November 5, 2000 Bilbao Spain It is a gray rainy day, 11 degrees Celsius or about 53 F.

Drawing in the rain isn't the easiest thing to do even with a little protection from the deck of the bridge overhead, but for an artist the journey is the reward (sometimes, anyway). In our case the journey being a pilgrimage to the great new cathedral in the religion of "ART": the Guggenheim in Bilbao.

It hasn't been easy getting connected here in Spain. Before we left I joined AT&T World Net so I could have a ISP with local numbers in Spain. Of course they don't have local number on the Vineyard (the closest was Fall River and that didn't even work...). But they did have a number in Barcelona, the only problem was that the Hotel Gravina, a three star hotel and part of the Best Western chain, has a telephone system that doesn't work with modems so I couldn't connect. The same was true of the hotel we where stayed in Zaragosa. We checked out an Internet place but I couldn't connect there either. I could go on the web, but there wasn't anyway to upload changes to Yesterday we arrived in Bilbao and went to the Guggenheim Museum. Like a lot of things that you look forward to the reality turned out to be a disappointment. A lot of that had to do with the show "Changing Perceptions" that is now on. It all minimal art. And that is exactly what it is: minimal. Boring. About the only things that aren't minimal about it are the hype, size, and prices. The only interesting this is the museum building it's self which is pretty spectacular. As a piece of sculpture is is hands down way more interesting than anything I saw inside it.

But the life of an Art Pilgrim isn't all that bad. We stayed in our first 5 Star Hotel.

In a lot of what we had read Bilbao was described as a grimy industrial city. It sure didn't look that way to us. And the price was right. Our lovely room on the top floor overlooking the park was about $80 a night. Around a third of what it would have cost in Barcelona.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. Let's go back a bit and look at some pictures.

Back in Barcelona:

The elevators installed in the old buildings are most often so small that they only hold 2 people, or 4 if you squeeze in. To Make them feel less claustrophobic they are lined with smoked mirrors so you end up riding with your doppleganger.

We headed off to the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. When he designed the building the American architect Richard Meier must have realized that the are they were going to put in it would be so vacuous that there really wasn't much point in devoting much space to it. So most of the building is devoted to ramps and stairways and other spaces devoid of art or even the pretense of it. The gallery rooms felt like corridors between the architectural spaces.

Later we took the subway to see Gaudi's Sagrada Famila. The underground seemed to be quite nice and efficient, even for someone who doesn't speak the language.


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