Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bilbao and Guggenheim Museum

After a whirlwind trip to the beaches of NE Spain and SW France we headed back home to Ribadesella.  We did have to make one important stop...Bilbao, Spain.  For years we have been the only Bilbao jazz trio band family that hasn't been to the Basque city of Bilbao and seen the Guggenheim, the image of which was the inspiration for Spencer's band's name.
We got to Bilbao just fine but again, navigating the city streets was a challenge without a detailed map.  We got a nice tour of a neighborhood that would not be suggested by the local tourist bureau:  the "red-light", down-on-your-luck, seen better days, struggling immigrant neighborhood.  We turned a corner, wondering if we were headed the right way, and there was the Guggenheim right in front of us.  Now for some parking...

Parking garage, Bilbao, Spain.  The green lights indicate open spots, red ones are occupied.  We saw this type of garage in San Sebastian as well.  The boys think it's a hoot and loved it when I would back out so they could see the light turn green...then drive back into the space to see it turn red again.  As a driver, the idea really makes sense in a big garage!  Squeaky clean too!

The first sculpture to greet us outside of the Guggenheim was "Puppy", a huge floral West Highland Terrier by Jeff Koons.  All the pictures we have seen were taken when Puppy was not in bloom.  We felt lucky to see him (her?) in full-bloom.  Puppy is fed by a drip system, similar to that on the vertical garden wall in Madrid.  I also saw what looked like sprinkler heads, seemingly disguised somewhat as whiskers.

"Puppy" at the entrance to the Guggenheim

"Please, please can we take him home,boys?"

Even the back is gorgeous!

From what we understand, the Guggenheim, by architect, Frank Gehry, sits on the site of a previous industrial wasteland:  decrepit warehouses and shipbuilding operations on the Ría de Bilbao.  (In Basque country el río is the feminine, la ría.  Just when I thought I had a few Spanish things figured out!)  There are so many possible views of the Guggenheim and so many angles; here you have it in an array of pictures.

At first the Guggenheim looks like a jumbled heap of several buildings from some Dr. Seuss book.

Closer inspection and we see how the building comes together.

Every nook is beautiful.
There was no photography allowed in the building but Spencer did take one "illegal" picture of Richard Serra's "The Matter of Time."  We walked through these maze-like structures and then got to see them from an upper level.

Louis and Oliver got audio headsets (in English!) for descriptions of the exhibits.  Oliver had a limited interest in the art but Louis insisted on looking at and listening to descriptions of all the exhibits available on the headset.  We have come to realize that he is a much more avid art enthusiast than August and Oliver.  There were a few exhibits outside that we could take pictures of, and so we did.

"Tulips" by Jeff Koons.  Louis listens intently.

August, Oliver and Spencer in "Tulips"

"Tall Tree & The Eye" by Anish Kapoor.  Again, Louis much engaged.
 We had lunch, so civilized, tapas and wine, at the museum.  Then headed outside to explore and walk along La Ría.

There is a seemingly endless variety of bottled water in Spain.  Here's one brand that was new to us.

On the walkway outside the museum.

"Maman" by Louis Bourgeouis.  There are eggs visible in her egg sac.

Edge of Guggenheim and bridge that was redone during construction of the museum.  Note the tall structure at right.  This hides the stairs to the bridge.
View of Maman and Ría de Bilbao from under the bridge.
Louis on the stairway to the bridge. 
We went to check out the playground and bar next to the Guggenheim.  Kids played and ate ice cream, Sara drank coffee and Spencer a gin and tonic.  There was a jazz trio playing at the playground.  We could hardly believe our ears when the band started playing "In Walked Bud" a Bilbao jazz trio standard!  Too perfect!

Louis on another cool climber like the one in Barcelona.

Jazz at the Guggenheim

Soaking up the sun while the kids run around.

Riding the tea cup in the toddler playground.

A walk along the river:

Another cool bridge.

Old meets new.

Old bridge

What's on top of that building?

Man with goose?  Swan?

Taking a break.  August tries not to smile.

Goofing around.

Hey, I'm here too!

We could have spent hours more here but we had to drive the 2.5 hours more back to Ribadesella.  It was a great way to spend our 17th wedding anniversary.   Bilbao is another place we hope to get back to some day. 

Time to go, Louis.

Modern building near the parking garage.
Clouds along the way home.

Home to cheese, bread and our sidra dulce...a treat for me after all the driving.

And home to playing on an ipod....

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sara et al,

    It really looks like your Spain interlude has been delightful thus far! Congrats on making this dream come true!

    Look forward to seeing you when you come back next month.
    We got the postcard of the horse cave painting.