Day 16: Eibar – Bilbao. 49km.

Photograph of the very steep town of Eibar, Basque, Spain taken from a high window showing buildings going up sides of a valley.
Good morning from the Unzaga Plaza Hotel in Eibar. Breakfast was full of a cacophonous coach party from Alicante and few bemused couples wondering how the hell they ended up here. Breakfast itself consisted of orange juice which had never seen an orange and ham which had never seen any organically occurring substance whatsoever. I am desperate to know who these other guests are and why, oh why, are they here?

I just can’t make sense of the existence of this entire town. Wikipedia tells me that its main industry since the 16th century has been small arms. That’s guns I think, rather than tiny prosthetics. I may have to move here to make peace with my mind. Without it nothing else in the world can make sense. Property, you’ll be interested to know, is relatively cheap.

Today it rained and I struggled and I cried and I walked up hills. Yesterday, Robin Williams chose to not stick around anymore. This upset me for reasons I don’t feel this is the place for. Suffice to say if he can’t make it add it, then what hope do I have. Enough of that.

After the hills, it was dual carriageway, fast and scary with a surprising number of cyclists, far more so than you would ever see on an A road in the UK.

Photograph of Sarah cycling up a hill with a sign which says 'Aretitio 313m'.

Despite the hills, the crying and the rain, the scenery is magnificent. This whole Basque coast is a fantastically impressive combination of mountains, beaches and cities.

Photograph of countryside with hills, trees and mountains in the distance.

At exactly about this point (below), about 2 miles outside Bilbao, my trusty velometer told me we had cycled 1000km. We had water and peanuts to celebrate.

Photograph of Sarah layng on a roadside wall with two bicycles next to her.


We found our way to our Pension La Salve – 5 mins from Guggenheim including breakfast for €60 but one of the worst views from the window I’ve ever experienced.

Photograph from hotel window of flyover and wasteland, Bilbao.

This is my second visit to Bilbao. The first was in 2001 and was at the end of a 6 week camping trip with 2 kids in a Peugeot 205 that heralded the end of my marriage and the start of many years of agoraphobia. I wrote a comedy show about all of that and performed a full run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013 after cycling solo to Barcelona (I caught a train for 200 miles) in order to try and cure myself. I have high hopes for this visit being untraumatic and dull and leaving no residual baggage.

Photograph of Guggenheim, Bilbao.

Photograph of the Guggenheim, Bilbao from the other side of the river which runs next to it.

Photograph of the silver, curved walls of the Guggenheim, Bilbao.

How many photos of the Guggenheim would you like? It’s such a wonderful building with a million different angles and obvious shots, its hard to know when to stop.

Bilbao is a little bit of a one trick pony, with the Gugg being the main draw and the rest of the city having nothing astounding about it. A huge amount of money has been spent on the city since the Guggenheim was built as it had such a massive impact on a previously pretty uneventful city in terms if tourism. It’s a perfectly fine place to wander with an old town and nice riverside paths and bridges and a very decent Mr Wok Chinese buffet for those times when you just cant be arsed to try and communicate exactly what it is that you want to eat, because your Spanish is so shamefully rubbish, when what you want to eat is 17 padron peppers and some chicken.

Photograph of a rainy street and people in Bilbao Old Town.

Photograph of a church in Bilbao Old Town

Full of food and regret for the final visit to the buffet we retire to the pension with just one final snap of the pretty thing.

Photograph of the Guggenheim Art Gallery, Bilbao lit up at night.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts or comments