The Bay of Biscay in Northern Spain has a stormy reputation because the continental shelf extends for a considerable distance. However, once we disembark from a cruise ship in Bilbao’s impressive port. Or land at its remarkable air terminal we find ourselves in a pleasant oceanic climate. This promises mild weather throughout the year ideal for RV holidays. We collect our immaculately turned-out rental motorhome at Bilbao Airport and head for town for an early lunch.
Pure Architectural Seduction – Bilbao Guggenheim Museum
We have decided to focus our attention on the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, and then head east along the coast. Because to be honest motorhomes and city gridlocks do not make the best partnerships. The Guggenheim is an unusual collection of buildings and shapes on the tranquil bank of the Nervión River. Inside is an even more unusual collection of contemporary art. The museum complements this with a series of ever-changing thematic exhibitions.
The building, opened in 1991 is worth a visit just to admire the architecture. Architecture that has rightly deserved the accolades ‘a masterpiece of the 20th century’ and ‘a fantastic dream ship of undulating form in a cloak of titanium.’ It single handedly kick-started the rejuvenation of an old industrial city on the Bay of Biscay. Moreover it added huge value to the public purse by attracting a million visitors annually.
A Pleasant Evening in the Basque Capital of Bilbao
After a light lunch on the museum’s Bistro Terrace, we head for a motor caravan and camping park, with 80 spaces and magnificent views across the city. We decide to spend the evening there as the adjoining hostel serves buffet dinners and breakfasts. Then we retire for a night of scrabble courtesy their board game loan service. This is the life, we decide. No hassle living and we sleep in our own beds throughout our camper van holiday.
Onward to Bordeaux on the Bay of Biscay
The French border is some 120 kilometres (75 miles) away near Irun. Having EU visas for Spain made the transition seamless and we were soon on our way again. The coastline turns sharply north as we head for Bordeaux 220 kilometres (140 miles) away on the Garonne River. This is the heart of the country’s wine industry where we plan to spend a few delightful days.
We Decide to Extend our Journey to Nantes through Rochelle
We had originally intended to return our rental motorhome to the depot in Bordeaux but decided to defer Paris for a few more days. A quick call to the agent and everything was in place. Now we could explore legends of the Knights Templar in La Rochelle, and la belle cuisine in Nantes by the riverside on the Bay of Biscay.
With stops, the 680 kilometre (425 mile) journey from Bilbao to Nantes took six days and seven nights well spent. Within half an hour of returning the rental camper van in Nantes, we were on our way to the Atlantique Airport by comfortable, express shuttle bus.