Bilbao and the Guggenheim
Within half an hour of arriving in the centre of Bilbao, even before we had checked into our hotel, the most important call on our time was to sit at a restaurant terrace and enjoy a ‘menú del día’, a three course menu of the day, that included wine and coffee. This is the moment when you feel you have really arrived!
But it was to our astonishment, when we visited the iconic Guggenheim museum, to discover that the David Hockney exhibition, so feted and so well attended in London, was still there. What was even more remarkable was the lack of queues and the very cheap 8 Euro entry fee. Seeing his paintings of Yorkshire landscapes, repeated according to the different seasons, hanging on the walls of a Basque museum, was little short of fictional. And this was a museum of a difference. On the exterior, it is covered with a fine sheet of titanium, and on the inside scarcely a wall or ceiling has straight or rectangular lines. In the atrium especially, the inclines and curvatures played tricks on the eyes.
Step outside this rust-resisting building, and you will have the pleasure of meeting ‘Mamá‘, a 22 tonne, 10 metre high spider made of bronze, meriting its name of ‘Mummy’ because of the sack of baby spiders in its underbelly.
Go around to the front of the museum and doff your cap to ‘Puppy‘, a giant floral sculpture of a West Highland terrier, originally intended as a temporary exhibit for the grand opening of the museum in 1997, it fought its way into the hearts and affection of the locals who demanded its return as a permanent feature.