Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I loved Bilbao. I have heard many reports touting San Sebastian over Bilbao but I beg to differ. I found Bilbao to be vibrant and so easy to get around. The RENFE train station is right at the heart of it. There is a simple metro, a sleek new tram, and buses. Sites are within walking distance as are multiple health food stores and restaurants. Everyone I encountered was friendly. The city felt very hip, international and lively.

After a day trip to Gernika and some northern beaches, I returned to Bilbao, hungry and happy to think that El Cort Ingles was open until 9:00pm. As I was making my way the avenue I just crossed became instantly filled with police car sirens and a veritable army of riot police jumped out and lined the street complete with masks and shields. I had no idea what was going on but realized it was best if I took another route (duh!) Fortunately this was my second day in Bilbao so I actually had some idea of where I was going. I turned and up another street saw the hovering SWAT helicopters ready to assist. Obviously I made it in and out of the Department store, but not without some minor incidence as the protestors were chanting in one of the doorways I was trying to exit through. A few blocks away, all you could hear was the occasional siren and chanting. The next day in the paper it showed dumpsters on fire and overturned cars, and someone kicking a bus (seemed fruitless) – and it was about the more extreme Basque political parties being denied participation in the upcoming elections.

Did I mention the Guggenheim museum? Not to be believed as you will see from the photograph.

No comments: