The now in Bilbao
April 17, 2017 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Bilbao in early June. Help me plan!

I'll have a few days in Bilbao for work in early June. I'll only have about three, maybe four days to myself, so I'd like to make the most of things. I will not have a car. The Guggenheim is my only definite destination. I like people-watching, going to flea markets, sitting in coffee shops while eating interesting pastries, looking at lovely views, art, and history. I generally don't mind figuring out public transportation.

Any advice on how or where to go for a pinxtos crawl? Are there Basque delicacies that will work for this fish-averse person? Are there any funky stores I should try to get to? (I am a plus size woman so finding something fun to wear might be fun if it's possible.) I'd love to take a quick trip down to Madrid, but I think that will have to wait for another trip when I finally get to southern Spain.

My shopping list currently consists of:
A good quality gold religious medal because my mom wants one from Spain
two flavors of Ricola sugar free lozenges that my sister has addicted me to and which are hard to find in the US without paying through the nose
What else should I add?
posted by PussKillian to Travel & Transportation around Bilbao, Spain (4 answers total)
We really liked the Philippe Starck designed Alhondiga cultural centre, its in central Bilbao, about a km south of the Guggenheim so easy to get to on foot. The old town is good for plenty of places that had good pintxos, again, easy to get to on foot. We had a pleasant evening out eating in what i think was Plaza Berria, stuffing ourselves with local dried meat and other platters.

I'm struggling to work out when the season is but Bilbao has a Pelota court/centre and it might be interesting to see a game of there are any on while you are there.

See this previous question also.
posted by biffa at 3:38 PM on April 17, 2017

When I was in Bilbao for about a week a while back I did a lot of flaneuresque wandering around and had a great time. I loved the Casco Viejo especially; when you find the huge outdoor staircase, climb all the way to the top to find what's at the summit. (One of several urban mountain peaks in the city. The topography of the place I found stunning.) Do proper homage when you find the monument to the philosopher Unamuno! There's a streetcar that connects the area of the bus station to the west with the Casco Viejo whose sound system was playing Thelonius Monk when I rode.

I also got on the subway going north along the Ría and explored the suburbs thataways -- on the west bank some are built charmingly on a very steep incline -- and happened across the just lovely and unique mechanical hanging bridge over the Ría. Worth a ride especially if you have a spot for antique engineering marvels. It solves the same problem that a drawbridge does but in a totally different way. Definitely talk a walk along the banks of the Ría near the Guggenheim, too; there are a series of several more conventional bridges to cross there, each in a different style. In the suburbs I stumbled into a modernist cathedral during the a well-attended collective performance of the prayers of the rosary, which was darkly awesome and humbling. Churches are not museum pieces in the Basque Country!

There's a tourist kiosk on the Ría in the city near the Guggenheim, I believe, which had lots of helpful pamphlets.

You should buy the famed local chorizo sausage in a market and eat it picnic style with bread and cheese.
posted by bertran at 12:34 AM on April 18, 2017

The hanging bridge is, I find, called the Vizcaya Bridge, and connects the suburb Portugalete to the suburb Las Arenas. For spoilers, there's a wikipedia article. But worth a trip!
posted by bertran at 12:56 AM on April 18, 2017

Spot of coincidence: Guardian's top ten Pintxos bars in Bilbao.
posted by biffa at 1:11 AM on April 18, 2017

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