8th July 2010. Last Monday we decided to make a foray into Spain - along the northern coast between Bilbao and Santander - aiming for a place called Laredo. We took the new motorway (a combination of the E-70 & the A-8) - a spectacular and, no doubt, expensive road that threaded its way left and right through and around the tree-covered crumpled hills and jagged mountains. Cutting through contorted layers of stratified rock that were, in places, near the vertical, the road passed through innumerable cuttings and tunnels and over some impressive bridges and viaducts. The severely folded landscape left precious little room in the valley floors for expansion in an outward direction and therefore the cramped towns and villages had to resort to making extensive use of apartment tower blocks - which looked slightly incongruous. The road itself was a continuous series of curves and bends and it was hardly possible to take my eyes off the road ahead. I drove at ~100kph despite the speed limit being 120kph which, given the twisty nature of the road, seemed a little optimistic.
If ever there is an international competition for the town or city where the planning process has clearly broken down and the result is a complete eyesore, then Bilbao would be an odds-on 'cert' to reach at least the semi-finals. This (below) is the Bilbao Exhibition Centre and the photo doesn't reveal its true awfulness.. It looks rather like one of those regional logistical depots for a major supermarket chain.. but in the middle of town.
Is this a museum or the box it came in..? Joking..! All observers seem to agree that this - the Guggenheim Museum - is a stunning looking building which we still have to visit..
To be fair, we only drove through and we didn't get to explore the old town which is clearly alive and well: