San Sebastian or Bilbao? Our Results...

May 15th, 2017, 10:49 AM
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 1,144
I'm with Mikel! Bilbao would still be great without the Guggenheim. There are a dozen other museums in the city worth visiting (try Museo de Bellas Artes) and whos collections are impressive. And where else can you find a Hanging Bridge (Puente de Vizcaya)?
Robert2016 is offline  
May 15th, 2017, 11:52 AM
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Well, I´d trust more the opinion of a local instead of the opinion of a foreign person, even if writing for the BBC. The old quarter of SS is widely rejected by locals and they can hardly be seen in many bars of this area, as they are coped with tourists. That is not (yet) the case of Bilbao. SS was genuine some years ago, now it´s becoming a city designed to please the tourist (at least, in the most visited areas). I´m lucky to know lots of people there and there´s much worry about the "gentrification" process (areas in town where the apartments turn into hostels or tourist ones and the locals get expelled due to high prices), the city hall is debating this matter as urgent. Not (yet) in Bilbao, but I´m sure it´ll arrive some day.

And, obviously, the ETA cease fire helped SS as much as Bilbao (being SS much more radical and with more "problems" than Bilbao at the time).
mikelg is online now  
May 15th, 2017, 12:17 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
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I just cited one article that mentioned the "Bilbao Effect."

I have no problem with Bilbao, it is the word authentic that I always find irksome.

If Bilbao spent millions transforming the city from a tough industrial town, down on its luck, to an enticing community, then how could that be considered genuine?
IMDonehere is offline  
May 15th, 2017, 12:25 PM
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And sometimes, not always, people from the outside see things clearer than those involved and in this instance, it does not include me.
IMDonehere is offline  
May 15th, 2017, 01:21 PM
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Bilbao pulled off a miracle when it cleaned up the old ship buliding yards that streatched along the river. I would not have believed it if I had seen the area with my own eyes. It was a major eyesore, industrial waste for miles, like the old steel mills that ran from Pittsburgh to Ambridge and beyond. The change has been amazing to say the least. What's there now is genuine, the spirit of Bilbao.
Robert2016 is offline  
May 15th, 2017, 01:35 PM
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Whatever other attractions Bilbao had / has, if it wasn't for the Guggenheim
we wouldn't have visited on a day trip from Santander ( some 8 years ago)
I would gladly visit again.
danon is offline  
May 15th, 2017, 01:48 PM
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What's there now is genuine, the spirit of Bilbao.
"And if I am elected, I will also promise to blah, blah, blah."
IMDonehere is offline  
May 15th, 2017, 09:42 PM
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blah, blah, blah sounds good if you're a Trumper.
Robert2016 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2017, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Headed to SS for a week in July. We will be attending cooking school for 3 days and then will do some day trips. Hoping your ideas will help.
Ifnotnow_when is offline  
Jun 5th, 2017, 03:50 AM
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With all respect Mikel, San Sebastián has been designed to pleas tourists for a very long time, at least from the beginning of the last century with the construction of the casinos, the luxcury hotels, the bullring, the fun fair, the explosion of tabernas, bars, cinemas, film cafés, the jazz and foxtrot places, the public dances etc. etc. In the 1920's there were about 500 000 visitors annualy on average, 40 - 50 000 tourist every month in small San Sebastián, and of course much more in the summer months.

That is IMO very much the "genuine" San Sebastián, a city that lives on and for attracting visitors to a place that most locals are very proud of for very good reasons. Of course there are always things happening that could and should be critizised, for example the recent introduction of a so called "pintxos pass" which gives the holder a fixed route for preselected and prepayed pintxos in the Parte Vieja, haven't heard of a worse and more boring idea in decades.

But on my last visit to San Sebastián in October 2015, it was as "genuine" as ever, fabulous atmosphere and mostly locals even in the Parte vieja, although a few of them, God forgive, even sat down to have their pintxos ;-)

I recommend Felix Luengo's "San Sebastián. La vida cotidiana de una ciudad. De su destrucción a la ciudad contemporánea", (Ed. Txertoa, San Sebastián, 2000). He writes of, among many other interesting things, "Turismo y ocio" in the second half of the 19th century and "La nueva Sociedad" of the 1901-1923 tourist boom period when my grandfather lived here:
kimhe is offline  
Jun 5th, 2017, 07:54 AM
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You´re right, Kimhe...but I miss those times when things were not made almost exclusively for tourism. We are lucky to live in the Basque Country, which has lots of unspoilt places (and I hope they´ll remain as such for a long time). Bilbao is getting close to being a "trendy" city now, and I´ve noticed how many places are focusing prices and products in tourism. For example, Sangría, which is something that we never have, is now being offered in a good number of places (just because tourists demand it wrongly thinking it´s something popular over here). Or how timetables of restaurants is changing and you can have dinner in some places at 8pm, which was just unthinkable a couple of years ago and goes against our tradition. But, alas!, business is business and I also live from tourism, so who am I to complain...
mikelg is online now  
Jun 5th, 2017, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
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hehe, Mikel ;-) and I just hope that San Sebastián use more than hundred years of experience as a tourist destination to continue to develop things in a somewhat sensible and balanced way.

Saw the Europe Movement here in Norway (yes, that actually exists...) announced the other day that they were going for a gourmet tour to the Basque Country and the Bordeaux region, but my enthusiasm somewhat collapsed when they proudly declared that in Bilbao they would go the fashionable Laruzz restaurant which is known for excellent paellas, rice dishes and Mediterranean cuisine. I'm sure that Larruzz is an excellent place, but señores, por favor, don't go to the Basque Country to have paella. So, of course traditions and history matter, and people would probably have more fun traveling if they were aware of the particular traditions and history in for example Euskadi.
kimhe is offline  
Jun 5th, 2017, 09:03 AM
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Urgh, Larruzz is part of a franchise that pre-cooks paellas somewhere in an industrial area and then takes them to the restaurant to be finished in an oven...I´d never have paella in the Basque fact, almost nowhere in Spain except the mid mediterranean area.

Yes, this is not "Spain", it´s another world...hard to explain sometimes when there´s been decades of "paella, sun, sangría and bullfights".
mikelg is online now  
Jun 5th, 2017, 01:00 PM
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kimhe is offline  
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