We arrived in Bilbao just after 10:30 pm. Outside the train station there was loud music and the streets were packed with
people enjoying the final weekend of Semana Grande, a week-long music festival. It was intimidating; new in town, unsure
about where we needed to go, and dragging our suitcases. Fortunately, we had reserved a room at the very nice Hotel Abando,
so we had a place to stay less than two city blocks away from the station, and thanks to Google Maps we had a localized map
that helped us find the location quickly (relatively).
By the way, Grande Semana is also known as Aste Nagusía in Euskara (Basque), the traditional language of the region
surrounding Bilbao. Most of the signs around town, including, for example, the instructions on the ticket kiosks for
the city trolley system (the Euskatren, appropriately enough), are in three languages: Euskara, Spanish, and English.
The west side of the Guggenheim museum. The temporary fence and large bandstand on the right
are ready for the final night of the Aste Nagusía festival.
The central lobby of the Guggenheim, with walkways connecting the galleries on the upper floors.
The building really was the star of this show. The exhibitions inside it, which included only four
artists, were not exactly varied, and the works of the primary artists--Jeff Koons, Richard Serra,
and Basquiat--were not, well, exactly impressive, although Koons can be fun (cf. below).
The most interesting work was a lengthy abstract video presentation by Shazia Sikander.
One of the small number of artists exhibited in the museum at this time was Jeff Koons.
This is one of his mirror-finish "balloon" sculptures (actually made of stainless steel).
This was one of the most attractive sculpture displays at the Guggenheim--tapas at the small
cafe on the third floor. Or maybe we were just hungry ... We did have lunch there.
One of the side streets in the older Ribera distrct, decorated for the festival.
Much of Bilbao is definitely not on a grid system, and it was quite easy to get lost.
Looking out the end of the station on the foggy morning as we boarded our 9:20 train for Madrid.
The pictures of this trip are divided into several sets: