Bilbao is underrated.
We spent the last few days of our Basque country travels in Bilbao after our stay in San Sebastian. We were flying out of BIO airport, so it made logistical sense to make it our final stop. However, we weren’t expecting to really like it. After one hour of walking around and making our way to the Guggenheim Museum, I felt the initial pangs of regret. I overlooked this clean, artistic and cultural city as just a last minute stopover before returning home. There’s a lot more to this subtle urban Spanish city than just a world-renowned contemporary art museum.
The juxtaposition between modern and traditional is interwoven throughout the entire city. There are hard metal contemporary structures interspersed with older, worn wooden buildings decorated with fresh flowers in the window sills. Old school dark Basque diners, neighborhood fruit stands lined up next to trendy sushi bars with a mix of lazy outdoor cafes where you indulge in cafe con leche followed by cerveza that overlooks an ice cream stand and playground to keep the littles occupied. This city is a mix of grit, edgy and street with bright, whimsical and romantic. #interculture in its own way. No matter where you looked, it was colorful. Bilbao is brilliance.
Travel can be a tease. You get to sample little bites of towns and regions for a short amount of time. But if you’re lucky, you return. You know you’re going back to a sure thing, and you indulge in a deeper experience. In the meantime, you’re left dreaming about the indelible first impression that can’t escape your thoughts. Bilbao will be lingering in my thoughts for a long while.
See for yourself. Behold Bilbao.