Escaping to PintxoLand: Bilbao/ San Sebastian

We got our first pay check so we took our three day weekend.  All of us wanted to say hi to ocean and gorge on pintxos!

The main goals of this trip:

  • See the Guggenheim
  • Eat so many pintxos
  • See the ocean

We accomplished all of these!

Bilbao

We took a 4 hour bus from Madrid to Bilbao.  We stayed in Pil Pil Hostel.  It’s one of the nicest hostels I’ve stayed in.  It was clean, the room was large and the beds were comfortable with spacious lockers.  Only issue I had with the hostel was they closed down their patio at 8 PM and their common area at midnight.  Most of the hostels I’ve stayed at don’t close their common areas unless to clean for an hour or so.  The staff had good advice for sightseeing but were a little rude in terms of people hanging out in the common areas.

Bilbao1

 

  • The Guggenheim has an amazing exterior with incredible sculptures and the building morphs as you walk all the way around.
  • It was about 7 euros with a student ID
  • 13 euros without a student ID
  • An audioguide is included.  The explanations are a little lengthy but definitely help you appreciate the art a lot more.
  • the permanent exhibits are phenomenal.  The Guggenheim created so much space to allow these artists to create massive pieces of interactive art. There was a room of mazes, a small city and a room of dimly lit photos.  These rooms immersed the viewer in the artists’ vision.

Bilbao3

For example, one piece was a hollowed out and glazed log.  From the untrained eye it looked like someone had carved through the core of the tree randomly.  however the design is actually an upside down map of China with Taiwan included.  this is meant to be a commentary on the Chinese government and their corruption at their core.

After that we made burritos in the hostel and along with new friends played various drinking games in the hostel.  Then later we went out.  The nightlife was underwhelming.  Everything was crowded, dirty and generic.  We went home early to prepare for San Sebastian.

San Sebastian

We took a one hour bus to San Sebastian.  I got a little motion sick from windy roads. Once we got to San Sebastian we were impressed with the architecture and greenery.  It was far more beautiful than we had imagined. The busy traffic on the main street had a big city vibe but the small town squares give a intimate ambiance to the cityscape.

SanSebastian1

First thing we did was to eat pintxos.  How it works is: there is a buffet of various pintxos, you put what you want on a plate and they add it up.  The pintxos were between 2-5 euros.  The main pintxos for vegetarians were tortilla (egg and potato), sauteed mushrooms in a pie cup, or just bread & cheese.

 

sansebastain1SanSebastian2

 

After stuffing our faces at about 4 different restaurants, we went to the beach for a moment.  However it began to rain and the wind picked up. We hid inside and drank tea.  Finally, we braved the wind and rain to walk around the beach.  There were quite a few surfers riding the waves in the freezing weather.

sansebastain3

Then we went back to Bilbao.

Bilbao

The next day, we slept in and walked around Bilbao.  There were lovely parks and shops however it was quite underwhelming when compared to Madrid and San Sebastian. We took a BlaBlaCar back to Madrid.  It worked out great.

Conclusion

I needed to get out of the city to remember why I put up with all the drama of job hunting, apartment hunting, and visa paperwork.  I was greeted by screaming children early on Tuesday but it will be worth it when I get to see lots of Europe.

Trips soon to come:

Weekend in London

Backpacking Poland, Hungary & Berlin

Istanbul

I have a lot of planning and saving to do.  Until then I’ll be pinching pennies and teaching pre-school.

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