After an overnight aboard we had an early start. I had arranged a tour to San Sebastián, a largish city down the coast, near the border with France. Good beaches, the summer home of a 1800’s Spanish Queen (Maria?), and this has been a long time vacation destination. Today know for great food, Europe’s second-largest film festival (next week), and easy access with flights to/from most European hubs.
The tour was with Zach, a Detroit native who has lived in the region with his Basque wife for the last eight years. And we were joined by two other couples from the ship. We went first to San Sebastián, about 1.5 hours on a good highway. Then some walking within the city, back to the van for a drive along the coast with a couple stops in coastal towns. Back to the ship with time to spare before the 4:30pm all-aboard. A long day with quite a bit of driving, but the beautiful countryside made the ride itself quite pleasant.
Cruise ships don’t actually dock in Bilbao but rather in the nearby industrial port city of Getxo. We opted to take the Celebrity shuttle bus to near the city center. From the shuttle it was a short walk to the Guggenheim Museum, our primary destination. Chilly, grey, off-and-on showers, but still bearable conditions. When we reached the museum there was a very long line to buy tickets! I had cleverly done an online ticket purchase, but the left-side “purchase now” line had merged with the right-hand “advance purchase” line. Eventually, about 10-15 minutes, I wandered down the steps to see what was happening. Aha! Everybody was to the right side to get under an overhang out of the rain! We proceeded past and through the masses and entered via the advance purchase door. Showed the helpful lady the pdf receipt on my iPad showing our purchase. She pointed out that we were in Bilbao and our tickets were for the NYC Guggenheim. Oops! She gave us a A for effort and sold us an entry right then & there, so we did avoid the line.
The museum is awesome. Sparsely populated with art, but the structure is worth the trip!
After time in the museum we snacked in the Cafe, bought a couple items in the store, took the tram to the old city center, walked a bit, sampled a local wine, then back via tram to walking distance from the shuttle stop. A long day!