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Bilbao city itself is a thriving destination; its post-industrialist make-up meaning, while the port business has dwindled, it has reinvented itself as cultural melting pot of music, art, architecture and gastronomic delight. The Guggenheim, sitting proudly in the centre of town, is one of the city’s chief attractions, and rightly so. Standing like a towering combination of shining silver shells, its design – by Frank Gehry – is a wondrous spectacle of its own, with Jeff Koons’ giant floral Puppy standing at the front (it was meant to be a temporary piece but was liked so much it has become a permanent entrance welcome)

This level of wonder is kept through the impressive myriad of rooms and levels inside that take in everything from world-renowned artists such as David Hockney and Willem De Kooning, to local Basque talent - the star-studded L’Art En Guerre show last summer was a particular stunner that took two afternoons of my time to take in. Big shows this year include none other than Yoko Ono’s Half-A-Wind, a multi-disciplinary retrospective incorporating more than 200 pieces taking in everything from films, paintings, photos, installations and documented performances, illustrating this most diverse of artists.

Hopping on the subway for a couple of stops out of town one afternoon, I took in one of the most impressive structures the city has to boast, yet one that is too infrequently visited. Jumping off the Metro before making my way through a rabbit warren of houses and apartments I walked out onto the river side where the towering Vizcaya Bridge stands. A suspension bridge dating back to 1893, it is one of the earliest of its kind - and one that is still in operation today - and holds the lofty accolade of being designed by Alberto Palacio, a protégé of Gustave Eiffel (yes he of many-a famous Parisian photo op).

It runs across the Nervion River every eight minutes and has a lift on either side allowing you to stroll across its 164m width at a height of 50m. However, although the views of the city, the port and coast are breathtaking, its minimal design means it is not for those prone to the odd moment of vertigo (like myself), who might quickly find themselves grabbing the arm rails for some semblance of comfort. (They offered little, much to the amusement of locals showing out-of-town family their proud heritage.)


Basque in BBK glory this summer
Digital Mag

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