I was thinking how dismal it is travelling at least by air, everyone cramming their things into suitcases, trying to ensure that they brought everything, heaving these bulky objects around. Always seems pathetic, desperate maybe, in some way. There´s something to be said for a private plane (lottery ticket anyone?).

Arriving in Spain, too, is a culture shock. Inglese not spoken everywhere, but, Bilbao, what a terrific city, having heard it was pretty industrial, etc., it turns out to be charming, elegant, quiet and they´ve done what Toronto never did, namely preserve their riverfront.

Even the bridges are of interest, especially one by Calatrava (at least I think it´s by him, still checking. Photo to follow.)

The Guggenheim, which I am looking at as I type–our hotel is just across the road–was closed today so we walked and walked, all over town. Still, the Guggenheim is so spectacular, it´s hard to take your eyes off of it, the architecture itself is magnificent, even the titanium cladding is a stroke of genius, reflecting the sky and sun beautifully.

Had a terrific lunch at Café Iruña,, (white asparagus and tubot for me, lentil soup and steak for Roo, with a bottle of local Rioja, 58 euros). They didn´t speak English but we seemed to manage.

After a rest and too much work, we had a drink at the Splash & Crash Bar and got the advice of our desk clerk, a bi-lingual who had grown up in Houston/Atlanta. She told us about a funky place where we went called Kikara,, on the unpronouncable Iparraguirre 23. The Iberian acorn-fed ham was alone worth the visit but the place was empty but for 3 women downstairs at the bar and us. Either no one goes out Mondays or the volcanic ash has caused many people to forestall their travel plans, at least to Bilbao.