I had read the stories of how a gritty, shipbuilding city in Spain had reinvented itself as an arts and cultural center built around the signature Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum. I had seen the pictures. But I wasn’t ready for the reality.
We spent Sunday in Bilbao, Spain — after a drive through the lovely heart of the Basque country — and Candice and I found the first city where we are set on finding a way to return as soon as possible. Bilbao in the 1980s saw the closing of an iconic shipyard and had the foresight to think creatively and boldly about a new future which blended new and old.
It is the last part — the blending of new and old — that is often missed in the write-ups about Bilbao’s renaissance. You get the impact of Gehry’s Guggenheim, along with the works of Calatrava, Norman Foster and other modern masters.
But what is often missing is the context for these works: a walkable and vibrant historic city dating back to the 14th century.
I took over 160 pictures on Sunday, so with spotty internet connections this will be the Cliff Notes (or whet your appetite) version of our visit. Return over the weekend when we’re home with consistent connections that make uploading easier, and I’ll recap Bilbao and — in fact — the entire trip.
Until then, enjoy two pictures of the Guggenheim, a shot of the Calatrava bridge (yet another in my collection), and one teaser for the great, yet unheralded, historic district in Bilbao.
More (definitely) to come…