Bilbao, Spain

We can’t seem to leave Spain and the adventure continues to Bilbao, the largest city in northern Spain, otherwise known as the Basque Country on the shores of the Bay of Biscay. There are two official languages here, Castillano (Spanish) and Basque. The Basque language is unrelated to any other existing language spoken today and sounds absolutely nothing like Spanish. Home to the world famous Guggenheim Museum which houses 19 different art galleries and is a marvel to behold, Bilbao is both ancient and modern all at the same time. Casco Viejo is Bilbao’s medieval district that will have you marveling at traditional Basque architecture, and tempt you with many bars, restaurants and cafes along the way.

Bilbao is also famous for its night life being the biggest city in the region. You’ll want to do as the Basque do while in Bilbao which means one must eat Pixtos (Basque Tapas), which is how all of the locals socialize while enjoying delicious food going from bar to bar. Another must visit place is The Cathedral of Santiago (Saint James) at the heart of Casco Viejo. The cathedral serves as a stop for pilgrims trekking the northern Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) which is called so because it’s along this route that Saint James evangelized the north of Spain.

To get a bird’s eye view of the Bilbao, take the Funicular up Mount Artxanda to understand why the locals refer to Bilbao as “The Botxo” or “The Hole” due to it being completely surrounded by mountains. If it’s shopping you’re there for then look no further than the Gran Via where you will find every high fashion and name brand store your heart desires and end up in Plaza Moyua to rest for bit while you shop. If that isn’t enough shopping for you then take a visit to Europe’s largest indoor market, Mercado de la Ribera should be the medicine you need.

Right next to the market is San Anton Bridge the oldest bridge in the city which is conjoined tothe Church of San Antonwhich just so happens to be on the cities coat of arms. If none of the above suits your fancy or you feel like seeing more of Bilbao it would be good to visit Bibao’s largest green space and favorite outdoor destination, Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park. Created more than 100 years ago this magnificent public park has an English style garden, duck pond, water fountains, statues and more for you to enjoy as you stroll through nature away from the noise of the city around you. There are many museums to explore throughout the city, but a must see is Museo de Bellas Artes, one of the finest Museums in all of Spain where you will find works from some of the greatest artists of all time.

If you are looking for a serious adventure, then you will want to take one of Bilbao’s whale watching tours in the Bay of Biscay where you will see razorback whales, long-finned pilot whales and dolphins. And if you are a fan of Game of Thrones or just want to see raw beauty at its finest take a drive 35KM (22 Miles) east from Bilbao to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. The island can be reached via a man-made stone bridge that connects 241 steps to the top of the hill that juts out into the ocean. When you reach the small church at the top it is tradition to ring the bell three times and make a wish, and taking lots of pictures will be good too. Lastly, at least for this post, you can Kayak down the Nervion river through the center of Bilbao to see the city from a different perspective, and get a workout while you’re at it. Perhaps Bilbao is your next destination? If so you won’t regret it.

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