No matter where you travel, there’s always another great destination just beyond your reach. You find yourself trying to extend the geographic range of your trip beyond what is possible. It always happens. As we planned our trip to the Asturias region in Spain, a destination several hours drive to the east, Bilbao, was “just too far away.” Was it really worth a precious day of vacation to detour over there to visit a modern art museum? We compromised. Bilbao went on the schedule as option for our last day. We could decide then if we wanted to fit it in.
Our trip to Spain was one of hiking, leisurely walking, and a bit of cycling — very active. By our last day, predicted to be overcast and rainy, we looked forward to something less active. So, a drive to Bilbao looked like a good option.
Our destination was the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, one of the most important works of 20th century architecture. The building was designed by Frank Gehry and opened in 1997. Definitely a place to visit, we all agreed. We parked in the city and walked down lively shopping streets towards the river. In the distance was a massive and brightly colored object. “Puppy” by Jeff Koons is the iconic watchdog, greeting visitors as they approach the Museum. It’s hard not to stop and admire “Puppy” and the untold number of flowering plants that encase him. Only then do visitors continue to the entrance, trying to take in the complexity of the exterior before them. The building definitely has a huge “wow” factor. The materials, space, and colors all work beautifully together. We proceeded slowly, exploring as we went. The building presented many surprises, inside and out. Many spaces were designed for particular art installations. The art and architecture work as one – and each is better as a result. It is an important space and exhilarating to experience. The commitment to build a new Museum had obviously extended to an area beyond its walls. The terrace overlooking the water was a colorful space, featuring another Jeff Koons’ work, “Tulips”, and a view of one of the most fantastic bridges we’ve ever seen.
Seriously, the architecture alone was worth the trip, but it was our good fortune that the Museum’s display at the time of our visit was of Anish Kapoor’s work. We were all captivated by his work, which is always intellectually interesting and multilayered.
We took a break for lunch at the museum café and dined outside under umbrellas. The rain was gently coming down. We were all thankful we’d decided to take the rainy day trip to Bilboa. It was definitely worth extending our geographic range.