Camino de Santiago: Bilbao

Our final destination on our first segment of the Camino de Santiago, Bilbao provided a transition point for our return to city life in Spain. After 10 days and over 100 miles of walking, Las Chicas enter Bilbao slowly, stopping for café and tortilla.

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As we descend stairs from the path, we have our first sighting of the Gothic Basílica de Begoña. We glimpse inside, the altar shimmers in gold, but we quietly exit, as mass is in progress.

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We continue to follow the Camino markers,

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and descend into Bilbao, this time on a walkway parallel to the old cobbles.  We arrive earlier than expected and have most of the day to explore before we can park our packs at the pension for the evening.

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We visit several more Camino sights, including the Cathedral of Santiago.

Given the early hour, Las Chicas decide to venture further into Bilbao and visit the Guggenheim, designed by Frank Gehry.

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The Guggenheim is mesmerizing,

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endlessly capturing light,

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and color,

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changing with the movement of the clouds and sun.

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Winding around the outside we come upon “The Puppy”, by Jeff Koons.

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The Puppy is a 13-meter high topiary sculpture,

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planted with marigolds, begonias, impatiens, petunias and lobelias.

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From another angle, the Guggenheim transforms again and changes from its silvery tones to a bronze color.

After finishing our Menu del Día, Las Chicas enjoy more creative sites in Bilbao.

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Zubizuri footbridge, Basque for “white bridge” designed by Santiago Calatrava.

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Variante Ovoide de la Desocupacion de la Esfera, Jorge Otieza. Translated, Unoccupied Sphere.

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Metro Station, leading into the Renfe Train Station

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Arriaga Theater outdoor stage

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Mary checking out the outdoor exercise equipment

After some stressful moments, with not a soul at the Pension where we have a reservation, the night is saved with a room at a nearby hotel. Following long hot showers and a short rest, we venture out for some local fare. Or “Nano Gastronomia” as one brochure calls it.

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Sumptuous pintxos (pinchos) – mousakka, gambas in purple potato puree, grilled chicken in pineapple foam, served with Txakoli wine.

Train tickets purchased, bags packed and stored by the front desk, we head out to explore Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) before leaving for Barcelona in the afternoon.

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A few churches, some gelato and relaxing by a fountain in the park mark the end of our first Camino adventure.

© 2014 by Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds. All rights reserved.

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