Castro-Urdiales to Bilbao. Spain

Nice Art Museum: The river side of the Guggenheim Museum

Climbing out of Castor-Urdiales
A 500 foot climb

An even shorter day - 26 miles with 1800 feet of climbing - and I took the train for the last 20 km. Today I looped. The roughly 25 mile ride to Bilbao became a 26 mile ride plus a 20 km _ about 13 mile - train ride. The roads here are sometimes strangely marked and, as best I can figure, I misread the markings (again) today. As a result, after 23 miles of hard riding, I experienced dejavu. At that point I turned around (again) and searched for the signs for a train station I had seen a few miles before. I found it, after some searching and got on a train to Bilbao. That was a very good move as I was exhausted - from a LOT of STEEP climbing - and frustrated.

Parmeeta Bhogal, who lives in Bilbao wrote me providng some useful information: "You mention you found the entry into Bilbao from Castro Urdiales (one of your route stages) very confusing and you ended up taking a train. For those not wanting to use the train, there is a dedicated bicycle route only- (which you seem to have partially used) that takes you from Muskiz to Portugalete on the left bank of the Nervion estuary. You then cross the river using the Puente de Bizkaia (Hanging Bridge- a Unesco World Hertage site) and enter Bilbao along the flatter route on the other side of the river. You might want to add this info to your page."

Looking back after about 6 miles and 1000 feet of climbing

Looking back after about 11 miles and 1500 feet of climbing
The view in the upper image can be seen in the top right hand corner of the lower image

Riding, for the first 15 miles was spectacular, but difficult with lots of steep grades - typically 7 to 8 % and some greater than 10% - and long climbs and fast descents. I pushed the 60 kph bike speed limit today ;-}, but my average speed was 7.6 mph. I'm faster than that on a loaded bike riding from my house to Mt Mitchell!

I had a good room and a comfortable bed last night, but did not sleep well. I've been bothered by fever dreams - and several times by chills - ever night, except my second night in Santader,since I reached the Atlantic coast. I think the problem is simple exhaustion, as well as a bit of a cold. Surprisingly, I feel OK while riding.

Some sections were bad riding on narrow streets with heavy truck traffic

A nice bit of flat road at about 500 feet

A nice bike path on my second (!) descent into Muskiz

When I finally got to Bilbao about 1:30- the train ride was nice and I recommend it to anyone riding into Bilbao from the west since there isn't much nice riding between Muskiz and Bilbao - I walked around a bit, orienting myself, and then found a tourist info office. Great move, that! I got all kinds of good information about Bilbao and some good ideas of where - Gurnika, as in Picaso's painting - and how to get there.

Since I had had a light lunch in Muskiz, I headed for the Guggenheim. It is closed today, but I figured that I would really enjoy it, even closed. I spent at least an hour there, enjoying it.

Approaching the Guggenheim from in the city

The main entrance

The view looking north

The cat

The 'tail' of the museum and the bridge over the river

The step down the side of the museum,the back of
the cat, and my bike - illegally parked above the lady with orange pants

A man 'playing' the fountain
There are four foot switches that control its actions

A nice place to sit and contemplate
I did just that for half an hour or so

My bike, which was locked to the railing, attracted the attention of a security person just about the time I was ready to leave ;-}. She gave me elaborate instructions, in Spanish, about where it was legal to leave it. I thanked her, and headed down the long stair on the north side of the museum. I put on my helmet, but not my gloves and, bounching the bike down the stairs, lost one my gloves ;-{. I have a spare, old, pair, so it is not a big problem. I bet I could find new ones here, but I may just wait till I come to a bicycle store. There was a nice looking one in Santander and there are lots of recreational and racing riders in northern Spain.

Speaking of problems, I think I've cured my LZ2 problem by reseting it to factory defaults. I think it had gotten its sensor specs scrambled, and resetting everything reset them. Anyway it working well again.

Several works of art in one image. These are just south of the Museum

The bike/walk 'path' just behind the museum.

After I left the Guggenheim, I rode along a bike/people path that goes along, on both sides of the river. This a really neat city with lots of public are and public facilities. The elaborate bike and people path is part of that and some of the art is mounted along it. Bilbao has an art bike ride that is 10 km long and has almost 100 art stops along the way. I rode a km or so of it on my way to the old city where the cheap lodging is found!

In the old city

I rode along the bike path and crossed the river to get to the old city. It has some beautiful old churches, including a neat baroque church 100 feet from where I'm staying, but mostly it has shops, restaurants, and some places to stay. I found a restaurant first. It was 3 PM and I hadn't had a real lunch. Note: 3 PM is still peak Spanish lunch hour. I had a good lunch, with half a bottle of wine for 8.20E. Then I went looking for a place to stay.

I had information on hotels and pensions from the info place, so the main task was to find the right streets in the old town. When I found a good street, it saw a 'hightec' three star hotel. I went in, asked if they had internet connections in the rooms. They did. And how much would it cost me to spend the night? 85 E - which is maybe $110 now. No thanks. Then I wandered about two block and spotted a one star pension. Its is on the second floor, i.e. two long flight of stairs up, but it cost 60 E per night less than the high tech hotel. I slipped - too much wine! - and sprained my ankle and bruised my butt a little as I was making my second trip down to haul stuff up, but neither the mild sprain nor the bruise will cause me any real problems. I think I'll sleep as well here as I would have in the three star place, and I'll pass on $80 for a night for internet access. I genuinely like the couple that run this place - she must be about 4 foot six inches tall and they are both in their 60s.

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