Tuesday August 16

I woke up, got dressed and headed out to find the Orange store to find out why my French sim card wouldn't work.  It was about a 5 minute walk, and because I had downloaded an offline map with GPS it was a breeze to find.  After 15 minutes and a new sim card purchased for one week in spain I was back in business. I headed to the tourist office to find out about how and where I can get to Bilbao this week to go to the Guggenheim Museum.

I had wanted to visit the Guggenheim for years, and it was only an hour and a half away.  I looked through all the brochures on the walls, then went up to a vacant customer service person and she printed out the bus schedules for tomorrow and gave me a great map of San Sebastian which helped me orient myself.  It is really easy to get around once you have a map in your head. 

I went across the street to get a coffee and a couple croissants, by that time it was about 12:30 and I decided I would go today, because the museum stays open until 8:00pm.  I walked for about 15 minutes to the bus station under the main train station and bought a ticket- the first bus that had seats was at 3:10pm, and I bought a return ticket for 8:30pm.  I went into a café at the station and had a beer and a couple of tapas, and bought a small bottle of water.  I left the station and walked back towards the ocean for about 20 minutes, made a left and headed back.  It was still too early so I sat in the park on a bench and people watched for a while.  It was still too early so back for another beer and a seat inside the café, until the bus finally arrived. There were several different bus lines going to Bilbao around the same time, so I found out it was important to look at my ticket to figure out which bus to get on.

I got on the bus and we headed out over mountains and to the city of Bilbao.  It is a gorgeous stately city and I enjoyed looking out the window during my bus ride to the museum.  This was a deluxe bus and they offered us several treats, handed out ear buds and had internet, comfy seats, movies and TV series in Spanish.  I had a man sitting next to me who slept the entire way.  I had a young girl who was texting and watching some princess movie on the other side.  We got to the bus station at Bilbao and I found a taxi quickly.  It was about a $5EU taxi ride to the museum.  What I saw of Bilbao was pretty nice, except the bus station which was pretty old and disgusting.  OK to sit and wait, but I wouldn't eat in the little cafeteria there- and fortunately I was not remotely hungry.  I hopped out and took some photos of the enormous, flower covered cat in front of the museum and of the building itself with is pretty awesome.

I walked down a zillion wide steps to get into the entrance, then waited in a short line to get my ticket and the audio narrative gadget.  There was a sign that asked you to start your tour by watching a video, but I lasted about 3 minutes and decided not to waste my time, but just do it.  I walked first around the ground floor, and saw the Andy Warhol exhibit Shadows.  They even had a room you could take pix with your shadow.  Although the signs said no photos, everyone had their phones out and the guards didn't seem to care.  I went into another area that had a really cool electronic sculpture that took up an entire room and consisted of neon signs like you see on the freeway except vertical with words running up them.  You could walk between the uprights and see it from the back side, and watching people walk through was like watching someone walk into a movie.  You can also see it from a balcony on the 2nd floor.  Really cool, hope I took a picture of the artist's name so I don't have to google it.

I took the elevator up to the 2nd floor and happened upon a large scale (several large rooms ) temporary exhibit by _____________  .  These were for the most part sculptural pieces inside cages, inside structures and used textiles and other materials to express emotions.  One whole room was dedicated to depression and isolation, another room the artists feelings about her parents, and other sculptural pieces that were part of her portfolio.  She was in her mid 90s when she died- and this was a very large exhibition that took up most if not all of the second floor.  I looked down and saw the Richard Serra Sculptures from above.  I had missed these massive metal pieces on the ground floor, so I took the elevator back down stairs.  I wanted to see these before I left, and I was running out of time.  I probably could have spent at least an hour in that room alone, but the clock was ticking. 

I walked through the gift shop and just didn't see anything I couldn't live without, so I used the ladie's room downstairs then walked up the stairs and out the door to the café attached to the museum.  I had a half hour or so before I had to catch a taxi so I had a Spanish ham & cheese sandwich and a glass of Mumm's champagne.

After finishing that I hopped in a cab across the street and went back to the bus station.  Of course I was at least an hour early (i'm always early) so I sat in different places and looked at facebook, and people watched.  Finally the bus came and I got on it, this time sitting in a window seat next to a guy in his 20s who talked on his phone the entire way back.  It poured down rain on our way out of Bilbao but stopped by the time we got back to Donostia. I got off the bus pretty quick, it was a little after 10pm, and headed across the bridge to the city center, following lots of people towards the water and the old part of town where I was staying, and where most of the activities for the festival are taking place.  I walked up and down looking in bars serving the pinxtas (tapas) but just didn't have the energy and the hunger after eating so much earlier, so I went back to the B&B about 10:30.

The hostess knocked on my bedroom door when the fireworks started, and I stood out on her balcony to watch and take photos.  It was quite a spectacle and she has a primo view of the entire city above the rooftops. 

After I went to bed and promised her, and myself that I would stay out, and up for the fireworks tomorrow night.


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