How often do you get to visit a place you sincerely thought you’d never see?
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain was one such place. I had seen it in news clips, when it was first built. But it is very out of the way in Spain, neither near Madrid nor Barcelona. I can’t tell you how happy I am that we rented a car to drive here.
And then, how often does one get the chance to see BOTH Guggenheim Museums … in one trip? And, in another strange “six degrees of separation” the main exhibit was Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect of the Guggenheim Museum in NYC and one of Anders’ favorite architects. AND inside the exhibit, which took up numerous salons and included these amazing HUGE replicas of many of the buildings that he designed but were never built, one of the examples was the Marin County building off 101. And finally, the exhibit was sponsored by Eberdrola, Anders’ former company.
The building itself is glorious. There are no right angles, both inside and outside. Frank Geary, the American architect, drew the original sketch on the back of a napkin (literally) and did it without lifting his pen off the page. It is an amalgam of titanium panels, stone, and glass. Standing inside in the lobby of the main part of the building, everything is moving – not physically of course – but because there are no right angles, the space flows from one view to another. The elevator shaft is enclosed in a sexy glass swoosh, so even that doesn’t seem straight. Columns are twisted and arched. It is glorious.
Out front is this 30-foot-tall puppy topiary, planted with thousands of flowering violets. It is the “awww cute” to the creepy 20-foot-tall brazz spider on the backside of the building.
Our first night in Bilbao we learned just how different the Spanish culture is to the French culture. The Spanish people filled the inner spaces and spilled out of the tapas bars into the street, enjoying their glass of wine while chatting with friends on the sidewalk. Their children often played with a ball beside them. It felt like a grown up frat party. It was 10 pm, and people were just getting warmed up.
Because I really wanted to sit down to eat dinner, we walked until we found a restaurant that could take us. We enjoyed a lovely Spanish meal, and when we were paying the bill, at something like 11:30, a table next to us was just sitting down. It is a perfect place to be when you like to stay up late, and sleep in late.