Modern, mind bending, and mentally interactive, the Guggenheim Museum is one of the must-do experiences of Spain.
You could easily spend an hour getting lost in the beauty of the facade, with the monstrous tarantula, the skyscraper of a flowered dog, and the fact that the building looks like a series of cookie cutters someone has carefully stacked on top of itself.
This should give you a great clue as to the many outstanding exhibitions that lie inside. Find the Guggenheim centrally located in Bilbao, one of the up-and-coming cities of Spain.
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Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Before you head in to the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim, wander around outside to see a menagerie of outdoor sculptures like Jeff Koons’s super-sized flowery canine and Louise Bourgeois’s nine-meter-tall spider, Maman. Once inside, learn more about the space and its changing, thematic exhibitions in the Zero Espazioa orientation room. Now you're prepared to dive headfirst into galleries packed with contemporary art by the likes of Rothko and Warhol.
Jeff Koons' Puppy (1992) in front of the Guggenheim sits over 12.4 meters (40 feet) high and weighs more than 60 tons!
The living sculpture is covered with about 38,000 flowers, different varieties for different seasons. A fully automated water distribution system feeds the greenery from the inside. All of the plants are replaced twice a year, in May and October, a leisurely activity that takes no less than 20 people over the course of 9 days.
A local guide told me that the old plants are left at the stature for neighbors to take, and enjoy – awwwh. ____________________________ A warm thank you: My travels through the Basque Country were courtesy of Romo Tur (http://www.romotur.com/). The amazing folks at MedjetAssist (https://medjetassist.com) ensure that I take trips, not chances.
The tour of the Guggenheim Bilbao has as much information about the architecture as it does about the art inside. This museum is part art installation, part business development site. I was blown away by all of the detailing that Frank Gehry put into this structure. The fact that local workers made this museum with local materials is commendable and the idea to revitalize this city with art is now a phenomenon that other cities are trying to replicate; The Bilbao Effect.
Also, the city of Bilbao needs to be on your map in 2012. It’s a destination you can check out all on it’s own, with no need to even hit up any other city. 5 days in Bilbao would be an amazing trip filled with good food, art, tons of important and relevant architectural goodies, and a population of very trendy and friendly people. Get into it!
Bilbao is only a short bus ride away from San Sebastian and makes for a lovely day trip. I took a mid-morning bus to miss the crowds. When you get off at the Bilbao bus station, walk towards the subway station, but don't go into it. Instead, take the tram across the street. It will drop you off across the street from the Guggenheim.
Beautiful museum and Floral Dog! We arrived in Bilbao on a Sunday. So as Spain is a Roman Catholic nation, most of the shops and businesses were closed. So if you want to experience Bilbao fully, then visit any other day of week.
If the stars align, and you happen to be in Bilbao on the first Friday of the month, check out Art After Dark at the Guggenheim.
Once a month, the uber-modern, Frank Gehry building opens its doors as a nightclub. Art After Dark starts a bit early, around 10 pm, before most Spaniards go out (around midnight), so it's the perfect pre-party if you're from out of town.
Tickets are 12 euros; however, if you sign up for the Bilbao Guggenheim's email newsletter, they raffle off 2 each month. Drinks are a bit steep, but coat check is free. Perhaps bring a flask?
We originally hadn't planned on going to visit "The Gug," but newlywed friends of ours insisted we meet them there. It's not an off-the-beaten-path kind of place, but it was well worth the detour. the exhibits were amazing (and I thought the permanent collection was some of the best stuff), and just walking around the outside of the place was worth the drive. So much art.
The heart of the Basque Empire, Bilbao struggles to maintain an identity as a destination in Spain. Many travelers use the airport as their jump off spot for exploring the rest of Euskadi. Some hang around long enough to see the spectacular Guggenheim on the banks of the river Nervion. Plan a few days around town and get to know one of the best kept secrets in Europe. We stayed at the Hostal Begonia and would walk up to the Abando every morning joining locals for coffee and pinchos at the Cafe de Granja. Get your language skills tuned up. The selection of food and fresh squeezed juices complement the powerful espresso. Don't linger too long, you have a train to catch to the beach. Hop on Metro Line 2 and hit the necklace of beaches that ring the water. Stops at Bidezabal, Neguri, or way out to Plentzia provide easy access to sand and surf. Find your way back to town for that Guggenheim visit. The museum is a work of art and the installations and galleries are world-class. The river promenade is one of my favorite city runs, with beautiful views and great bridges. The Plaza Nueva is just across the river along with the old town area. There are great pedestrian only sections and the locals love to get out and stroll. Night life is varied and entertaining. So many wonderful bars and restaurants in this coastal town and the seafood is off the hook. Bilbao is a classic European city just under the radar. Great for visitors taking the plunge into its culture and environment.
Living in New York is though, specially when you come from a country like Spain and a city like Bilbao. We are well known for our way of living life and our food habits. When you visit Bilbao you can feel and taste it! get lost in the historic part of town and you will be able to eat the best pintxos and mingle with the locals. The bars are usually small, crowded and old but they know what they do. To drink ask for a txikito , a small red wine, or a zurito if you prefer beer.