I have to honestly tell you, I had no expectations coming into Bilbao. We simply decided to go here because it was the easiest city to fly out of in order to get to Lisbon. When we found out we needed to go through here we booked a night at a little hostel and thought maybe we should hit up the Guggenheim during our stay since we had a late afternoon flight.
When we arrived around sunset, the day we drove the coast, we checked into the hostel and decided to go find some dinner. We wandered the streets and very quickly began to fall in love with the city. Maybe it was the lack of research we did or maybe it was our lack of expectation for this city, but honestly we fell in love with it. The city mixes the beauty of an old European city with the modern design of a new city, then throw in a ridiculous amount of art. All over the city you can experience sculpture pieces by of famous artists like Richard Serra. The tram system runs over grass around the city and honestly it was one of the cleanest Spanish towns we visited, ok any European town. Initially I was a little sad to not spend more time here, but I think our 36 hours in Bilbao were just what we needed for a good tease.
The next morning we got up early and checked out of our hostel, packed our car, and headed to the Guggenheim. I was blown away by the sheer size of this building as well as the feeling of movement it conveys. It is quite a site, and one I don’t think you should miss if you are in Spain.
The combo of glass and steel were quite the contrast to the hilly farmland and classic European architecture that surrounded the building. It surprisingly does not feel out of place just simply the perfect reflection of what Europe is becoming and in particular how Spain itself is changing.
We paid the 13 euro entry fee and were ready to take in the pieces that can simply only be experienced in this museum, bring a student ID if you have one for the “estudiante” discount. There is a permanent collection, but the featured artists Richard Serra, Ernesto Neto, and Yoko Ono were who we came to see. I was incredibly excited about seeing the Ernesto Neto exhibit after falling in love with his work in Paris. Mike has followed Richard Serra since university but hadn’t seen any of his work in person. There are other very significant pieces here as well that are very experiential as well that I suggest you look up on their website especially if you plan to visit.
We began by wandering in and through the work of Richard Serra. His massive steel pieces are something that simply have to be walked through and experienced at every angle in order to really truly take in. Everything from the color of the steel to the way light and sound move through them is all extremely special. We very quickly discovered how amazing and his work truly is after having the ability to walk through each one.
The next was Ernesto Neto. I experienced one of his pieces back during our time in Paris at the Pompidou. Unfortunately, Mike wasn’t able to see it in Paris, so this was hisI was completely enamored with his work then and it did not change when we got to experience even larger and more significant pieces of his at the Guggenheim. I love seeing paintings, but I love art that you are a part of. Installation work has always been Mike and I’s favorite so maybe that is why Ernesto is one of our favorites. If you have not seen or experienced any of Ernesto’s work I really suggest making an effort to. He is all about the full experience when being in his art. You will experience touch, sound, and even smell. His pieces make you truly see life, your body, and culture in a whole new way. His pieces at the Guggenheim were truly special. This room below was the most amazing piece and I totally could have hung out in it all day.
We wandered the museum for nearly 3 hours before we had to head back to our car, drive to the airport, and catch our plane to head to Lisbon. Though we only had a short time in Bilbao I felt it was one of my favorite Spanish cities we saw. I hope one day to have more time with it, but for now I am at least glad for the little time we did get here.
Tomorrow, we are headed back to the states, but I still have quite a few gorgeous posts from Portugal to share with yall and as yall are asking I will also be sharing a final roundup of places to stay, eat, shop, and see in each city. We also will be sharing tips for planning your own trip as well. So more beautiful things to come as always.
Cheers my friend and happy Monday!