El blog de Jaizki

19 junio 2006

Visiting Biscay

This post is the translation of the previous one Visitando Vizcaya, written in Spanish. It is dedicated to Josef, Ingrid, Tobias and Tanja.

When still working for Siemens I had the opportunity of working with Josef, another Siemens employee that was responsible for the international relationship with one of my customers in Spain. I encouraged him to visit Biscay and he has done it. Last Sunday he arrived with his wonderful family, his wife Ingrid, and his son and daughter, Tobias and Tanja.

In this post I want to take note of all the different places we visited during the three days they spent here. I want them to have all the information about their visit in a single site. Apart from that, I want this post to show that there are much more things to do in Biscay than visiting the Guggeheim Museum.

Note: for every place for which I have been able to find pictures in flickr I have included a link to a search there.

On Sunday I met them at the hotel at 14:00 and I took them for lunch to Café Iruña (pictures). This bar was opened in 1903 and it is well known for its Mudejar décor and polychromed ceilings. It has a good quality weekend menu at a very reasonable price. For lunch we ordered one of each of the starters so they could taste them all.

After lunch, we headed Pozalagua Caves, the most important caves world wide considering the amount of helictites on them. I decided to use the coast highway to Colindres exit, it is a longer journey in kilometres but it takes less time. From the caves we went to Loizaga Tower, only opened on Sundays. This tower is famous for housing a unique Rolls-Royce collection, is the only one that includes every single Rolls-Royce model until the firm was bought by BMW in 1998. Unfortunately, getting there took longer that I had expected and we found it already closed.

From there, we went to Pobal Ironworks, and as it was already closed we have a look around. Originally built in the sixteenth century, after many changes trough the centuries, they closed in 1965. It has been recently restored and prepared for tourist visits.

After leaving the ironworks we headed La Arboleda (pictures), a very beautiful mining town that has inherit from the mines time some magnificent lakes that cover the old opencast mines.

Going downhill from La Arboleada to Trapaga Valley, there is a viewpoint from which you have a wonderful view of the Ría Bilbao and the towns that lay at both sides of the river. There we stopped before continuing our way to Bilbao.

As we arrive to Bilbao quite late, we found all the pintxos bars closed, so we had to change our plan of a pintxos dinner for some bocadillos (a kind of sandwich with French baguette bread) in the K2, in Somera, 10, in the Old Town. A very convenient place for its opening hours.

Quite tired by that time, I gave Josef and his family a ride to the hotel. We decided that they would use Monday morning for shopping in Bilbao main street (Gran Via) and they would meet me in Moyua Square at 14:00.

From Moyua Square I did two things. First, showing them the Montero House (pictures) by Luis Aladrén, located in the fist section of Alameda Recalde from Moyua Square to La Salve Bridge. This house design reminds those by Gaudí. Second, demonstrating the reason because of which Bilbao is known as "el bocho" –the hole–, from Moyua Square is very easy to realize that no matter which direction you look at, there is a mountain not very far.

Next thing we did was going to Diputación Street to have lunch outside in La Olla bar terrace. I chose three different plates: cured meats (lomo, salchichón, chorizo and Spanish ham), octopus Galician style and anchovies macerated in vinegar and served in olive oil. I guess that octopus was too much, but cured meats succeeded. As desert we had every single king of cakes that they had left, it was for Spanish cuisine studying purposes only.

From there we crossed Zubi Zuri (pictures) bridge –also known as Calatrava Footbridge– and we went uphill to Artxanda in the funicular train (pictures). Unfortunately, they were repairing the viewpoint and we missed the magnificent views available from there, instead we had a look to Bilbao from the road under. We also had a look to the other side of the mountain, were you can see the Loiu Airport (pictures) and the Technology Park.

We went downhill again in the funicular train and through Campo Volantín we arrived to the Old Town where, we took Begoña Elevator (pictures) to visit the magnificent Basilica of Begoña (pictures).

When leaving the basilica we took the tube to Areeta station in Getxo. From there we went to Portugalete Bridge (fotos). And we crossed in it to get to Portugalete and to visit the Basilica of Santa María.

RENFE short distance train was the way to get back to Abando station (pictures) in Bilbao. My intention was explaining the impressive stained-glass window that welcomes everyone arriving to this station in train, but it had been taken away for cleaning. There was only a very bad picture that I had to use to explain the meaning of each part of the stained-glass window.

This time, being still early, we went for pintxos dinner to the Old Town. We started at Boulevard (pictures), opened in 1871 and famous for its tertulias (café get-togethers), as well as for its impressive art-décor look from the year 1929. The next bars we chose to complete dinner were Irrintzi and Gatz, in Santa María Street. Both are known for their tasty pintxos, but Irrintzi is also known for having the most innovative pintxos around. I took them to the end of Santa María Street, to see the Basilica of Begoña from the only place in the Old Town from which it can be seen.

Before going back to bed, there was another public transportation to try out, Euskotran, the tram (pictures). We went from Arriaga Station to Basurto Station, and from there back to Uribitarte Station. There we said goodbye until the next day, they went to the hotel and I ran as fast as I could not to loose the last tube home. When I arrived to the tube station I found out that there was service for a few minutes more that I thought.

Tuesday morning I picked them up at the hotel at 11:000. We left Bilbao through Santo Doming heading Zamudio. From Santo Domingo we had another view of the city from the above. In Zamudio we did a very quick visit to the Tecnology Park and we took Munguía road to get to Bakio. We stopped a few minutes in Bakio to have a look at the beach (pictures) and continued to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (pictures). My good luck kept showing and we found the access closed due to some repairing that was going over.

From there we crossed Bermeo (pictures) on our way to the viewpoint of La Ría de Mundaka, where we did a shot stop. Mundaka beach is well known among surfers for its left tide, one of the best of the world.

Next stop was Gernika, were I show them the tree (pictures) and the asembly house (pictures).

For lunch we had a menu of the day in Gernika and we left for the next point in the tour, Oma Forest (pictures). A forest with painted trees with different figures that can only be seen completely from specific points of the forest, and that was created by Agustín Ibarrola. The access road by car is in bad condition so it is recommended to take it easy and spend a couple of hours to go there walking.

Next point in the agenda was Donostia-San Sebastián, as views are much better I decided to use the coastal road, the good point was that the we crossed very beautiful places like Lekeitio (pictures) y Ondarroa (pictures), the bad point is that it took much more than an hour.

In San Sebastián we met a former collage of mine in Siemens, Josemari, and we started visiting the Comb of the Winds (pictures). After having a drink there, we went to the city centre for having a pintxos dinner.

After the first bar, where a squid pintxo did not succeed among the youngsters, Josemari complained about me not having taken them to eat chuletón -a typical Basque Country T-bone steak-, to solve that we went to La Txuleta in the Old Town. As chuletones where served with salad only, we asked for a plate of French fries and another one of fried green peppers.

Although our German friends appeared to have serious problems to ingest more food –it is clear to me that before going out for dinner with specialists you should train yourself-, I decided to order a panchineta –a kind of cake– to share. It is true that I had to help them, but we left nothing.

Next step was a walk around La Concha Beach (fotos). There we had a coffee, I was in real need of another one to be awake during the ride back to Bilbao. I decided to enter Bilbao through Enekuri to let them view the city from the top of another of the mountains that surround it.

And this was the end of this three day visit to Biscay and a little bit of Guipuzcoa. For sure, there are plenty of places left for the next time they decide to visit me. Anyway, I really believe that it is demonstrated with no doubt that Biscay is much more than the Guggenheim Museum. As a matter of fact, Josef and his family could only have a look at it the morning I left them free to go shopping.

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2 comentarios:

  • Very nice post, Jaizki.
    A perfect tour guide.

    Por Blogger ignazio. Fecha y hora: 19/6/06 15:07  

  • Thanks Ignazio, if you ever need a guide let me know, I have really affordable fares. ;)

    Por Anonymous Jaizki. Fecha y hora: 19/6/06 15:45  

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