Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ron's Weekend in Bilbao

Last January 3 and 4, 2015 after our trip to Portugal, Ron visited Bilbao (Basque)  with his two friends.  Bilbao is situated in the northern-central part of Spain.  They not only visited the most emblematic sites, but also tasted their famous tapas, or pintxos, specially popular in the Basque country. And here are some of their photos. To see enlarged picture, click on the image.  If picture does not appear immediately refresh by clicking on F5.

                 Abando Railway Station                                             Typical pintxo bar

             City Hall                                       Osakidetza Building
The Bilbao City Hall was built in 1892 by Joaquín Rucoba in baroque style.  One of the highlights of the building is the Arab Hall,  a richly decorated hall in the Neo-Mudéjar style that resembles the decorations found in the Alhambra of Granada.  The hall is used for official receptions and weddings. Source:  Wikipedia

The Osakidetza Building is currently the headquarter of the Department of Health of the Basque Government and it was opened in 2008. It has an area of 8802 meters square, where we can find a hall, garages, warehouses, offices and customer service.

This is one of the emblematic buildings that the city of Bilbao has seen born in recent years, and they are achieving that this Basque city become an example of progress and modernity.

Alhóndiga Columns -Alhóndiga Bilbao is a multi-purpose venue labeled as a "Culture and Leisure Center" and consist of a cinema multiplex, a fitness center, a library, showrooms, auditoriums, shops and a restaurant.

The 43 pillars holding up the three buildings are of different colors and designs,according to Lorenzo Baraldi, symbolize the infinity of cultures, architectures, wars and religions, man has gone through over history.

The Basque Government decided to declare the building "Public Property of Cultural Interest in 1999.
Source:  Bilbao International and Wikepedia.

    The Poster for exhibits in the Museum of Fine Arts                   The Maritime Museum      

Forest of street light posts, and urban art.


Guggenheim Museum - Hailed as the most important structure of its time when it opened in 1997, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has changed the way people think about museums and continues to challenge assumptions about the connections between art, architecture, and collecting.
Source: Guggenheim  

Marc Chagall, <em>Paris Through the Window</em> (<em>Paris par la fenêtre</em>), 1913
September 23, 2014–May 3, 2015

Celebrating the first period of partnership between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, The Art of Our Time: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collections presents an ambitious overview of the combined holdings of the Guggenheim institutions and traces the evolution of the Bilbao collection from inception to present day.  Source: Guggenheim

                                               Panoramic view of the Guggenheim Museum



The Zubizurri Bridge, or Calatrava Bridge. Footbridge across the Nervion river, completed in 1997. The bridge has become infamous because of the glass surface that becomes very slippery when it rains (in Bilbao 128 days per year). The city solved the issue by applying tapestry - probably not the artistic "haute cuisine" favored by architect Calatrava, but at least it was more practical. The tapestry caused new issues when in strong winds it would come loose and be able to lift a person from the ground.
Source:  Full Calatrava 


Gaztelugatxe is an islet on the coast of Basque country. It is connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge. On top of the island stands a hermitage  (named Gaztelugatxeko Doniene in Basque ; San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spanish), dedicated to John the Baptist that dates from the 10th century, although discoveries indicate that the date might be the 9th century.  Source:  Wikipedia

Bermeo is a town and municipality in the sub-region of Busturialdea. Bermeo has 17,159 inhabitants and is the most important fishing port of the Basque Country. The town has a long maritime tradition and its economy is based on the fishing industry. Source:  Wikipedia


Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai is an extraordinarily beautiful and varied area, and for such it was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1984.
Mundaka -The name of the town has Danish origin, it has been proven that the Vikings arrived there 900 years ago.

The port is in the center point of the town, from there the old part of the town grew.  All the houses are medieval, fishermen's houses, always looking to the sea.  Source:  Wikipedia

Through Ron's trip to Bilbao and vicinities, we have the opportunity to trace his steps when we get the chance.  Sharing information on travels helps us to plan our visit better.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Evolution of a Rose

Here is how I pictured the rose that Ron's officemate, Antonio, gave me when I invited him for dinner along with Tomomi, a Japanese officemate too (who gave me a beautiful scarf that can be folded in many different ways not only to decorate the neck but also to bundle objects, or be used as a bag).

Day 1 - Dec 17                  Day 2 - Dec 18

                                                                           Day 3 - Dec 19                   Day 4 - Dec 20

                                                                           Day 5 - Dec 21                    Day 6 - Dec 22

                                                                           Day 7 - Dec 23                    Day 8 - Dec 24

                                                                           Day 9 - Dec 25                  Day 10 - Dec 26

Day 12 - Dec 28

At first it was on the dining it is in the kitchen.

Wonderful gifts!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Trip to Porto, Portugal

Porto is an enchanting city, established on the hills at the mouth of the Douro river. Designated an UNESCO World Heritage site for its historic buildings and outstanding monuments, highlights of Portugal’s second largest city include the formidable Porto cathedral, the Torre dos Clérigos and the conspicuous Port wine lodges that dominate the hillside of Vila Nova de Gaia. Although largely industrialised, Porto offers a compelling synthesis of ancient and contemporary attractions.  Source:

We immediately got to our hotel after arriving in Porto.  It is a charming hotel,  Santa Catarina Castle, classified as a building of heritage and architectural interest,  in the city of Porto.  Although it is a walk up hotel, we were lodged on the ground floor as a special consideration for me.  Age sometimes is a privilege for some...







We left soon for a walk around the city to see the preparation for the New Year's eve event and to have an early dinner, since not all of the restaurants were open that night and most of them accepted only guests with previous reservations.


The market was almost closing but we managed to see a few stalls with some curious stuff, like the dried tripe, which I have never seen before.



As we had a light lunch, Ron bought pastry and it was served warm and crunchy, yummy!  Although I was tempted to try their "Francesinha", the most popular "bite" in Oporto and is renowned as the most popular Portuguese sandwich.  It is  made with bread, wet-cured ham, fresh sausage, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries. Too much calories.


We took a Hop on Hop off  bus tour that included the sights along the Douro river. It was already  dark as we hopped in the bus although we had another chance to take it the following day using the same tickets.


This is where the 10pm concert was held that was interrupted only by the fireworks at 12 midnight, after which was resumed until wee hours in the morning.



We saw the River Duoro at night and during the day.




After the bus tour which left us by the River Duoro, we were ready to eat.  We checked a couple of restaurants but did not admit guests without reservations, but we were lucky that on the third attempt we were seated.  It is a small restaurant that serves food in one place while the waiter has to get out the door, cross the street to the restaurant in front where they cook the food and have all of the utensils are kept. We had a simple New Year's Eve dinner which consisted of roast chicken and rice with cod fish served with the same  cod fish but fried and crunchy.



As we finished dining, we walked back to our hotel and found it surprising that people were dining outside with the warmth only of a guarded flame.


We went to the hotel to make a few phone calls to greet the family a happy New Year, then we went back to the Avda. de Aliados, where the fireworks were to be held.  It was a huge area but people kept coming to squeeze in what little space was left.  It was beautiful to see the fireworks coming from different buildings to merge in the middle of the sky.  The fireworks must have lasted for 15 minutes after which, a group of people near to us, opened their bottles of  champagne to bathe all those around. I got a little bit wet, but not much to be a bother. Some had come provided with their 12 grapes, but as we forgot ours, Ron and I decided to break into 12 pcs two candies.




Soon after, we wanted to leave but it was not easy due to the huge crowd and when we finally were able to get out of the crowd, I realized that I could not find Ron.  It was quite an anxiety because I did not bring my phone.  I stayed calm and walked on the aisle and before I knew it, we were walking  side by side.  Ron told me that he lost his woolen hat but it was impossible to go back where we were before.  I told him not to worry because I will buy him a new one.  But in a little while  to our amazement, Ron saw a hat that was thrown in the air and was caught by a guy two heads away.  Ron immediately recognized it to be his hat and claimed it and the guy gave it to him gladly. We walked home but took more pictures, first.  Ron asked me to take his picture among the crowd and as I was doing so, a guy just popped in to join him, oh why not, come join the fun!!!


We took more pictures... Observe the halo around Ron's head by the stop lights.


The following day January 1st,  after checking out but leaving our luggages in the hotel, we attended mass in a church near the metro Marqués station, about 345 meters away from the hotel.




After hearing mass, we went to the same stop where we took the bus tour the night before and waited for another ride with a shorter route this time.  As we waited, we took more pictures.



And the tour began.  We got off immediately as we did not have much more time to lose.








But we realized that we got off in an isolated area where taxis do not usually appear unless they bring in passengers.  I was getting nervous because time was running quickly and we had to go back to the hotel before going to the airport.  Ron went to the other side hoping to find a taxi somewhere else, but he came back later without any luck.  I thought of calling the hotel to request for a taxi to pick us up, but Ron said there was no coverage.  I was getting desperate as Ron kept urging me to cross the bridge to the other side where taxis may be available, but knowing me it would take me at least 15 minutes and not being sure whether there will be a taxi ready to pick us up.  When I was about to lose my patience, all of a sudden, a taxi, came to our side.  It must be the one that I flagged before as it came with some passengers. Allelujah, saved by the bell... And home never felt so good as we arrived.