For most of my life, Easter break was a time to let go, to have a good time and to do things I don’t do usually, like hiking, sunbathing. This year I decided to do something different. I decided to stay in Bilbao, my hometown.
I love to stroll and I didn’t want to just end up staying home and doing nothing, so I planned to walked around and make this an opportunity to rediscover the area I live in.
Yesterday was Holy Thursday, my first day of vacation. It was a beautiful sunny day with a high temperature of 24ºC., so strolling through the city and parks was really nice. The Fine Arts Museum on the Euskadi square was my starting point. I passed The Iberdrola Tower, the tallest building in Bilbao, and headed to Avenida Abandoibarra, which follows the river and leads directly to the Guggenheim Museum and then to the old part of the city, the medieval Bilbao.
The place, usually crowed with students, was full of residents and visitors strolling along Abandoibarra area.
As I was walking towards the old part of the city, called El Casco Viejo, I heard some drums and saw many spectators. It was one of the Holy Week processions that take place in Bilbao to commemorate the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ. Every church has a “paso” or large figure that the members of the religious brotherhoods carry in their procession throughout the streets of Bilbao. Some of the sculptures are of great antiquity and are considered artistic masterpieces, as well as being culturally and spiritually important to the local Catholic population. The members of each church are dressed up in penitential robes and a pointed hood and sometimes barefoot. They carry the pasos throughout the streets of Bilbao marching in silence. The processions are accompanied by drum and trumpet bands after the pasos. See the pictures I leave below for you to understand what processions looks like and the atmosphere.
After a while, I decided to move on. The seven streets of the Casco Viejo are a good choice if one is looking for nice “pintxos”, the Basque word for tapas. It is worth walking through the narrow streets and popping into bar after bar. Yesterday the old part of the city was fully packed and busy with bars bursting with pintxos. The weather was so nice that people were outside bars having dinner and others, around barrels, unwinding over some drinks with friends. I had thinly-sliced Jabugo ham, Idiazabal cheese and bread. What a great companion to a red Rioja wine!
Because drinking-driving laws are very tough, I caught the metro back home.
Bilbao has changed so much for the better in the last 15 years, that yesterday I enjoyed strolling around. I think it won’t be the last time. I will keep every one informed about my findings. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.