Bilbao, Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ 2019

Date: 6-7th October 2019 

Travelled: 159 kms from Pamplona to Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain 

Visited: Bilbao  

Stayed: Private aire โ‚ฌ15 all services. N43.26025, W02.96401 

Budget: 121 days @ โ‚ฌ78 per day 

We serviced the Hymer early and rolled out of the aire straight into the service station next door. We fill the Hymer with diesel and the LPG system as well. We bid a sad goodbye to Pamplona we really enjoyed our couple of days here.

We travel north-west with the Pyrenees on our right into the Basque country.


Some road photos above. We actually had to use the wipers once or twice, the first time since Chaves in Portugal on the 7th August.

From time to time I still have thoughts of our first visit to Bilbao back in 2014. The city straddles Rio Nerviรณn for 14 kms as is passes through a narrow steep valley into the sea. It has a series of interconnected freeways running either side of the Rio at various heights (given the steep terrain). Using an old GPS we got lost here three times on our last visit and the thought of a wrong turn has me a little nervous.

We have no problems in 2019 and arrive at the aire without a problem. We pre-booked a site via email, in return we get a front row spot with a fabulous view.


Map of Bilbao, the icon on our parking spot 


We stopped in a car-park downtown during our last visit. This time we cough up โ‚ฌ15 and stay in a private aire. Bloody expensive by Spanish standards but itโ€˜s clean, with all the services and the bus stop is only 100m away. Did I mention the panoramic views of the city ?

So we jump the #58 (โ‚ฌ1.35 pp) to the city. Our mission today is to visit the Guggenheim. It was an all stops bus, so it took almost 30 minutes to the centro. Looking across the Rio Nerviรณn, on a drizzly afternoon.

We follow the river for a km or so looking for the Guggenheim.


Looks like we found it !
Finding the Guggenheim entrance is a lot more complex than finding the Guggenheim. It was behind this fancy flower pot. We booked the Guggenheim on-line yesterday (โ‚ฌ6 seniors PP). We are disappointed to find you cannot take photos.


This Warhol was the only piece we recognised.
There was a special Giorgio Morandiren Exhibition on during our visit. There are two large galleries of his work. The first gallery contained 25 paintings of that same grey bottle (on the left), but with a different coloured flower in each painting. The second gallery contained 25 paintings of these same objects, but the position of each object was changed. Talk about mind numbing !

We visited the Guggenheim in New York several years ago and really enjoyed it, but the Spanish version left us very disappointed. Anyway we find a little tapas bar and try the tortilla again and a couple of shared plates and a consolation drink before catching the 58 back to the Hymer.


As we have a ferry back to England tomorrow we start the day by getting a couple of housekeeping issues out of the way. We take the Hymer for a run to fill with cheap diesel (well cheaper than England) and the supermarket for some treats for the ferry.

Back at the aire we tidy up before walking to the bus stop and taking the #58 back to the city. Our guide book recommends walking the Casco Viejo (the old town). Thirty minutes later we wander into the labyrinth of old stone laneways that are the Casco Viejo.


Thought we were back in the Guggenheim.
More street art, makes more sense than painting the same vase 25 times.

Having wandered the old town for an hour, our thoughts turn to a final tapas bar before we say goodbye to Spain. The hardest thing is picking one out of so many. As usual we start with the tortilla and go on from there.

We enjoy a second quiet evening with a wonderful view of Bilbao. But we are up early, have a coffee and driving around to the service point in the dark (8 am) and do what needs to be done. Itโ€™s only a 30 minute drive to the port and we stop in a Lidl car-park just before the port and have a relaxing breakfast knowing we are only 5 minutes from the ferry.


We roll into the ferry queue on time and go through all the usual checks and inspection. They load perhaps half the cars and trucks when suddenly everything stops. 30 minutes later we are told an hydraulic ramp inside the ferry has failed and there will be a delay.

The ramp was eventually repaired and we loaded. Our ferry departed Bilbao 5 hours behind schedule. Whilst inconvenient it really made little difference to our plans in the UK. Soon after departing they announced that all the bistro meals would be free of charge as an apology. Bonus !

Spain, a quick summary

We spent 34 days in Spain, driving 3159 kms, staying in 24 different locations. Whilst diesel is cheaper and food less expensive than England and Ireland, our daily costs expenses only reduced by a couple of Euros during the period. Ending up on expensive tollways didnโ€™t help. We certainly ate out more often than usual, we love the tapas. We had some unhappy experiences during our last tour through Spain in 2014. I suppose we are now more experienced and careful about where we park and stay, hence we always felt safe and reasonably confident the Hymer would be as we left it.


Michael and Pam


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