During the short drive from San Sebastian to Bilbao-only about 1 hour- we were hopeful and expectant to see the clouds being left behind us and a possibility for some sunshine. But, the first stop was the Corte Ingles to get a few dry items for the boys who were utterly soaked that morning while cleaning up the campsite. A pair of shoes and a cardigan later we headed to lunch still eyeing the sky nervously. Diego kept enthusiastically saying, "It's not going to rain, it doesn't smell like rain now" we laughed it off.
After lunch we headed towards our goal of the day, the Bilbao Guggenhiem. With the help of some locals we headed toward the river walk and saw the definitive grey metal in the distance. I have to admit that on first arrival driving into the city the place felt a little claustrofobic. Bilbao is an old mining town, so you drive in throught the old town and feel that the city was dug out of the high cliffs that hug the perimeter. Once you hit the river the city changes completely-open and bight with an incredible variety of modern architecture blending in perfectly with the old. The urban planning of the zone is fantastic.
From a bright white Calatrava bridge we arrived to the Guggeinheim's metallic curves that flow gently up, down, and around the structure like the water in the river beside it reflecting the natural light. We headed up and around to the front where we found an old friend crossing the street (it really is a small world), the cutest of cute sculpture- Puppy by Koons, and the sun!
Inside the Guggenhiem (take a virtual tour here!) the art takes second place to the architecture as you see the details of materials, lines, and layers that continuously offer a play on the light, movement, and structure-making the place feel alive. Function is not the purpose, it's simply art. We spent most of the day at the Guggenheim and the river walk-and I fell in love with Bilbao-a modern, creative, and sophisticated city that has rebuilt itself on the pride of its blue collar background and has managed to stay unpretentious. Can't wait to go back for longer than one day.