Wednesday, June 22, 2011
A Tourist's View: Part III The Final Chapter
Hard to believe Kevin and Lynne's trip was already nearing an end. By Monday they were well adjusted to the time zone. So, it was the day of the grand tour from Algorta to Bilbao. We put on our walking shoes (no we didn't walk all the way to Bilbao...).
We started outside their Hotel High Tech Tamarises and walked along the coast toward Las Arenas. Its a very nice stroll along the water which included in numerous locations plaques describing the historic mansions we were passing along the way.
We crossed the Nervión river on the Puente Vizcaya to Portugalete, where I had lived. From there it was an uphill walk through the Casco Histórico and then on to catch the metro to Bilbao. It was nice to share a little bit of Portugalete with friends. I was hoping to stop for coffee in La Giroa, the bar that once played "Born in the USA" every time I entered, but it was closed. We continued on to the metro.
We got out in the Casco Viejo, Bilbao which has that typical narrow street, old building, no cars feeling that characterizes many cities in Spain. It is the one area of Bilbao that really hasn't changed. The store names have changed but the overall look and feel is still the same. After a beverage and some outstanding and unusual pintxos in the Plaza Nueva we stopped in the cathedral. I had never been in it before. While there were clearly some people in there to pray, I was surprised by the number of tourists inside taking pictures on a Monday morning.
garden competition event. I couldn't decide whether what we found was funny or creepy. What's your vote? Oh, and yes it did win an award.
River Nervion (crossed from Las Arenas to Portugalete, crossed again in the metro to Bilbao, twice, and now again to head to the center of the city.) The River Nervion snakes around. As we crossed, the backside of the train station caught my eye. Architecture along the river is quite beautiful. Once across, we walked the pedestrian mall that parallels la Gran Via. We were in search of the best looking typical pastry we could find, including pastel vasco. It was our last night together with Kevin and Lynn as well as being their anniversary. We found what we were looking for on the corner of the Gran Vía near Moyua.
La Alhondiga. As described in earlier posts, its a very unique and beautiful building both inside and out. Before we entered we came upon a mirror with a bronzed frame. Perfect for taking a picture of your reflection. The inside of the building however has low lighting which doesn't ever seem to work well for pictures. At that point hunger was setting in so we headed to Moyua and filled ourselves with more amazing pintxos from El Globo, my favorite pintxo spot, followed by ice cream from Heladería Alaska.
Our final destination, the Guggenheim. Unfortunately it is closed on Monday's. So, we settled for some good pictures from the outside. I had to leave the group behind as it was nearing 4pm and I needed to pick up the girls from school by 4:30.
Eventually we all met back in Algorta. Our evening ended with a nice home cooked meal and, of course, the pastries we picked up earlier in the day.
Tuesday was a short morning as we only had a bit of time to share breakfast with Kevin and Lynne, and take a walk back through the Puerto Viejo of Algorta and along the beach before the cab to the airport arrived.
It was a very quick five days together but I think we all enjoyed it. Every once in a while it's important to play tour guide in your own city. Too often we forget to look up and to see what we have until it is time to discover and share it through the eyes of a tourist.