Walking without a donkey 7: Bilbao



I took a Bla Bla Car from Oviedo to Bilbao. It’s a fantastic Spanish system where people advertise their upcoming car journeys on a special website, stating how many places they have free, and how much it costs. Then people who want a ride, book in.

To be honest the first half of the journey was a bit miserable. I sat in the back, a second, male passenger chatted to the driver in rapid Spanish, and neither of them addressed a single word to me. But then others joined us,  including a woman who had just attended the birth of her first grandchild. She told me all about it and showed me the photos. She was off to work in a hotel in Bilbao and asked me where I was sleeping. She looked up the place I said I had in mind because she was concerned about me. They were full, so she looked up another, phoned them to confirm my bed, looked up the route, and then came halfway across the city with me on the metro before sending me off in the right direction.

After receiving such kindness from this unknown person, I found my way to the first hostel I had stayed in in Spain, and it was characterless, clean, and warm, with a ‘great’ view (see above)!

The next morning I met a girl with smart new boots. She explained that she bought them to treat herself, after becoming injured on the Camino, and then being unable to continue. Maybe I thought then that I might put off starting. I’m not sure.

I teamed up with 2 backpackers: Athene from East Sussex, and Jonathan, a Chinese man living in Vancouver, and we walked into the city.

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It was extremely hot and sunny, and my rucksack was seriously heavy, but the time passed with interesting conversation – the most English I had spoken for a few weeks. The city along the river Nervión is stunning.


I was here to visit the Guggenheim Museum and it didn’t disappoint.


Plus I love the sculptures of Louise Bourgeois, and so it was fantastic to see one of her mother spiders in such a glorious setting.


I also appreciated Anish Kapoor’s Tall Tree and the Eye.


The free wifi was useful, I said goodbye to my companion, and walked to the nearby Museo de Bellas Artes, (Museums of Fine Arts), where I had a welcome cold beer amongst the well-dressed arty sorts.


I didn’t stay long, but couldn’t resist snapping this: it reads Escozia la Brava, (Scotland the Brave!)



Walking without a donkey 5: Aviles 


A middle sized city, Avilés is between Salinas on the northern coast of Spain, and Oviedo the capital of the Asturias region. It’s a national seaport with a significant industrial area.

I began by wandering around the city, choosing my way as places attracted me, and discovering green spaces between busy shopping streets.

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Ferrera Park

Then I happened across the Avilés estuary, beside residential properties and independent retailers.

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And, on the opposite bank, the rather futuristic arts centre.

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Centro Niemeyer

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Along the Ruta del Acero are a series of sculptures made out of industrial materials found during the modernisation of the area.

There were many men and women walking along this Ruta, many in sports gear. I first noticed just how many Spanish people engage in outdoor sports when I was in Salinas, but then saw this everywhere I went, up and down the country (especially walking and cycling).

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As the sun started to set, the water and crossing structures were shown to an attractive advantage.

Well worth the time, the walks on both sides are very interesting and there are even public toilets if needed!

I wound my way back to the câfé, past a red-brick building with shop and graffiti.

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I was able to make a phone call and write my journal there because like most Spanish bars, you can sit for quite a while, using their wifi and only drinking one beer. Here I was once again given free tapas.

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