|(I tried to load photos, but no luck; will post ASAP).
Llegué sin incidente a Bilbao el viernes, 17 de mayo, a las 4 de la tarde.
My trip across the pond was uneventful but sleepless. A few hours waiting at Madrid airport for the bus to Bilbao, then a restful ride of 4.5 hours in the rain and cold to Bilbao. Metro to within blocks of pensión where I was staying, but the hood on my poncho wouldn´t stay on so I arrived a bit bedraggled.
Settled in quickly and then off to get a phone and some supper. Enjoyed pintxos (that is Basque for tapas) at one of the millon pintxos bars in the neighborhood. Walked around a bit as the rain had let up and checked out the Casco Viejo, the original section of the city, where I was staying.
Next day, the Guggenheim Museum. Walked along the river on another rainy, cool morning to see this fantastic architectural work, and some art, too. ¨Wow¨ is really the only response to this building....AMAZING! Then onto the nearby Museo de Bellas Artes, also showing modern art. Walk back across central business and commercial district to regroup and find dinner.
Bought a rain hat! Enjoyed a delicious meal of grilled peppers, a salad with goat cheese medallions encrusted with almonds and oxtail stewed in Rioja wine. ¡Excelente!
On Sunday, I took all my stuff (despite all my efforts to reduce, my pack weighed about 23 pounds when I left Dallas) and caught the train to Gernika. This is the town made famous by Picasso in his painting of the same name (Guernica). The city was bombed by the Germans in April 1937 at the behest of Franco. This was during the Spanish Civil War and the Basques (Euskadi) were mostly in opposition to the fascist Franco. So, he had his buddies destroy this town which had been the site of Euskadi government for several hundred years. They rebuilt, but continued to suffer under the regime until after Franco´s death in 1975. I visited a museum dedicated to peace there and then, after a walkabout through town, caught another train.
These trains are commuter trains which stop every few minutes, so it takes a while to get anywhere. Plus, I had to change trains in order to get to San Sebastian, so that added about 50 minutes. Thanks to a kind Spanish lady, I learned the trick to accessing the outside bathroom when one is inside the turnstiles of the station and for where the train´s WC is as well. Small blessings mean so much on a trip like this!