Two Bilbaos


I know two Bilbaos.

Last fall I rushed around the city snapping photos and scattering wishes in front of the Guggenheim. This time I returned not for a mere six hours, but for a three-day weekend. I lazily drank in Bilbao; I wasn’t there to see the sites as much as I wanted to pasarlo bien con los amigos.

Parque Iturriza Doña Casilda

Camp amigos, to be exact. Our trip was a mini-reunion after leaving Uclés in late August. Matt and Ely were our in-the-know guides, showing us the best of their adopted city.

Another view of the parque

Mentioning that I was going to Bilbao brought up a barrage of opinions: industrial, avant-gardeartsynot Spain. I was curious to revisit the city through the eyes of my hosts to figure out exactly which Bilbao I would find.

Flowers on Muelle Olabeaga

Ely and Matt took us along an industrial wharf, navigated a modern market, pointed us toward bountiful art offerings, and taught us words only spoken in this corner of the world.

A green space called “The duck park”

So, which Bilbao did I find?


Muelle Olabeaga

As far as I’m concerned, I found two Bilbaos: the sunny Bilbao and the rainy Bilbao. The sunny Bilbao was coy and inviting, watching as we sipped beers outdoors and strolled the length of the ría (pictured above).

Umbrella in hand, facing the city’s elegant old train station

The rainy Bilbao (above) encouraged boot sales, wet feet and umbrella-happy photos.

Exiting the metro = opening umbrellas

At one point I looked up to find a fine mist which looked eerily similar to snow. Matt taught me the word used in País Vasco for such rainfall–“chirimiri” from the Basque word “zirimiri” (hear the pronunciation here).


Indeed, after Friday afternoon this steady drizzle stopped us at every turn. When I paused to snap the previous picture, I had no sooner popped off the lens cap and the rain was sending me scrambling to pack my camera away again.

Plaza de Miguel de Unamuno

Much about the city is still a mystery to me. Just another reason to visit!

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  1. I spent two months in Bilbao au-pairing and haven’t been back since. You’ve instilled the ganas!

  2. I love the colors of the buildings!

  3. Even in the rain it looks pretty… but it could just be your great photography skills too! You have made me want to visit.

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