali of Europe- where every corner you go, you can hear the Australian accents- and it is not even peak season! I guess it seemed like there are more Australians than there were after not having seen a single Aussie in Santiago de Compostela, Leon or Bilbao. Us Australians are nearly the easiest to pick out from the rest of the tourists- What a bunch of arrogant bogans, surfy blond hair and the strongest accent that everyone in Spain find it very hard to understand. I hope we don't stick out like these guys?? Mine you a white dude with blue eyes and a short asian girl surely can't stick out as typical Aussies eh?

The bus from Bilbao only took 1.5 hours (quicker than the train and half the cost). We got dropped off at the bus station which is a 30minutes walk into the town centre. Luckily the place is well signed with sign post directions to the tourist information centre. The weather here is slightly warmer than the weather we had in Leon & Santiago, which is a nice change.

We walked through the old town and up into the hill fortress nearby that had a massive Jesus (we think its Jesus) statue on the top looking down onto the city. On the way up we saw a few guys trying to climb some old artillery fortifications, not sure if they're loose from the funny farm or just hard up for a good place to rock climb...

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Massive Jesus looking statue on top of the castle on a hill:
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After taking in the beautiful view from the top we headed down and had a cheap 3 course 'daily menu' as they call it- which Michelle disliked so much she returned it to the restaurant (after she'd ate it if you get what I mean). We then headed to the beach and sat down to watch the surfers and the sunset for our last hour and a bit. We really enjoyed this part of San Sebastian and I bet it's a whole lot better in Summer (even though it was a toasty 16 °C).

Sitting by the beach.. watching people attempt to surf...
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We hopped back on the bus to Bilbao and got into some pinchos on the way home at a couple of bars in Piazza Nuevo. The pinchos in Bilbao are a lot more 'sophisticated' as the Spanish puts it- ie. a lot more fancy, not just tin food on a piece of bread. These pinchos are cheap but delicious with so much variety! A glass of wine, a small beer and 4 pinchos was about 10€. We were sold after this point and decided that we would eat nothing else in Bilbao besides fruit (mainly mandarins) and pinchos!

The awesome pinchos we had in Bilbao- not exactly free like in Leon, but still quite cheap- some were only Euro 1 and it still taste so YUM!! (Paulyn & Jade: here are some ideas for our future tapas bar!! :))
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Day 4 in Bilbao

Puente Colgante (Transporter bridge)
I (Blake) really wanted to see this bridge as the one in Wales was closed for winter :(. We took the metro out to the bridge, spent 35c each to take a ride across the river and headed back to town. Not as exciting as I expected but far better than sitting at home doing nothing.
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The Guggenham museum:

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I (Blake) decided to give the Guggenheim museum a chance and Michelle read in a guidebook that it wasn't worth paying the Euro11 to visit this museum so she took the opportunity to partake in some more retail therapy. I walked into the museum and got an audio guide to help me understand all of this ground breaking artwork. One of the commentary was on a 'piece of art' that was a 1m high ashtray with cigarette butts in it. Luckily I had my trusty audioguide there to tell me its meaning or I would have been lost. The audioguide went something like this (in the voice of the artist): "I noticed the beauty of art in everyday items like cigarette butts, the way that they are rigid and bend differently each time you butt one out. I began collecting ciggarette butts at partys so I could study them at home...". I managed to stifle my laugh with a cough and continued on to the next piece (which was a table and chairs made of cardboard found on the streets of New York I think). Anyway, brilliant museum, if your into that kind of thing. Unfortunately I'm not.. And Michelle was right.. the museum wasn't worth visiting :(.

We spent our last night in Bilbao filling our now rather big bellies with more yummy pinchos. We were well and truly satisfied.. finally some good tapas/pinchos that is worth paying for :).

xoxo B&M

Posted by blake-michelle 02.02.2013 08:16 Archived in Spain

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make notes on the tapas! remember, cafe paz is ready for you when you return! we have byo license!

03.02.2013 by paulyn

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