Got up early, packed, and hiked for the train station. The plan was to jump on the train to Bilbao see the museum then take off again tomorrow morning. Unfortunately it didn't work quite that well. The queue at the train station was outrageous and it took an hour for my number to come up, only to be told that you couldn't take the train to Bilbao you have to take the bus. This seems strange to me since I know my train to San Sebastián stopped at Bilbao. Anyway a long hike later I end up at the bus station, and an hour and a half later I'm belatedly on my way to Bilbao.
Get to Bilbao shortly after 3pm, unfortunately the tourist office closes at one so I'm stuck with the poor and outdated map in my guidebook. Second try I find a room and settle down for a bit to get organized and let the tourist office open after their afternoon siesta before I head for the museum.
The Guggenheine, I have to admit I wasn't expecting much. Usually modern art museums are either extremely ugly or "interesting" on the outside and boring or disturbing on the inside. Knowing the Guggenheine was plated with titanium I expected it to be a major eyesore. As I was walking down the street I caught my first glimpse: an obnoixious, bulging monstrasity that conflicted witht the old buildings lining the street. No surprise. When I walked out into the open and could see the entire building I was surprised. It's is stunning, graceful, complemetory, and beautiful. It looks like a cross between the Sydney opera house, storm surf, and the Emerald City of OZ - all chrome plated. That doesn't sound very good, but it is. And it just "fits" with the river.
Not only the outside, but the interior space is also beautiful. Like most modern art museums the best part was the building. However the installed works were also excellent. I particularly liked a piece that was in a mirrored alcove, three stories tall, with eight (more?) columns of Banner LED displays scrolling multi-lingual messages in red on the front, and purple on the back. Now here's the real surprise the rest of the exhibits were good as well. Warhol's, Lichtenstien's, lots of others I'd never heard of or don't remember, but the vast majority of it creative and expressive without being different or wierd for it's own sake. After being dissapointed by the Prado this was a welcome surprise!
After my near religious experience (OK, i might be over reacting, but it was just so much better than I expected!) I was hungry. Did the tapas thing for dinner. I was planning on heading just a bit up the coast to some more beach time (Santander), but as I left the museum it was starting to rain. So if the weather isn't going to cooperate I might as well spend the day on the train and make some miles towards Portugal. With this goal in mind it was (relatively - before 4) early to bed.