Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Not your pao for breakfast nor the bill to pay for the pao. Bilbao is actually the largest city of the Basque Country in northern Spain. The reason why I would like to highlight this city is that I’ve been there sometime ago and I think I should share some of the least-explored parts of the world with my friends. And I just had the itch and urge to return.

This is one of the very first expeditions I had without an official tour guide. I stayed in London for a month a couple of years ago and my cousin was kind enough to expose me to the world of traveling – hopping from cities to cities on our own with a map in hand. I find it very difficult to write this post as I am trying to pick up the bits and pieces of what remained as a memory now. But I do know that I will not forget about this place the moment I stepped into this city.

There's an air smelling of art, culture, architecture and modernism. I felt all of them and all are intertwined into this wonderful city. People are often taken by surprise when they heard me mentioning Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava in the same breath.

I know Frank Gehry because after all, he designed the Wyborowa Vodka bottle and Tiffany & Co Gehry collection, didn't he?!! Actually, his most famous work of art has still got to be the Guggenheim Museum and there's where I learnt more about this world reknown and pioneering architect. His use of unusual materials, flowing forms and interlocking structures is legendary. That is exactly what he did with the museum. It was built by the riverfront, using titanium, glass, stones and wood with structures consisting of radically sculpted, organic contours. Even the titanium panels looked like fish scales and it reflects the light beautifully.

Frankly, I appreciate architecture than art itself. I was more interested in the building than the exhibitions of art that it housed. There was a giant spider sculpture where I can pole dance, some iron human sculptures and also a huge floral Puppy by Jeff Koons which the flower changes colour according to seasons, and also gigantic Tulips all for pleasure viewing. There was so much of fulfillment just strolling around the building because there's so much to see. And you can find the asymmetrical museum looks all different from every angle!

Hello all, this is my iron boyfriend!

The Zubizuri, "white bridge" is a tied arch footbridge across Nervion River in Bilbao, where you can walk to the Guggenheim museum using that bridge which is designed by Calatrava,. He is another great architect whom also designed the Loiu Airport of Bilbao. He is one who believes in bridging structural engineering with architecture. Another distinctive point about him is that he all his structures are in white!

It's actually quite cold but one for the picture!

Besides the modern structures and architectures, one can also visit the Cathedral de Santiago at the Plaza Santiago which is also another magnificent Gothic-styled cathedral built in the 16th century. There are seven streets converging at this limestone cathedral, making it a must-visit-spot for the tourists. Traveling around town is easy with the bus, Metro and EuskoTran.

Below are some of the other best places to visit in Bilbao:

Casco Viejo (Old historic town)
Puente Colgante (Hanging Transporter Bridge)
Plaza Nueva (Spanish Square with al fresco dining)
Mercado Rural de Santo Tomas (Flea Market)
Plaza Moyua (Plaza/square)

The people there are generally friendly and educated. And even the policemen asked me to take a photo with them and they gave me their email! Lol...

The hotel that I stayed in is Barcelo H Nervion, a 3 star hotel at Campo Volantin which is just 200m from the metro and about 7-10 mins of walking distance to the Guggenheim Museum. It's about RM300 a night and in Europe it might not be the best but it's still ok. And it's only 10km from the airport which is considered a fairly good location. KLM flies direct from KL to Bilbao and it will cost you a 5 figure airfare but one could take a flight to London and then switch to the low cost airlines like easyjet which costs around RM700 to fly to Bilbao from Stansted London.

But what I hated about easyjet is their ultra-strict system. We were at the airport hours in advance but the queue at the security check was so long and we didn't manage to reach the gate 40 mins before boarding time. We tried pleading the attendant at the counter because there were about 10 of us who couldn't get onto the plane but she refused to even talk to us. The airline rather waste time by throwing our luggages out than letting us in! And so we ended up paying extra a few hundred ringgit for the next flight and had to wait in Stansted for 6 hours! Don't you feel blessed to have Air Asia (always delayed boarding and less punctual) now?

This is strictly for those whom appreciates architecture than the art of shopping. Anyone having the itch to travel to Bilbao? I might and I'm still keeping the map!

Note: Don't tease me about my hair and the photographs because I seemed to have lost my digital copies and so I had to scan the photos piece by piece!


_WeiMei_ said...

wah.... ur hair very long le... hahah.. cant cham u le... hahahaa...

-eiling- said...

wei mei: wah you so fast leh! so cekap!

annant said...

in one glance, i was wondering who's that gal huh?...hhaa
apparently u look very different with long hair back then ;)

KY said...

at first i thought the pics were some korean pop stars. lol

-eiling- said...

Annant: Haha... yes..very different.

KY: so is that an insult or compliment?!

Myhorng said...

the pictures like longlongtime ago nia.

bilbao never hear tar pao i know lar.

Anonymous said...

wah u look cute with long hair ... very pop like ...


suituapui said...

You look older then... Must be the hair! LOL!!! Wah...you're like a magnet attracting all the good-looking hunks everywhere!

-eiling- said...

Horng: Apa la u ni... tak ada culture... ngek ngek ngek

Razim: Haha... tak sangka ya?

STP: No lah... I very shy one.. (blush) haha

YilingL said...

Jom kita ber-BILBAO!

* ZILING * said...

Ok let's go together in Sept 1st or 2nd week before i start new job!

Anonymous said...

People just talked about your hair style. But I wonder why you loved architecture, whereas you selected your work on chocolate.

-eiling- said...

Yiling: OK!

Ziling: You belanja?

Anon: Let's just say that I love food but need not be a chef. I like to look at buildings when I go travelling and I appreciate the beauty of those structures. Everyone travels for different reasons and I just love visiting these buildings.

little prince's mummy said...

Unique architecture of the buildings!

YT said...

Hi, I am dropping by to notify you that I've linked one of your comment's page to my latest post

Sorry for not asking for permission before using.

-eiling- said...

Little Prince's mummy: Yes indeed.

YT: No prob.

foongpc said...

Bilbao? I thought it's some kind of food! haha!

Wow the museum looks amazing!

Didn't realise that picture is you. Look so different! I think short hair better : )

-eiling- said...

Foongpc: Haha... it's a cute name for a city. Long hair no nice meh?!! But i think short is better too! use less shampoo

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