A Brief Account: Like We Needed to Get Lost for Nth Time

The last day we conducted our “official derive” which was brilliant because if we got lost that was point so well done us when we did get lost. Starting from old town at the end of the derive were some where way north (we think).

Our derive and where we thought we were

Ultimately I have only a have a rough idea of the path we took to these 3 different destinations and given the length of the journey it is possible we walked all of Bilbao going from place to place. What we did see was an up and down see saw effect from what looked like run down areas to well maintained communities although in the south there were numerous abandoned industrial buildings which had fallen into disrepair interestingly these were located next a handful of educational inst

Disrepair Building on corner

We followed 10 directions per person – 50 in total. These directions varied from “straight for 5 minutes” and “next left then right” to “follow the direction of the wind for 2 minutes” or  “walk until you see a dog or Athletic Club flag” of course these did get us good and lost as the map can attest to.

Of course we made it back safe and to be expect wet and cold.

The last “day”

We then left the hotel in the early hours of the morning got a plane or two and relaxed; this journey can be summed below.

The way home was long.



A Brief Account: Guggenheim Day

The 3rd day will forever be known as “Guggenheim day” or “let’s get lost in the not so nice looking neighbourhood (based on our false preconceptions of European slums and our middle class up bringing) and all have the same concerns for wellbeing but not voice them till we get back to the hotel Day” so let’s go with “Guggenheim Day”. This time we didn’t get lost on our journey to the Guggenheim, walking along the eastside of the river we got some really good views of city and I came of this bit of internet trivia which made me smile knowing that pointless internet “inside jokes” do truly translate.


There were more instances of their use of recreational space such as parks being based on concrete and steel instead of “natural” grass areas as well interesting where builds appear to have just been removed like a city of Lego bricks awaiting another building to be clip into place.

Lego Buildings

As for Guggenheim, it was uniquely pleasing aesthetically from the outside and the same can be said for the architecture on the inside. I am aware that Jason has covered the art contain within the Guggenheim to a great extent, however I would like to briefly touch upon the lack of Basque art displayed there. Of course the Guggenheim is an international gallery and has set exhibitions from all over the world; however it boasts a selection of local Basque artists and on our visit only one piece could be found.

Edward Chilida – Embrace XI – Steel
(San Sebastian 1924 – 2002).

On our way back we crossed La Salve Bridge to walk back along the west side of the river back to the hotel working of a basic (which looking back know was probably a tourist map) I got us lost and accidentally took us back through an interesting area to the north Bilbao. Housing on the hills look like it could be quite expensive and just over the road were again more giant accommodation tower blocks.

Nice looking houses

Flat Tower Block

So yea we got lost again, and it was also very wet again.



Urban Dictionary (2012) Urban Dictionary: Trololo [online] available from <http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Trololo&defid=4773716> [3/25 2012]

A Brief Account: Athletic vs. Espanyol

On the second day we set off to explore the city centre and did a quick scout around the stadium as this was match day Athletic Club vs. Espanyol. We spent a lot of time walking around the city centre taking note of the how the city had been physically built. Giant accommodation tower blocks sitting on top of shops all tightly packed close together with very little space (if any) between one block to the next. Must had a small alcove either for pedestrian or car access often they had a relatively small sculpture/ piece of art placed at the centre and for the most part they were surrounded by graffiti.

Entrance and Graffiti

Statue with Graffiti

Don’t listen to what anyone else tells you, on our way to the Athletic Club Stadium “La Catedral” we got lost loads and I mean loads, far too many to count. Getting lost is something we did most of all to be honest, this may have been down to my terrible map and sense of direction but what it provided was basically an unintentional derive a day.

The Stadium is modest, with ticket booths, a rear entrance for players and a small official gift shop all other space is dedicated to the game and the fans. We had found many small but long bars proudly flying the Athletic Club and Basque flags and we watch the game from one close to the stadium. Close enough that if you were to stick your head outside bar for moment you could hear the cheers from the stadium.

Athletic Club

Personally while I couldn’t understand what the supporters in the bar were saying, moaning or in some cases yelling at the television it appear that the crowd in the bar shared many characteristics with any other bar in England when the football game is on. However there were far more children and families together watching in the bar late at night than expected. No matter what the passion was certainly felt. The last thing of note in this bar was “ETA” scratched/burned/graffiti into the bathroom ceiling.

"E.T.A." in the bathroom of a bar in Bilbao

What was brilliant to see was not only that there were Athletic Club and Basque flags everywhere which has already been mentioned (not a single other football club flag to be seen) but also getting swept up in the crowd on the way to the game surrounded by scarf’s, flags being worn proudly and Athletic Club jerseys.

Athletic Club and Basque Flags

Athletic Club Supporters

The game finished 3-3 which is why we would imagine the fans on the way out of the stadium were demonstrating the stereotypical passionate exuberance of Spanish football fandom.

Oh and we got lost on the way back to the hotel again, it was also very wet.



IMScouting (2012) Athletic Club Vs. Espanyol [online] available from <http://www.imscouting.com/match-highlight/feb-4-2012-athletic-club-vs-espanyol-spain-primera-division/1003400/> [3/25 2012]

A Brief Account: When We Landed

While my account of Bilbao may be similar to the others who also conducted our field research and it was over a month ago, but here is a brief account of my (and the groups) short time in Bilbao, Spain. This brief account has been sourced and elaborated on from hand written notes by myself and my clearly impeccable memory.

The first day was terrifying (personally), my Basque was bad and my Spanish no better. We found our hotel and did all that stuff that you don’t need to know about. What was of note however was the taxi ride was over to Old Town from the airport, there was an extensive amount of graffiti on the bridges leading towards the city centre while most of them looked like individual artists “tags” as mentioned in another post there was also a lot of Anarchy symbols on the route in and across the city in fact. Of course after visiting the southern areas of Spain it could be suggested that this is not linked to any form of Basque freedom but a simple and popular symbol to graffiti. Of course there were some definitely interesting pictures to be taken on the out skirts of the city limits.

Graffiti on the way to Old Town


Aahhh Bilbao….. Part 3

Monday 6 February

We tried one of the Derive tasks – Random directions. We all wrote some directions on a piece of paper and followed it to see where it took us. Below are the directions and some pictures I took on the way.

1. Turn Left

2. Go straight for 5 mins

3. Turn right

4. Go straight for 10 mins

5. Turn left

6. Go straight for 2 mins

7. Straight till underpass

8. Turn right

9. Go uphill for 20 metres

10. Turn right at T-Junction

11. Straight for 30 metres

12. Stop at service station

13. Straight for 2 mins

14. Right for 1 min

15. Straight until we see a dog

16. Right until we see Athletic flag, scarf, badge, colours

17. Straight for 5 mins

18. Turn left and go Straight

19. Go straight for 5 mins

20. Turn right and go to the last left

21. Go straight and pass 4 left turns

22. Turn right

23. Go straight for 5 mins

24. Take 3rd right

25. Take 2nd right

26. Straight for 4 mins

27. Turn left

28. Straight for 3mins

29. Turn right

30. Destination

All pictures taken by Jason Kurmoo


Aahhh Bilbao….. Part 2

Saturday 4 February

Match day between Athletic Club Bilbao and Espanyol. We decide to walk from our hotel to the stadium aided by a map and in the hope we can see different parts of the city.

One point to mention is everyone (that is a football fan in some way) appears to be an Athletic Bilbao fan and not just for match day, as we see many shops and flats displaying the club flag:


All pictures taken by Jason Kurmoo

Not once did I see any other football teams colours being displayed including the all-conquering Barcelona or Real Madrid or local rivalry team, Real Sociadad. The club appears to have the cities people backing the club completely which must have deeper meanings that we must find out through more research.

Attempting to walk to the Athletic Bilbao stadium was very simple although we got lost 2 or 3 times again and again the locals were friendly and approached us to offer assistance! Walking to the stadium in Coventry would not be quite so easy as there are too many main roads on the route, but in Bilbao a city that is easy to walk with the stadium at the end of the city’s centre was very pleasant and after the match it was like a carnival walking back to the hotel as everyone took the same route back stopping at various bars to drink and socialise.

Sunday 5 February

We visit the Guggenheim, which looks spectacular from the outside:

All pictures taken by Jason Kurmoo

From the inside, the Guggenheim is like Dr. Who’s Tardis, it is huge with so many galleries to view sculptures and art. I focused on the artists who used ideas on space – Richard Serra and Constantin Brancusi.


Aahhh Bilbao….. Part 1

As part of my role as field researcher within our group, I kept a diary of what we did in our few days in Bilbao as a tool to help keep notes on what we found out. As such, I will write this post similar to diary style.

Friday 3 February

Our journey began in the early hours of the morning with snow coming down from the sky’s and arrived at the airport slightly tired but prepared for some research away from the computer and books. Once we arrived at Bilbao airport, the view from the airport looked like we had arrived at some alpine ski resort with some magnificent big green mountains and in the distance, mountains with snow-covered tops.

My first chance to try some spanish arrived when I tried to ask the taxi driver if he knew how to get to our hotel. This quickly went from the standard “Hola” to “can you take us here please?” and showing the taxi driver the hotel address on paper!

As the taxi driver drove us to the hotel, it was interesting to see us travelling down the winding mountain (if only my camera was not packed at the bottom of my bag!), eventually being able to see the inner city where you could instantly see many high-rise flats, the iconic La Salve bridge next to the Guggenheim, and endless buildings with not much space for anything else. We kept travelling in a winding motion down this mountainous area until we finally hit “old town” where we were staying and again I noted how pedestrian locals appeared to have control of the roads. They would step out in the road……and cars would stop!!! Back home cars will only stop if they have to because the road laws tell them to stop at zebra crossings for example, but here in Bilbao, it looked like cars had no problem stopping for the pedestrians and waiting until they had cleared the road. Once our taxi driver stopped, he told us he cannot get any nearer to our hotel but it is just round the corner, so we paid and got out…….and instantly got lost!! Luckily a local woman saw we were confused and asked us in English where we were trying to go, (we were literally 2 minutes away). My thoughts were how friendly the locals appeared to be as the woman did not have to offer to help us. I guess that’s what I am used to living in a major city in England.

We got ourselves settled and then ventured out to get our bearings on where we will be living and see where to eat locally. We found a few local restaurants and shops we thought we would go to but many were closed and the streets were very quiet. It was only around 4pm and a Friday so we were not sure why it was so quiet. It could not have been siesta as that normally happens around midday, but we decided to go back to our rooms and come back to a restaurant we saw earlier to eat.

When we come back out at around 6pm, the streets are busy and many businesses have reopened! We arrive at our chosen restaurant to find that the cheaper prices we saw advertised earlier had changed and were now quite expensive for an evening meal. As we needed to budget for the remainder of our stay, we decided to find something cheaper, ie fast food. This proved difficult as “old town” does not have many fast food places and as we were hungry and tired we would quite happily settle for anything, eventually eating at a pizza place. Looking around as we walked through “old town”, I could see that the people were quite diverse, Spanish people, African people and Eastern European. I honestly never thought before I came that it would be so diverse as my initial research gave me the impression that it was a very tight community city and so I expected a lot of Bilbao locals with a community of people from mainland Spain.

As with all cities, there were buildings with graffiti:

All pictures taken by Jason Kurmoo

I also observed that Bilbao uses space differently to cities that I am used to. Pathways are very narrow and buildings are tall:


  All pictures taken by Jason Kurmoo