Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Monday, September 20, 1999 2:13 AM
Subject: Sept 9-11: Bilbao and San Sebastian, Spain!

Sept 9, 1999

I arrived in Bilbao, Spain at 6am...again, somewhat gamy from 2 consecutive overnight trains and in serious need of a shower...

Now, you may not have heard of Bilbao, Spain...a somewhat industrial town in Northern Spain...but it is the location of the new Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art!

Walking up to the Guggenheim is somewhat awesome...I walked up about 7:30am and the first thing I saw in the morning was a 40 foot teddy bear made out of flowers! Now, I am not exagerrating (sp?)! They have the biggest Chia Pet in the world infront of the new Guggenheim! It is a huge teddy bear figure, that is completely made of different colored flowers ontop of somekind of Chia growing surface...really strange!

The Guggenheim building itself is a monument...many people think it is a better piece of artwork than anything inside...and for my money, that is probably true! It is hard to describe...kinda like the Sydney Opera House mated with a Titanium cruise ship...and had a baby. ...go find a picture on the internet or in a local artsy fartsy bookstore...it is worth the effort.

Inside housed some very interesting modern artwork...I was somewhat impressed...but like with much "modern art"...some things didn't impress me...I mean, a picture with a black square and a blue cirle doesn't look like great art to me...it looks like I could have done it in 2nd grade and I wonder how these guys get "noticed"...hmmm...by impressing 1st graders? I don't know...anyway...they are probably millionaires for making circles and squares, wearing black clothing, quoting poetry with much angst, and I am just a poor backpacker paying $5 dollars to see their works...don't you know these guys are just laughing their little beret wearing heads off??!!!

Anyway, after visiting the museum, I said goodbye to the big Chia Bear and went to San Sebastian. Now, San Sebastian, Spain is the quintessential seaside resort town! It is in a huge crescent shaped harbor/cove with an island in the middle...and the beaches are the entire length of the crescent...it has a Christ statue on the hill above the town (something like the famous Corcovado statue that overlooks Rio de Janiero), it has beautiful cathedrals, and an absolutely raging nightlife!

...all this being said...all I was looking for when I hit town was a freaking shower! I was practically lethal from 10 feet I smelled so bad! anyway, I stayed at the big hostel in town (walking distance to the
beach)...and showered...and slept...I was feeling somewhat ill...and needed to crash.

Sept 10, 1999

...hmmmmm...wokeup somewhat weak...not used to feeling like a sick puppy...but hey, the road takes it's toll...walked around town...wasn't into the whole social touristy thing...basically had a quiet day.

That night I felt like I needed soul food to rejuvenate me...so I went to the local butcher and bought a STEAK...and a pound cake. Now, steak and pound cake may not seem to be a good combination to ya'll...but believe me...it was a feast. And, yes, again I was surrounded in the Hostel kitchen by vegetarians and pasta eaters while I gorged on my steak...ahhhhh...it was fabulous. At dinner I met several folks, including Catherine from Brussels and Clare from Australia...we all went out as a group that night and had a good time in the old section of town where the place is just rotten with bars! They are literally ontop of eachother. I was still weak...and called it an early night around 1:30am...

Sept 11, 1999
Schedule for the day: Wake...breakfast...beach...tapas...
Acutal events: Woke...breakfast...beach...tapas...

Day considered: A success!

The only downside to this lovely day was while swimming to the island in the center of the bay, I managed to get mildly stung on the wrist by a jellyfish...not too bad...just stung a little and caused some irritation.
NO, I did not do a "Friends" and have to have someone pee on it...the lifeguard/firstaid gal had an ammonia solution that she swabbed it with...guess it is not that uncommon.

That evening I left with several others to catch the overnight train to Paris...I was going there to connect to another train to Cherborg, France to catch a ferry to Ireland...Clare from Australia was on the same train...we started talking and she said she was going to Paris...but didn't really want to spend time there...I said she was welcome to go to Ireland with me if she wanted...and thus another travel partnership was born...we were on our way to Ireland!
Doug