Day Three - Leave the wine region and enter the Basque Region

May 5, 2002
 Church in old section of Santo Domingo - the concert was behind the Church  an old old water spot for the pilgrims

Super shopper has bought several pieces of pottery from the only store open - its Mother's Day - and a florist is open so it is pretty hoppin. Paula picks up a couple of plates from this shop. We head out through the grassy countryside and take the toll road to Bilbao to go visit the Guggenheim museum. It pretty cool, over cast and down right cold. We didn't pack warm enough clothes for this cool Spring they are having in Spain. Apparently it snowed in Burgos the night we left. We encounter some rain on the drive to Bilbao and (shock) Paula stays awake the entire drive!
 Day three drive to Hondarribia, 214.16km, very pretty area.  

We arrive in Bilbao and guess our way down toward the Guggenheim. Of course we are in the land of the Basque, or Euskadi, as the nationalists call it, and run into a protest. So we have to guess and wind our way around this protest. Finally we find the Guggenheim, but parking is tough, we leave ourselves a good walk to get there, walking along the esplanade along the river. Everything is spelled at least three different ways around here due to language and pride. The Basque language, is probably the oldest surviving language in Europe. Industrial activity is based in Bilbao, the left bank of the Nervión river, and in the large population centers in the province. Since the Middle Ages, the Port of Bilbao has acted as a doorway to Europe for products from Castile. This, along with the intense mercantile activity brought on by the export of iron ore from Bizkaia, has determined the commercial importance of Bilbao as well as that of other localities in the province. The considerable fishing and marine activity of the coastal towns, which is still one of the pillars of the economy of Bizkaia, gives the area a unique flavor.

 The Guggenheim...the food was great the outside of the building spectacular, but the art didn't do too much for me. Several exhibits were closed, so we walked what we could and I don't think either of us really cared for the post war modernist stuff they had on display. Below is a shot of the bear in front of the entrance.  Lunch in the Guggenheim cafeteria was very good. It wasn't even the fancy restaurant either. We have wine and water with lunch and decide the Museum is the art and you can keep the other stuff. We wander out and along the water way and pass the spider and walking man. As has been the case so far, I get lucky and get my way out of the town and on to the toll road towards Hondarribia or Donastia - different name, same meaning.
 Is it a dawg or a bear?  big metallic spider at the rear of the Guggenheim
 This guy didn't say much and wasn't moving fast enough, so Paula grabbed his arm for a picture. He is along the esplanade and river behind the Guggenheim. There was also a beautiful bridge, and some pretty homes in the area and up the hill overlooking the town.  This shot is just adjacent to the bear shot. The building is really magnificent. The billboard in front of the museum lists three languages, English, Basque, Spanish, "Permanent Collection".
 We thought this was a neat bronze. Near the Guggenheim along the water.  Paula at entrance to Guggenheim
 I'm in the picture! This is the bridge I mentioned. Nothing special, it isn't listed in the guide book other than showing a bridge. But I think it is pretty neat.  Here is one of the many large buildings that boarder the river. No idea if it is private or commercial, or government. Some were looking very well kept up and others were fairly run down. There appeared to be plenty of updating going on in this town too.
 I get in the pictures sometimes...along the Ria de Bilbao.  An interesting building across the river from the Guggenheim

We shoot off to Hondarribia and the Parador there and WOW are we impressed when we arrive. The Parador is in an old old castle, our room has a great view of the bay. After we check in and freshen up we take a walk along the older part of town, have some wine and tapas for dinner and turn in around 10:30.

Day Four - In the Basque Region

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