There is more to Bilbao than chorizo

by Evans Yonson

The world famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Barcelona – I went to Bilbao as a semestral break gift to myself forgetting the fact that I still several papers to write for my deadline today. But who cares when I am having fun travelling. When this situation comes up, I always remember my friend Amalia would tell me, “no one will remember this when we turn 80.” So, I flew to Bilbao early Tuesday morning with my backpack, 4 cameras and my tripod. It was not raining in Bilbao when I arrived. The airport didn’t impress me at all. It’s low-ceilinged and dimly-lit. The toilets stink and the directions are not friendly at all. The bus that ply from the airport to the city does not arrive (every 15 minutes) as frequently as that of Barcelona (exactly every 6 minutes according to the Aerobus driver). It means one thing, there is not much tourists in Bilbao during winter.

As a budget traveller, I checked-in at a local youth hostel which is cheap by Spanish standard. The lady receptionist spoke good English at the beginning and sensing that she was already having a hard time talking to me, I switched to Spanish. I saw the relief in her face when I said that I speak Spanish. Lucy assigned me to a small coed room of six-beds. A Japanese lady named Yuna, came two days earlier was staying for two more days in my room. This girl looks very innocent like that girl in Rashomon. She moves like the wind in spring, soft and smooth. Her long and silky black hair sways and flows below her shoulders.

I unpacked my things, took out my cameras, the made-in-China black umbrella, my scarf and my bonnet. First stop, the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. Lucy handed me a map and gave me some pointers of interesting sites to visit. I walked almost three kilometers just to get this view.

I entered the museum but I was not allowed to take my cameras. I had to deposit it and had to contend with my failing memory bank to recount what happened inside later on. The outer walls of the museum are made of titanium (chemical symbol Ti, atomic number 22) called the “space age metal”, it has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant (including sea water) transition metal with a silver color. With the use of nightlights, the silver color of the titanium turns into gold.

The Guggenheim Museum at night.

Truth to tell, I love the museum’s architectural design. Frank Gehry’s deconstructivism style of architecture is famous the whole world. He made use of titanium as his primary  material for his colossal projects like the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Experience Music Project in Seattle. The Guggenheim Bilbao Museum design is entirely different from the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The New York counterpart has expositions the whole year round. While the Bilbao museum has only a few collections on display. Or perhaps, I was in Bilbao at the wrong time of the year. I felt so lost not because the building was huge but because except for massive iron-ellipse installation, there is nothing else in the museum. Wright’s architectural successes and failures were exhibited in two floors. Just the same, I would say it’s way too grand in the outside but nothing much exciting inside.

After six hours of standing and walking around, inside and outside the Museum, I decided to retire before 10PM as I was planning to walking another six hours the next day. At 2AM, I was awaken by the noise of two people entering my room. It was Yuna and that Spanish guy she was talking to earlier this evening when I arrived. They smelled alcohol and from what I heard, they had absinthe to drink. I think they had too many glasses that they started kissing and touching their private parts without minding that there was someone else in the room. I was wearing my eyepatch so I could see nothing but total darkness. The Spanish guy talked alot and thanks to him I didn´t need to remove my patch. Then they started doing the unexpected, well the expected anyway. He was very noisy and like most Europeans when they have sex, they want the whole world to know that they are having one at the moment. Public display of affection is nothing here. Having noisy sex is the thing here. Poor girl, she was moaning and groaning probably because his gun was indeed a weapon of mass destruction. This was not the Second World War anymore, Yuna. This is the 21st century. You have to be noisy like your partner. We’re on the free world, honey. Next time, shout!!!! For goodness sake.

There is more to Bilbao than chorizo. Indeed.

I let myself drift to sleep to the sound of east-meets-west-sex and the river outside my hostel. When I woke up, the Japanese girl was already awake and she sat by her feeling lost. What the f**k! You can´t be lost when you had sex with a big pistol the night before. I didn´t mind her and left the hostel to see the Museum all over again. When I was walking towards the massive creation, I realized that my Japanese roommate was just like the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. Beautiful outside. But completely lost and nothing inside. Momentarily, perhaps.