A Red Bus and the Guggenheim Museum

September 22, 2017 - Puente Viesgo, Spain

Horror of horrors. Today had the temerity to rain on our parade. It looked like it would last most of the day but only as light showers.

We decided today would be a day for the Big Red Bus and the Guggenheim Musem so after a late breakfast we walked through the park along the river side to the museum to find the bus stop. When we reached the foot of the stairs beside the Guggenheim there was a busker with four marionettes. One, I think was an automaton, playing an accordion, there were two others sitting and there was background music as he operated one marionette playing the violin. He was very good and Margaret rattled his tin for him. As we ascended the stairs we could hear the sound of castanets but not in any Spanish rhythm and wondered what it was. At the top of the stairs there were two buskers, each under a cloth and holding a clapper that looked like a dog with sunglasses. To my eye at least, they were Afghans. As people approached the sound of the clappers increased in frequency until they convinced the person to make an offering at which time they stopped and bowed their heads gracefully to the ground. There were not many people that did not grin at their antics so I think they were doing very well.

Nearby was the Big Red Bus and we stumped up the cash for a 24-hour ticket and climbed up to the top deck. Today there was a canvas cover in place to keep off the rain. I wonder how often that is in place. When we returned the hire car in Toledo and told them we were off to Bilbao the immediate response was it is cold and it always rains. We will see!

The first thing we noticed was that there were no headphones on this bus, just speakers. Margaret went down to ask and was told there would be commentary in Spanish, French and English. We hoped that the sound would be better than most PA systems. In fact the sound quality was fine and the automated commentary worked in fairly well with the sites and sights that we passed. The bus went through some of the main Plazas of the city and over the river to the Old City and we wiggled our way through the traffic. Much easier from up here.

We completed the full circuit, finishing at the Guggenheim again without having to move seats on the bus. Several other passengers had to move because of holes in the canvas roof that turned in to small torrents as the bus lurched from side to side.

So, the famous Guggenheim external architecture by Gehry and the sculpture of 'Puppy' sitting outside was the first photo call before stumbling down the steps to the entrance where we joined the queue and gradually made our way inside out of the very slight drizzle that occasionally made it's presence known.

Inside the architecture is full of rising curves and glass panels reflecting light around and was probably the only part I really appreciated. Margaret did find some of the Modern Art to her taste but to me it had no impact at all.

After what was for us a relatively quick visit we left. Outside we were once again greeted by the sound of the Áfghan's castanets. Margaret sent them into a frenzy by putting money in their bucket, after which they bowed low to her and then mugged for the camera.

We felt then that we had seen enough for the day and walked back along the river to the hotel where we stood on the balcony and watched the antics of dogs out for their afternoon walk before we took a little siesta.

Tonight we decided that Pintxos (basque version of Tapas) and a beer or two would be enough for dinner. Our waiter seemed a bit offhand to begin with but took me over to show me the Pintxos that were without garlic (sin ajillo) and I ended up with 8 selections for us to share. Like the Pintxos bar in Malaga they were all on bread but were all heated before serving. Plenty for us.


'Puppy' outside the Guggenheim
'Tulips' reflected in the glass of the Guggenheim
The 'Afghans' clattered away
The 'Afghans' mugging for the camera
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