Sunday, 23 November 2008

Taking time in the Basque Country

Applying slowmoves re-adjusts how we look at a journey. If we get there quick, we are more likely to want things quick while we are there. At least from my experience. On short holidays before slowmoves, I would be less likely to be spontaneous and considered any travel while away with reluctance. However on a trip to San Sebastian earlier this month, a two hour bus ride along the coast to Bilbao seemed like a short amount of time, considering it would open up two days in a place of intrigue, to which I had not been before. I had enjoyed the trains to San Seb from Paris, so a couple of hours more travel was no chore, and right to do given rain was falling on and on. Beside the Bay of Biscay during November!

The Guggenheim was stunning. The food market - Mercado de La Ribera - was another place certainly worth seeing. A great cafe inside it to sit amongst the stalls, the river to one side and Inglesia de San Anton, one of Bilbao's oldest churches, to another. The market also stands at the start of the 'seven streets' of original Bilbao, and not far from Plaza Nueva. Surrounded by old, old facades, Plaza Nueva offered us a couple of gems. To stay, check out the cheap and basic but full of character, Pension Manea. Somewhere-like we stumbled with heavy bags to find. Top floor and views on to red roofs and street below, but made by the owner who welcomed us like lost children! And on the corner of the Plaza was the fantastic Cafe Bar Bilbao. From it's tiles to the food, the Cafe holds an authenticity as real as the Basque people that frequent it.

It takes time to build places with as much character, it's certainly worth taking the time to find them.



  1. Oh Bilbao! I spent an incredibly happy three years of my life there, all of them living in the 'Casco Viejo.' The first couple were in the Plaza Nueva: I would spend hours looking out over the square, watching people milling. Well worth going there on a Sunday when there are lots of old men exchanging cards and coins, old books and antiques.....
    Also great to take the metro all the way out the the beach at Sopelana. A real surfer hang out with a great cafe up on the cliff. Or Plenzia with its harbour great cliff walking.
    In fact is amazing walking everywhere around Bilbao - I had a little folder full of GR20 walks. So much more to share but I have to get back to work. Thanks though George - your article bought a smile to my day.

  2. Hello findyourfeet, nice to hear from you, and someone who knows Bilbao so well! Sorry though I missed out on a Sunday morning... Reminds me of a walk along Playa Barcelonetta in Barcelona and all the men playing Dominos. Thank you for a smile back! For sure will be going to Bibao again so a note for me and others made to check out Sopelana and Plenzia. Looking back on my posting, I can't belive I didn't write more about food. Something else amazing that area offers.

    Be good to hear more abuot the walks if you get a moment. The GR20 that prompted a blog on this page was one of my fondest weeks away, so great to hear of other GR routes you could poss recommend!

    Have a happy weekend,