I just realized I haven’t been telling you the days of the week, but it didn’t really come into play until today. It’s Monday, but I’ll get to that later.
I squeeze in an easy run at the hotel gym mainly because this one is big and nice and it feels good not to feel like I’m running to nowhere in a closet. This run makes me feel better about the giant omelet and more chocolate croissants I eat for breakfast. I have no idea what I’m in for with the food today, or I wouldn’t have eaten such a big breakfast. So our day of being wined and dined begins…
Day 12: Bilbao / Barcelona | Guggenheim Museum Tour
Sadly, this is our last day with Javier, our bus driver who has been with us the whole trip. He drives us into the heart of Basque country to Bilbao, a city once famous for steel and ship building and now famous as an art and architecture hub. We only get to spend a few hours here, but we quickly pick up on the kindness and friendliness of the locals, the arts, and the prestigious Basque cuisine.
Our first stop is another Frank Gehry-designed building, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. This one is titanium-clad and brilliantly reflects the city’s steel and shipyard heritage.
Since it is Monday, the museum is closed. However, Abercrombie & Kent has arranged for our group to have a private tour with the lovely Susanna. It is magical and surreal.
She guides us through galleries devoted to both modern and contemporary art, including the monumental sculpture, The Matter of Time.
One gallery contains the entire collection of Andy Warhol’s Exhibition of Shadows – 102 canvases that are always to be displayed in no particular order.
Another of my favorite exhibitions (not-pictured) is “Louise Bourgeuois. Structures of Existence: The Cells.” It is crazy. I don’t know enough about art to even tell you what type of art – maybe sculptures – they are, but I think I felt some bitterness toward her father.
My very favorite exhibition is the “Windows On The City: The School Of Paris, 1900-1945,” a collection of artwork from people like Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Kandinsky, Kupka, and more who experimented and created new forms of art (and literature) at a time when Paris was the capital of the avant-gaurde.
Johna and I leave the museum overwhelmed at the experience we just had. A private tour of the Guggenheim is not what any of us expected.
We pass the famous Puppy, a sculpture covered in thousands of flowers, on the way out.
Javier drops us off at our lunch spot in the city center, the only stop we have before going to the airport for our flight to Barcelona leaving at “5:45.”
At Victor Montes, we have pinxtos, a Basque version of tapas. We don’t order anything ourselves except drinks, and the variety of options they bring out is awesome.
After lunch, we have about 40 minutes to explore the city. John and I find an ice cream shop and settle in before heading back to meet the group in the plaza of our restaurant.
We say our goodbyes to Javier once we get to the airport. He has done a fantastic job of getting us safely everywhere, and I am going to miss him.
The airport is relatively small, and are able to roll our luggage straight into the door to the check-in line. All of us make it inside and through security. Our departure time is supposed to be 5:45, posted at 5:20, but they don’t post it until 6-something. We leave almost an hour past our original time without any notice of delay.
At any rate, Fran bumps our original 7:30 dinner (that we protested to be moved to 8:00 already) to 9:00. We have 15 minutes to freshen up once we get to El Palace, our hotel in Barcelona,
and then walk to dinner at what is my favorite restaurant of the trip.
It is called Casa Calvet, and is inside one of the first buildings designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi. It was originally designed to be the family home and business office of a textile manufacturer, and now has a restaurant on the ground floor.
We have our own space partitioned to the right of the front door and are all seated around one large round table. We loose a few of our group due to the lateness of our meal…
I am sad they miss this one, though, because the food is outstanding. I don’t need this much to eat so late at night, but I eat almost everything anyway.
We have a small bite tapa, quinoa salad as a starter, some type of fish and clams next, then a fancy burger, and finally a small mango something for dessert.
I’m surprised I don’t have to be rolled out of here.
We stroll back to our hotel and tonight, we 100% pass out cold as soon as our heads hit our pillows.
In case you missed it:
- Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon, Portugal
- Day 2: Lisbon – Private Tile Painting Workshop
- Day 3: Evora – Walled Medieval City
- Day 4: Merida, Spain / Seville
- Day 5: Seville – Gothic Cathedral and Jewish Quarter
- Day 6: Ronda / Granada – Working Farm Visit
- Day 7: Granada – The Moorish Architecture of Alhambra
- Day 8: Cordoba / Madrid – Jewish Quarter and Grand Mosque
- Day 9: Madrid – Artworks of the Masters
- Day 10: Toledo – Damascene Workshop Visit
- Day 11: Elciego – Enchanting Food and Wine Experience
Remember, posts coming by 10:00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during June. If you don’t want to miss, sign up for our newsletter and you’ll get a reminder on Sundays!