Bilbao | Not Visiting A Meatball…

My time in the coastal town of Bermeo had been great, despite the endless rain! Waking up to another wet start, I packed the last of my stuff, had a look around the festival market stalls in the town square before meeting my friends for another day of exploring. This time, we’d be heading to Bilbao. 

The original plan had been to watch my friend’s girlfriend in a dance tournament, but it had been cancelled because of the weather. Instead, we opted for a day in the nearby city of Bilbao where I’d be staying for the night before heading to Barcelona. Less than an hours drive through pretty hillside roads, looking out over valleys lined with woods, the journey passed really quickly. Before I knew it we were at the viewing platform in Artxanda, soaking up the sights of the city sprawling below us. Although I’d been here on my previous visit to Bilbao, I got so much more information about the city and local knowledge this time that I loved it just as much. 

We jumped back in the car as the rain began to threaten, and made our way into the city centre to have a look around and get some lunch. A quick walk around the city, we passed the stadium, university and TV studios, and did a spot of window shopping before scouting out a place for a bite to eat and a drink. 

Although there weren’t many people milling about, they all slowly disappeared and the cafe told us they were closing. It was still early afternoon, and although confused where all the people in the town had gone, we continued on to explore the Alhondinga, not to be confused with albondinga (meatball) as I did. There was a moment of slight confusion as I thought my friends were taking me to a meatball place after we’d just eaten, but it quickly became clear I’d got my words mixed up. 

A cool exhibition space with a pool, shops and a cinema, we were greeted with a view of the rooftop pool above us, and could see people swimming through the glass bottom of the pool. The ground floor has funky columns supporting the upper floors, and we checked them out as we made our way downstairs to an exhibition. 

Probably worthy of the label ‘art exhibition’, it was very interpretative and thought provoking. Equal parts weird and interesting, I’ll admit that I really didn’t get some of the pieces but enjoyed it nonetheless. 

Once we’d finished there, it was time to part ways with my friends. They dropped me at the hostel I’d be spending the night at, and I was genuinely sad to leave them. I’d had the best weekend being shown around, getting off the tourist trail, being able to practice my Spanish and just spending time with some of the nicest people I know. 

After picking up some food from the supermarket for dinner, I called home to catch up with my parents and get a bit of a pick me up. Deciding an early night was on the cards, I focussed on the fun I’d be having tomorrow and turned in to watch a bit of Netflix in bed. 

Waking up, I was still feeling a bit off and wondered whether I would be happier heading home rather than continue travelling alone. I decided to give myself a few days to decide, and as I was leaving for Barcelona in the afternoon thought a change of scenery would help. 

I’d booked the extra night in Bilbao and an afternoon train to Barcelona so that I could spend the morning doing what I hadn’t been able to on my previous visit to Bilbao – go to The Guggenheim. After packing up and leaving my backpack with the front desk of the hostel, I walked down to the museum and found that it was shut. I had to laugh – why hadn’t I thought to check it’d be open before I booked to stay in Bilbao? 

Another life lesson that not everywhere works the same as at home, and that if I’m visiting somewhere for a specific reason to make sure that it’ll be available! I sat in a nearby cafe and just relaxed with a coffee as the sunshine finally made an appearance, before enjoying a walk alongside the river. 

Going in what I thought was the direction of the alhondiga, I realised a bit too late that I had been walking the wrong way and tried to appreciate the unexpected bonus of seeing more of the city. Eventually going the right way, I had another look around the alhondiga and found that it’s really relaxing watching the people swimming around in the pool above. 

Before I knew it, it was time to grab my bag and head through the shopping district to the train station. I had some snacks leftover from yesterday, but planned to pick up some food for the 7-hour journey from the supermarket in the station. After buying a postcard and printing my ticket, the queue in the supermarket was too long and I didn’t want to risk missing my train, so decided I’d just have to live off a couple of cereal bars and a bag of crisps for the journey. On the plus side, I had a first class seat, no neigbhours and I was in for a really relaxing journey through the Spanish countryside to Barcelona.

< Bermeo | #17 | Barcelona >

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