September 23rd.  DAY 7              Exploring Bilbao.

Pilgrim at the Guggenheim

It is  a while since my last blog and a full year since we were enjoying the delights of Bilbao. Time to set off on the blog road again and to try to make sense of the second week of walking towards Santander.

Mike has plans to celebrate Mass at the Cathedral this morning. It is his late mother’s birthday and we caught the train for a few miles last night to ensure we were here to allow him to join the morning service to remember her.

Cathedral Bilbao

I decide to make my way to the Museum of Art and then the Guggenheim and to meet him there later in the day. I walk into the old town, past the Cathedral and out to the outskirts on the river. Early Sunday already sees many of the less fortunate and homeless of Bilbao gathering along this less visited  part of the city. There appears a kind of comradeship among them.  A few recognise my obvious displacement and try to beg. This action always makes me feel uncomfortable and I have decided long ago that I would share food if I had any but that I would not give money . In my travels I have encountered so many beggars and I decided long ago that unless I saw it as a dire emergency, money is not the answer. My few sous would not spread very far. It never rests easy on my conscience however and with this negative feeling I start to follow the riverbank walk out to the Guggenheim and Art Museum.


The Museum of Arts houses much impressive Spanish art. The highlight, that I often think of a year later, is the wonderful Goya collection. I am astounded at the quality of the work but his bravery in producing such graphic commentary on the outrages of war and man’s potential for cruelty and abuses of power is what I especially admire.

inside the guggenheim

I spend a full morning here before taking the short stroll to the Guggenheim. The star of the show is the building itself. With some similarity to the Sydney Opera House it seems to follow no accepted rules of Architecture. The interior is a work of art itself. Vaulted and apparently weightless and suspended in mid-air it is a modern Cathedral of modern art.


I am lucky to catch the Hockney collection that I missed in London. Gallery after gallery of his work takes me on a journey through his developing experimentation with modern technology. His work reminds me of the best of the impressionists as he fixates on a simple view and catches it through different times of day and year, playing with light and colour and mood. I loved his film exhibit that plays with simple daily routines in a humorous but somehow sinister manner.


I meet up with Mike and leave him to enjoy his visit while I go off to a cafe to write my journal. A stiff,  warm breeze is threatening the parasols and sends litter swirling along the riverbank. A storm is l ooming.

In the evening we take a stroll to the Old Town and find the Cathedral open. A wonderful choir from Boston USA is singing a divine Christe Eleison and the setting and wonderful sound brings tears to the eyes. The day has been full of so many of the best that man can create. My thoughts wander to the vagrants I saw this morning and wonder if they have anything in their lives at the moment that will so uplift them. Not for the first time I feel so blessed and lucky to be able to take this journey.

And , yet again, the Camino provides succour for the spirit.

We are energised and ready to take off again tomorrow on our second week of walking.