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After coffee on Wednesday morning we set off for the old town of Bilbao. We took a longer than necessary route, but didn’t have a map at that point. I managed to slip over on the wet pavement, my new pumps have little or no grip. I may have to buy new ones – in fact I think I will next time I’m somewhere suitable for a purchase.

Bilbao has all the big and designer stores including El Corte Ingles, my favourite. But we left that for later and went in search of the information office.

Getting a map was more difficult than usual as you had to take a ticket and wait in line.Nothing is on display due to covid restrictions. But 10 minutes later we were armed with our map and were off.

Bilbao Theatre
Bilbao Theatre

The theatre sits by the river looking quite splendid. Other 19th century buildings lie on the opposite side of the Bilbao river. After taking a few photos we headed into the old quarter and the cathedral. I particularly liked the cloisters and gardens with lemon trees. The cathedral itself was fine but uninspiring.

Cathedral Cloister. Photo is taken from one corner. Trees in background
Cathedral Cloister
Lemon tree complete with fruit
Lemon tree

Afterwards we had a beer at a cafe outside before strolling back to the riverside for some lunch.

Food outlet selling Pintxos
Food hall
Close up of the open sandwiches - Pintxos

The covered market also sits by the riverside, the market stalls inside were just closing for lunch. However at the back of the building is a huge food hall. Individual outlets were selling Pintxos, a Basque form of tapas. Most were small open sandwiches topped with anything you care to think of. We spent a good hour there (including during a rain shower) before leaving for the art gallery.

The modern art gallery is set at the edge of a park. Inside the main exhibition are tenuously arranged alphabetically. The word ‘modern’ is also tenuous as some of the best in the collections is from the 13th to 16th centuries. Sore feet and feeling we’d had enough art sent us outside for a rest and a drink. Then we strolled through the park and out to the waterfront and to the Guggenheim museum. This is apparently an iconic building of Bilbao. It may be my age but I preferred the buildings across the water. Or the ones at the edge of another flower filled square we walked to on our way to the river.

Guggenheim museum
Buildings on opposite side of river to Guggenheim.
Buildings opposite

We didn’t go inside the Guggenheim, our legs and feet were sore and anyway I’m not sure it’s contents are our style. We went back to the centre of town instead and to El Corte Ingles. I wanted to buy some gin glasses for the apartment in France, but couldn’t find any that looked sturdy enough, so we left empty handed.

My feet were really hurting so we decided on an early dinner. After much walking around we found an alley way with restaurants laid for dinner. The other establishments had just been serving pintos and drinks. We shared a plat of amazing iberico ham, then I had a fish risotto and Graeme a steak.

We headed home via the supermarket, then rested our feet and legs while eating strawberries and creme fraiche and drinking a rather nice red wine. A bath would have been perfect but not available here. 25k steps in a day meant I needed to take some painkillers for my poor feet to help get me to sleep, but I then slept a full. 8 hours.

Next stop San Sebastián.

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