Phil André es un británico que tiene una web que nos ha parecido una joya; In Search of Unusual Destinations. Se trata de una recopilación de destinos poco comunes, miradas diferentes a rincones y entornos que no suelen salir en las guías de turismo y que no solemos conocer de los lugares que visitamos, pero que no por ello dejan de tener una belleza y un interés extraordinario.

Todos hemos tenido alguna vez la vivencia de andar por una ciudad como turistas o visitantes y en un despiste, llegar a un lugar que no aparece en las guías pero que nos ha parecido mágico. Bien, pues Phil André lo que hace es viajar a la caza de esos lugares, con el objetivo claro de hacer un turismo diferente.

Este mes de noviembre, lluvioso noviembre, se ha acercado por Bilbao y nos ofrece una mirada diferente de la ciudad. Sin huir de lo más conocido, lo que atrae el a 99,99% de los visitantes, pero ofreciéndonos una visión poderosa, llena de belleza de lugares donde, igual es un error, nunca llevaría un bilbaino a un amigo que viene a visitar la ciudad, como podría ser los paseos de Lamiako a Erandio, o Por Bilbao la Vieja, que son la base de dos de su post. Decimos que es un error, porque después de ver las extraordinarias fotos que ha ido recopilando  Phil André , tenemos que aceptar que hay mucha belleza más allá de lo que a nosotros, o a las guías de turismo, les parece bello.

Son varios artículos, nosotros se los dejamos en orden de aparición. Por cierto los textos de presentación desde el primero de ellos, no tienen desperdicio.

In Search of Unusual Destinations – 28/11/2013 – Gran Bretaña

Bilbao, the Basque Country, Spain

I need to briefly discuss whether Bilbao is an unusual destination or not. In some respects it is not, because Bilbao is a large and well-known city graced with Frank Gehry’s immense and iconic Museo Guggenheim overlooking the river to the north-west of the pretty Casco Viejo (old town), and because, a few miles downstream from the Guggenheim, the views are dominated by a UNESCO world heritage site, the equally iconic Puente Colgante, or the Hanging Bridge, the world’s oldest transporter bridge dating from 1893. But in other respects Bilbao is an unusual destination. Very few foreign visitors stay in the city (unless they are on business or watching a football match involving the home team of Athletic Bilbao) because, if you want to experience urban Spain, you are far more likely to travel to more famous (and prettier?) Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Granada or Cordoba. Moreover, if visitors seek something urban but less conventional/predictable than Madrid, etc., they will select Malaga, Salamanca or Santiago de Compostela before Bilbao, if only because the weather is more predictable in the three cities just identified (this said, it was the persistent November rain which, for me at least, helped make Bilbao such an enchanting city.

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In Search of Unusual Destinations – 30/11/2013 – Gran Bretaña

San Francisco and La Vieja, Bilbao, the Basque Country, Spain

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Bilbao la Vieja
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Although Bilbao’s inner city districts of Casco Viejo, Indautxu, Abando and Iralabarri are overwhelmingly respectable in character, San Francisco and La Vieja, just to the south-east of the railway stations, are more edgy because this is where some alcoholics, drug dealers, drug addicts, pimps, prostitutes and petty criminals hang around in shadowy bars, cafes and night clubs and on street corners. But San Francisco and La Vieja are also vibrantly multi-ethnic areas where people from South America, Central America, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe live because housing is cheaper than in other parts of the city. Shops, small supermarkets, cafes and restaurants, some of the latter alcohol-free with halal food for Muslims, meet the needs of people from about fifty different countries.

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In Search of Unusual Destinations – 2/12/2013 – Gran Bretaña

Lamiako to Erandio, Bilbao, the Basque Country, Spain

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De Lamiako a Erandio
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Any journey on the metro from the city centre to the riverside suburbs or small towns along the coast will reveal what remains of Bilbao’s once-enviable dependence on heavy industry, heavy industry which included shipbuilding, engineering and iron and steel manufacture. Much has been done in recent years to remove evidence of the abandoned rust-bucket industrial sites, but, between Lamiako in the north and Erandio in the south, enough survives to interest people with an affection for edgelands, sacrifice zones and similar rundown, marginal and shunned places (see an earlier post entitled “Edgelands and Sacrifice Zones: Turkey, United Kingdom, etc.” for a description of what an edgeland or sacrifice zone might be).

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In Search of Unusual Destinations – 8/12/2013 – Gran Bretaña

Bilbao and its immediate surroundings, the Basque Country, Spain.

You can tell that Bilbao and its immediate surroundings made quite an impression on me, but it is now time to say farewell with this, the fourth post devoted to the city and its riverside settlements leading to the sea in the north. Here you will find a few photos which try to engage with both the conventional as well as the idiosyncratic. Photos embrace murals, churches, the river, Alhondhiga Bilbao, Areeta, the area close to Museo Guggenheim, and the one-time fishing port of Algorta. It was difficult narrowing down the photos to about ten because there is so much to enjoy in this, one of Spain’s least Spanish urban and suburban areas. Not that there is anything “wrong” with things overtly, proudly and passionately Spanish (far from it, as earlier posts confirm, I hope); it is just that Bilbao is definitely something a little less ordinary.

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