26 August 2009


From the "Lost Mountain" my path leads once more across the Pyrenees into France and then (again across a pass...) right back into Spain. I arrive in the bordertown of Irun which turns out to be a shopping heaven for the French to purchase cigarettes, alcohol and fuel in cheaper Spain. Horrid place. Made for motorized traffic and cheap people.
But there is no other road going to the coast and that's where I am headed.
After 2 days in San Sebastian (nice, touristy, overbooked hostels - I end up sleeping on the beach two times to be woken up by cops the next morning...) my way continues along the coast to the city of Bilbao.
Bilbao has gained worldwide fame because of its Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Ghery (spelling might be wrong but then again - names are for gravestones). The roof of the museum is made of titanium. The story I heard about the titanium is that it was available when Russia reduced its nuclear warheads and lots of rockets (made of titanium) became redundant. apparently at that time even spates and pickaxes were available in titanium because they didn't know what to do with it otherwise. Rockets were (for once) not in demand...
The story might not be true but I like it. Sadly there haven't been many times lately where titanium became abundantly available.

However, the Guggenheim is alright but to my taste nothing fancy. There is a small museum in the black forest (Vitra Design Museum - also designed by Gehry and without titanium) that I like much better.
The rest of Bilbao (excluding a fancy waterfront along the river) is more or less a dump. BUT: the people of Bilbao know to ignore this and anyway, it's fiesta time! The day I arrive in Bilbao, its population has been on a binge for an entire week!!! The party started on August 15 and lasts a full week. There are drunk people everywhere, not only punks with their dogs but regular people. All kind of social and political groups set up tents and serve food and alcohol literally 24/7. So since I don't know where to leave my bicycle I just leave it behind one of the beer counters and head off to buy beer.
I squat opposite of this inventive group of beggars (see picture below). They give you different options for your donation: "booze", "cigarettes", "the dogs" or a donation boy for all those who are "not yet sure for wich purpose" the donation should be used...

The party lasts all night and the next day I leave Bilbao with a slight hangover. The Guggenheim still doesn't look fancier but teh sun is shining and I am on the road direction Santander...
(Picture above: my bicycle in front of the oh-so-fancy Guggenheim titanium facade)

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