Bilbao, Basque Country
Bilbao is home of the Guggenheim museum, designed by famed architect Frank Gehry. The city is also renowned for its Michelin-star restaurants, but $150 for a "tasting" lunch (per person) was hard to rationalize. So we spent a very wet, rainy morning ogling the Francis Bacon exhibition, which showcased 50 of his abstractionist works alongside the works of the artists who inspired him at various periods of his life, such as Picasso, El Greco, Alberto Giacometti and Velázquez. Seeing the artwork that inspired Bacon was helpful in understanding his dramatic shifts in style, although all his paintings have a morbid darkness to them. Photography is not allowed in the exhibit areas, unfortunately, but the Guggenheim architecture itself is photogenic.
There are several city parks nearby the Guggenheim. The city is incredibly easy to get around, either on foot or via metro. From the museum, we crossed a walkway bridge over to the opposite side of the Ria del Nervion river and followed the riverbank trail to City Hall. We chose an aggressive hiking path up to Parque del Funicular, which provided us a fantastic bird's eye view of Bilbao! There is also a tram to the top, but hiking is more fun (IMO!).
A trip to Bilbao is incomplete without stuffing your face full of pinxtos. Once the city arose from its afternoon siesta and the sun sank below the horizon, we headed to one of the local eating markets and enjoyed the spread!