Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Continued from Morning walkabout, Casco Viejo

From Casco Viejo, we crossed the bridge, carried on walking, looking at shops, restaurants and cafes, until we reached Alhóndiga.

Now, what can I say about Alhóndiga?

The first thing that strikes you when you enter is the space and the darkness. A modern cavern. It's so huge that even with 1,000 people there, it will look empty. And there were, I'm sure, fewer than a thousand. Short, squat pillars, each of them different, support this former wine warehouse. One shudders to think of the amount of wine stored here! In one corner, some aliens, face glowing, sit on lighted boxes, alone with their mobile devices (there's free wi-fi); nearby, potential business partners discuss possible projects; illicit lovers speak in hushed tones... Occasionally, a kid screams, a security guard silently walks by...

Alhondiga, Bilbao
Free wi-fi
As you trudge among the fat pillars, you might hear indiscernible voices coming from hidden corners; you might catch shadows moving in a liquid sky above you...

Alhondiga, Bilbao
Artistic pillars
Climb up the stairs and you may find a large library all to yourself, or find yourself alone in a spacious exhibition hall... All very surrealistic.

Alhondiga, Bilbao
An exhibition of space
Right at the top, there is a fitness centre and a restaurant; somewhere in between, there are also cinemas... You may perhaps find something to buy in one of these empty shops...

Alhondiga, Bilbao
Empty shops
After our surrealistic experience, we stretched our legs again, walking towards and around La Catedral, and I'm not referring to the church but to the new San Mamés football stadium. They're putting the finishing touches to it, and when totally completed, it will have a capacity of just over 53,000.

San Mames football stadium, Bilbao
The new San Mamés football stadium
This is a prime example of how photographic skills can make something more attractive than what it looks like in real life ;)

From the stadium, we walked past what looked like a nice park, El Jardín de Misericordia (Misericordia has got nothing to do with misery as I'd originally thought but means compassion, mercy, clemency). If my legs had had more energy and there had been more time, I'd have gone in. Check it out, if you're around that area. Apparently, here lies the reason why Athletic de Bilbao football players are called the Lions. Read about it here.

From there, we sauntered across town, breathed some oxygen in the small Jardines de Albia, and sussed out the restaurants along Colón de Larreátegui Kalea. Of course, everyone knows about Café Iruña, but the others beside it stocked some really delicious-looking pintxos.

We knew where we'd be for dinner!