Maree & Jack cycle Portugal and walk Spain travel blog

A lovely, smooth on-road bicycle lane in Bilbao.

A giant steel tarantula outside the Guggenheim.

A huge floral dog outside the Guggenheim.

A view of the Guggenheim in all its titanium glory.

Another view of the Guggenheim.

One of the Bilbao trams on its carpet of green grass.Why can't...

Four little schoolgirls sitting by a pond.

Kids playing soccer in the public park.

Guess what they sell in this shop??

Wow ... we didn't wake till 8:00am this morning. I suppose the late night meal and all the travel took its toll. Since we were not keen on having breakfast at the hotel we went for a walk to a pastry shop we had sussed out the night before and had tea and a variety of delicious pastries for breakfast. The weather had clouded over during the night and there was a slight drizzle falling so our rain jackets got a work out at last. By the time we had finished breakfast it was approaching 10:00am and the Guggenheim Gallery was open so we headed that way and used the tickets I had obtained when I booked the hotel. Despite the fact that one whole floor was closed we still managed to spend more than three hours wandering about the exhibits. The whole place is brilliantly set out and the audio guides are well set up and informative without becoming a pain with too much information. There were some absolutely stunning exhibits and we are so glad that we went to the Gallery. After a light lunch at the Guggenheim we set out for a walk around the shopping district only to find that many of the shops were closed for lunch. This wasn't really an issue since we were not planning to shop anyway.

We walked all over town enjoying the scenery, the fine buildings, the interesting sight of a very modern building surrounded by the facade of some older previous construction. I was delighted to see on road cycle paths clearly and distinctly separated from car traffic. A surprise was to see their trams whose tracks run along a park with grass growing all around the tracks. It appears that the tram is running along a lawn; perhaps we could do this in Melbourne on Victoria Parade and through Royal Park. By around 4:00pm we were getting a bit footsore so decided to head back to the hotel. Because the hotel supplies a kettle, hooray, we looked for a shop to buy some milk. That proved quite a problem and eventually I stopped in at a bike shop where the owner, a pom, directed us to a small establishment where we bought milk and extra teabags.

A relaxing tea and a rest gave us the energy to continue our wandering around the city by about 5:30. This time we walked upstream, watching some paddle boarders and canoeists until we reached the museum again. The sun was out now and the gleaming titanium skin of the Guggenheim was reflecting sunlight in every direction. It looks fabulous! Continuing along the river bank Maree spotted what looked like a shopping mall. This proved to be correct and a bit of wandering led us to a store where Maree found a top she couldn't live without. Eventually we reached some parks, here we found families enjoying the late summer sunlight. We watched a cute group of four little girls in school uniform sitting by a pond playing and chatting. Some boys kicking a football around while others rode their bikes in between, somehow avoiding being hit by the ball. Further on we came across family groups in small squares eating, playing, chatting and just enjoying life. We realised that these families all came from the surrounding apartments. The only open space for the kids to play is in the public squares and small parks. This is something that we don't see in Eltham where we all live in our suburban homes with our own gardens. Perhaps this happens around the high rise units in Carlton but it was a new experience for us. The whole city area is vibrant and full of life.

By now the time was 7:30pm and we had been walking about for most of ten hours so it was time to head back and rest up before dinner. It was way too early to go to a restaurant! The way of life is quite different here than in Australia. At a time when most Aussie kids would be having dinner and getting ready for bed these kids are still out on the streets with their parents. Eventually, at 8:30 we decided to go to the local trattoria for a pasta meal. We were their first customers and for the next hour or so their only customers. About 10 minutes before we decided to leave the next customers arrived. At a restaurant just a few doors away there were no customers at all at 9:30. We wondered if there would be any before the night was through. Anyway it was time for us to head up to our room to shower and prepare for the next day.

By the way, I am pleased to say that we met a bunch of much friendlier Spanish people today. Not all of them spoke English but they seemed to understand my attempts to communicate and were happy to do it with a smile. And the pastries, what pastries, they are to die for. How do they stop from getting obese in this country??? There is such a variety of pastry, it makes Baker's Delight and even Jacques in Black Rock look pretty basic.

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