We were excited about today’s destination: Bilbao. The week before starting the Camino, Dale and I had spent a night in Bilbao with our friend Tamara, and it had been a great experience. We stayed at an Air B&B apartment in the city’s historic city center, known as the Seven Streets, and it was charming, with lots of restaurants, panaderias, pastelerias, and even a chocolateria or two. And it was in Bilbao that we were introduced to the sublime pleasure of eating Basque food.
It was bound to happen at some point during the hike: total meltdown.
All the PMA that I had channeled on the previous days wasn’t going to get me anywhere today. Not meditation, not smiling, not listening to the wind flowing through the branches or the birds singing in the trees. Uh-uh. None of it was working.
While based in Rotterdam in August, we spent a day sightseeing at The Hague. Neither of us was exactly sure what The Hague actually was. We both thought it was some sort of nebulous international entity, but as it turns out it is actually a pretty large city in northern Holland.
At the end of World War II, Rotterdam, like many European cities, was in ruins. But the city rebuilt itself admirably and now prides itself on its cutting-edge architecture.
One example of unique Rotterdam architecture is the Kubuswoningen, or Cube Houses (also called Tree Houses). Built by Dutch architect Piet Blom in the 1980s, they’re meant to represent a village of trees. There are 38 of these “tree” houses, each in the shape of a cube. Three sides of the cube are facing up, and three are facing down. Each house contains three floors (not including the ground-floor entrance). The first floor has a kitchen and living room; the second floor has two bedrooms and a bathroom; and there’s an open space on the third floor that can be used for an office or another bedroom. The walls and windows are at a 54.7 degree angle. Each structure has around 1000 square feet of space, but about 25% of that can’t be used because of the angled walls and ceilings.
Unlike most of Rotterdam, the borough of Delfshaven survived the Rotterdam Blitz in 1940, leaving its centuries-old buildings intact.
This charming neighborhood was once an independent town before being annexed by Rotterdam in the 19th century. Historically, it was a busy port (Delfshaven means “Port of Delf”). Its main industries were herring fishing, shipbuilding, and the distilling of gin, and it was also an important location for the East India Company, both as a port and for warehousing goods.