Guggenheim Museum, Invite some artists

Having generated the building we need some artists to create visual impact for people who wander up here.


Jeff Koons can make a puppy dog from flowers. Puppy seems a good name for that one. We’ll put it above the main entrance.

Around the side we’ll need a few. So lets start off with Louise Bourgeois. In fact we like her so much we’ll give her an enormous room inside for many of her installations. Inside is probably best as she doesn’t seem too happy with life and putting them outside may depress people.


Louise Bourgeois – Maman



Anish Kapoor – Tall Tree and the Eye.

Now lets get that Jeff Koons back again as everyone liked his Puppy and he can do something bright and positive and colourful and call it Tulips. It’ll create a bit of balance for that dark Louise Bougeois.

We had read that the building was to be seen, and the exhibits inside less so. We beg to differ. The fine people at the Guggenheim Bilbao are very fussy about you taking pictures of the art work inside. So fussy they dont allow it. So we undertook not to upset them. Inside the rooms dedicated to different themes are very large. While we were there our favourites were:

Richard Serra…………..huge pieces of textured metal, Huuuge side of very big.

Andy Warhol…………..a single image repeated many, many times ( 102 canvases to be specific as to what many, many means) It covered all the wall space of a large L shaped room. Over 100 metres of  repetition, called Shadows.

Louise Bourgeois ………just in case you felt you were having too jolly a time.

Well worth the 16 Euros entrance fee.


Basque Food, San Sebastian

A stranger, to us, recommended a restaurant that serves traditional Basque food. This spot.


It was a walk from the centre of town of 30 minutes into a residential area. Off the beaten track touristically, but all streets sealed and the area serviced by the important trifecta of utilities; water, electricity and sewerage. We arrived for lunch at 1:30pm which we considered to be a reasonable hour to dine and 30 minutes after the place opened. Not a soul there, just us and the restaurant staff.

The menu del dia was four courses with a terrine described to us as “pigs head” to start that made it five. Mille feuille asparagus or chipirone salad followed the “pigs head”, slow cooked egg/sausage or hake, then beef cheek or duck and finally choux pastries full of cream. There was a choice of dessert also, but once we had read choux pastries full of cream, we could read no further.The food was very good, especially the duck that was superb, so superb, we devoured it, and neglected to collect its image.


We don’t know what traditional Basque cooking entails. If this is it, it is very very good, and familiar. The restaurant was pleasantly set out with an enormous ancient wooden entrance door that looked as if it was some hundreds of years older than the restaurant itself. It is a family business and the service was good, it isn’t where you go for polished service, but certainly very friendly service is the tone here. We were given a table on the terrace and we found everything thoroughly delightful.


There is a glass of wine included in the price . We thought the serves were a bit mean, but we were understanding, as the menu price was tiny, and we interpreted this as an encouragment to us to order extra wine. Fair enough. Then the waiter left the bottle. We had been mistaken. The wine serves were actually very generous, the price included a half bottle each and the wine was a very drinkable Rioja. Red of course, we have no truck with those white Rioja upstarts.

The price. Euros 25 each, everything included. When we left the restaurant at around 3pm, it was full. Full of local people which we always interpret positively. We were flabbergasted that such compelling value could be secured such a short stroll from the centre of San Sebastian. Don’t tell anyone or they will all want to dine here!


San Sebastian’s Waste Disposal

We have rented an apartment in a rather nice, rather upmarket shopping area of San Sebastian. Fitting, as we are rather nice people who avoid upmarket shops. Here there are no wheelie bins on the pavement, or anywhere. Instead there are communal repositories:


Between the hours of 7:30pm and 10:30pm you can put your household garbage into this rather neat receptacle on the street. The steel top hides an underground skip. The time limits for deposits, I assume, allow your rubbish to be removed each day before it deteriorates and translates to an unpleasant odour. As a source of unpleasant odours myself, I appreciate the competition being stymied.

We have never seen or heard any of these underground holders being emptied. This leads us to speculate that there are teams of children crawling through tunnels to drag away waste in the dead of night. Above ground recycling supports the subterranean arrangements as follows:

You don’t need to walk far to discover a collection of bins. Each a short walk and each designed to attarct its own type of recycle, seperately. There are paper bins, glass bins and plastic bins. There were two that fascinated us that we had not expected to see, one was a cooking oil bin.The other was a bin with access control.


Access to this recycling bin can only be achieved using a plastic card. That is clever.

So what goes into this bin that access has to be so closely managed? Organic waste……. Huh? I speculate that this is where deceased pets collect and perhaps …….ex grandparents. Nah, I think its probably just vegetable peelings as I could see no Tobin Brothers sponsorship here.


We interrupt this program. Brexit as seen from Spain.

While we were in Spain, Britain voted to leave the EU. A surprise to many in betting agencies, in Britain, in the EU and outside the EU.

The result of the vote was known Friday morning and I bought Saturday’s El Pais to extract a Spanish perspective. Were they interested? Very interested. The first 16 pages were totally dedicated to the story and after that another 5 pages, from a newspaper that was 55 pages in total length.


The front page picture from El Pais captures a mood. The mood I interpret as an editorial image on behalf of the newspaper.

Of the countries in the EU the (non UK) country most impacted by this decision (according to Goldman Sachs) is Spain. The Spanish Stock Exchange fell 12.35% on Friday, more than any stock market around the World.


I can see that El Pais describes it as the worst fall ever.  I would have thought that there had been global crashes that have resulted in  deeper falls. But I agree, it is a big fall.

Spain runs a surplus with Britain exporting cars, food, drink, and machinery and has some issues: 1. Tourism is 11% of GDP and the greatest single source of those tourists are the 13 million Britons who short stay here each year. A weaker pound will negatively impact that trade. 2. There are 750,000 UK citizens, many of whom who are retirees, who live in Spain. They may now lose healthcare benefits and have an uncertain residential/taxation status. 3. Spain has a number of investments in the UK-O2, 25% of Heathrow airport, Abbey National, TSB and they all just shrank in value.

Most of the reporting was similar to that on the ABC. Criticisms of Corbyn, Scottish Nationalists pushing their agenda, diplomatic commentary from Merkel and Hollande and churlish comments from Martin Schulz. Overall, reflecting measured consistent concerns from a Spanish perspective.

There was a sliver of local opportunism thrown in, after all, Spain is in election mode and goes to the polls on Sunday:


One of the Spanish Ministers stated that the British exit brought closer the day on which the Spanish flag would fly over Gibraltar. “Gibraltar will never be Spanish” was the abrupt response above from Gibraltar’s Governor (if that is his correct title.

While most of the articles were measured with a consistent theme of concern, two of the articles are a little more pointed:


Firstly;Trump with a Thesauraus. Its a quote from elsewhere, but I don’t think Boris Johnson would find anything flattering in the article that followed.

Secondly; El Pais printed a colour coded map of Britain, blue being areas that voted to remain and shades of pink being areas that voted to leave, the deeper the colour the stronger the vote. El Pais visited an area of deepest red……. Doncaster where the vote to leave was 68.9%. They first painted a picture of Doncaster as a place where levels of settled immigrants are significantly lower than the UK average and a place where benefit recipients are significantly higher than the UK average. They found two English men to interview. They described the gentlemen’s tattoos before reporting their comments and reasons for voting to leave the EU. I thought I understood where El Pais sat, context is everything.



What does the Spanish supermarket say?

Actually, not a lot, literally nothing at all and as an illustration of Spanish culture less than I had hoped.


The Spanish supermarket is similar to the french with less cheese and poorer presentation of foodstuffs. There is a liking for long life milk. We normally buy fresh milk from the tiny amount we find stocked in a lost corner of a chiller. On this occasion we could find none, except for some donated by a sheep. We bought the long life. It was not the small tubs of horror with foil lid that we have experienced at very cheap cafes. It was good, we were surprised. So we continued to purchase it and poured it onto our cereal every morning.


UHT milk, pleasantly tasty, we are now selecting without hesitation.

Technology feels less sophisticated/prevalent in Spain than it did in France. We found we had to use cash more frequently, plastic had been accepted in almost every instance in France. We were able to use plastic to pay at the supermarket but no technology for self service checkout: not at this supermarket. As we only visited this one supermarket, not at any supermarket we visited in Spain.


No self service checkouts. All manned or womaned, which is really annoying when you only have five items.

Those men and women on the check out were throwing plastic bags at shoppers, like confetti. No thought of saving the oceans, no encouragement to BYO, no reusable examples for sale at the till. Shame, Spain, Verguenza.


Lock up parking station for your shopping trolley. Well I’ve never seen that before.



San Sebastian-The entree

San Sebastian is home to just less than 200,000 people. Apparently, those people eat very well. Nine restaurants within the towns borders have been awarded 16 Michelin stars. I have read that this is the highest volume of stars per capita, in the World. I have also read that it is the second highest volume of stars per square metre (behind Tokyo). I am not sure of the ranking of Michelin stars relative to hours of sunshine or average life expectancy,  but I do believe that statistics are important. Given that these things are counted (not my hypothetical relativities, but the per capita and per metre ones) it indicates the food should be quite nice here.


How would this neat lettering translate at the table?

Very well indeed. Photogenically well, and in the eating, as wonderful as in the images here.


The last one is goats cheese ice cream served on a slice of cheese and lots of those little bits around. Goats cheese ice cream! Can you imagine? It was fantastic. The entire meal was fantastic. And what did we see while we were sat at our table eating this? Well each other and a vista…..

The restaurant is perched on a hill overlooking San Sebastian and perching helped with the naming of the restaurant: Mirador de Ulia. We were  very pleased with our luncheon. Actually, more than pleased. We are confident that anyone who chooses to eat here will be very satisfied with that decision. Oh for those financially focussed Euros 100 each for the food and we shared a wine matching at Euros 75.