11 January 2010

Alans Column in the Leinster Leader

Schnitzel’s European Adventures.

Apologies for the lame title, it just came to me and I giggled so I felt I had to go with it, to share my giggle with the few who might enjoy crap puns. Anyway, after a very small amount of thought you may have come to the conclusion that this article is about Bilbao and that I thought it was brilliant, and you’d be right. So brilliant in fact that I decided to devote this weeks article to it fully.
Here is a city gleaming with self pride, street cleaners work at every hour of the day keeping the place looking ready for the arrival of the Queen of England who is notoriously fussy about tidy streets. In Bilbao the word architecture means ‘to build something interesting as we have to look at it everyday’ as opposed to Irelands philosophy of ‘lob it up quick there and sell it off’. The most obvious example of this is the phenomenal Guggenheim Museum. It might be an original thing to do here to talk about some less obvious more quirky choice of building. But I just don’t want to, this building should be talked about a lot, it is fantastic, almost using the word literally like it is out of fantasy of the imagination. It is so perfectly bonkers, so intellectually idiotic, so beautfully absurd and altogether bizarre. If you have not seen the structure get a ticket to Bilbao or at very least look at it on your trusty interweb.
It is almost like the designer gave a piece of paper and a crayon to a four year old and put the child on a sea saw and told him to draw a big house. This little experiment turned out to be stunning to the eye, it is not rare to see people standing, staring and gasping, not so much forgetting to breath but perhaps trying to breath the magnificence in. After staring at it for some time you come to the conclusion that you want to climb to the top, grease yourself up, and then slide down to see where it takes you. You could literally sit and look at this edifice all day let alone the art it holds on its interior walls.
The greatness of Bilbao is certainly its architecture. They didn’t just build the Guggenheim and then say ‘sure that’s enough’. they really put effort into many of their designs. Shadowed in Bilbao, some of these buildings would much better cause a stir in a different city.
I did have my issues in Bilbao. I wanted breakfast but I could not get anything that even resembled a decent first meal of the day. At first I was put out by the smoke in all the cafés, this is one of the worst things about Spain, they are yet to bring in the smoking ban, and you forget the huge difference it actually makes, eventually I got a Spanish omellette but it was not good, seemingly Spanish omellettes are great unless they are actually Spanish. Here they serve them cold, the inside is wet with egg or cheese I don’t know but it was a struggle to eat. Anyway I laboured through it and went back outside to look at the hefty man made objects.
(Email: alanbennett8@hotmail.com for comments or suggestions.)

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