Travel Notes 03: Drift

Travel Notes 03 – A series of daily entries about being abroad for 60 days

An unusual enjoyment I have learnt to cultivate is taking a train to somewhere unfamiliar and exploring. This is fun in my own city; it’s doubly entertaining doing this overseas. The Bilbao Bizkaia card which offers unlimited public transport was super useful for this means and I hopped onto the red line and headed north of Bilbao, towards the ocean.

Stepping off at Arrete, I walked towards the sea, charmed by this beautiful park that juts out into the water like a thermometer. There are so many examples of parks and green spaces in otherwise unusual spaces that it makes me envious of the landscaping profile (or comparative lack of) back home. At the end of this park were three fisherman, boisterous in their conversation but wearing an air of content as their lines drifted with the current blowing out to the ocean.

I walked for hours around the coast joined by many people, young and old. It’s a sauntering city and the people and for a Wednesday morning, overcast and almost certain to rain; it’s more than I expect. I pass by boats, beach, lighthouse and mansions built on a hill a century ago. I even pass by coloured rocks and ascend a steep cliffside to get to Getxo, before transporting myself to Portulagete and experiencing the Vizcaya Bridge. It’s a marvellous feat of engineering, a UNESCO world heritage site and a transporter bridge still in operation 120 years after it was built.

Towards 3, I meander through the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, which features some brilliant bronze and marble sculptures and classical pieces but suffers because of how much walking I have done and how much the Guggenheim has seeded into my mind. I have an espresso, read in the park and let the afternoon wash away.

Later still, I walk through the narrow streets of the Old Neighbourhood of Casco Viejo, shaped like a heart veined by cobbled alleys and corners. This part of Bilbao is decidedly more old world and historic in its multitude of coloured terraces, wrought iron, faded paint and staircases that snake up and down shifting elevations. Plaza Barria offers a nice quadrilateral open area to sit, observe and watch people walk and play amongst the geometry of this civic space.

Charm is at full volume tonight. Bilbao’s soundtrack amplifies; the chorus sounds again.

Notes from Wednesday, October 4, 2016