007 Travel story: Bilbao (SPAIN), Biarritz (FRANCE) 2011

007 Travel story: Bilbao (SPAIN), Biarritz (FRANCE) 2011

October 30, 2013 1 By 007 Travelers

Spain: Bilbao and France: Biarritz from 5th to 10th of November 2011.

Bond visiting locations from the Pierce Brosnan movie “The World Is Not Enough“.
Quotes from Raymond Benson book “The World Is Not Enough“.

Pirita´s and Mika´s own trip for two

: Lufthansa, flights Helsinki-Munich-Bilbao-Munich-Helsinki,
222,83€ + Ticket Service charge 10,00€ / person

Flight time
: Helsinki-Munich 2h 40min, Munich-Bilbao 2h 15min

Sercotel Coliseo, Alameda de Urquijo, 13, Bilbao, Spain
158,00€ / 2 nights, no breakfast included, booked via booking.com

Les Alizes, 13 Rue Du Port Vieux, Biarritz, France
75,00€ / 1 night, breakfast 7€ / person , booked via booking.com

Hotel Hesperia Bilbao, Campo Volantin, 28, Bilbao, Spain
179,00€ / 2 nights, incl. breakfast, booked via booking.com

“The World Is Not Enough…”

(Did you know: The film’s title, “The World is Not Enough” is the translation of the Latin motto, “Orbis non sufficit”, given to George Lazenby‘s Bond when he researches his own coat of arms in the 1969 film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.)

photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC


photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

(Did you know: The opening scene shows us the stunning Guggenheim, the shot was taken from Calle Iparraguirre. Just seconds before we hatch Bond walking on the street, this sequence was taken at the corner of Calle Henao.)

Saturday 5th of November 2011


Lufthansa airplane took off from Helsinki at 1.05 PM and landed at Franz-Josef-Strauss airport in Munich roughly 2.45 PM (The times are always local time). We were delighted to see that there was red wine for free at the plane. And you got more when your glass was almost empty. On a flight to Germany we got some mushroom pizza. At Munich, we had half an hour to change the plane. We had to use airport shuttle bus instead of ”gate arrival” and it took a bit more time. Flight from Munich departed at 3.20 PM and arrived in Northern Spain, Bilbao, about 5.35 PM.

Taxi took us from Bilbao airport to center of Bilbao.

“As he rode in the taxi from Bilbao’s airport, James Bond’s recollection of M’s orders was clear enough. Bring back Sir Robert’s money.”

Taxi ride cost about 24 euros including tips. It was raining in Bilbao, temperature + 15 °C. We checked in to hotel Sercotel Coliseo (Alameda de Urquijo, 13), 4th floor, room number 417. As soon as we left luggage to the room, we went out to explore the city. Rain got heavier, so we headed to the nearest food place we found, which was Don Jamon. We wondered a while how we should order food, but finally realized the process… We ordered Nuggets de Pollo – Chicken and nuggets (4,50 euros) and small beer (2 euros) and we both ate half of the meal, since the portion size was big enough.

Sunday 6th of November 2011

Egun on!

Morning was very windy and rainy. In Spain, the shops are closed on Sundays, so today it was time to explore the attractions. Since hotel breakfast cost was 16 euros / person, we went to the train station (Estacion Abando Indalecio Prieto, also known as North Station). From there we found Pans coffee shop, where people did not speak English and we did not speak Spanish or Euskara. After using Spanish dictionary, we were able to order two rolls and two mini coffees (2 x 4,90 euros.)

Mika & Pirita @ railway station

They played music quite loudly from the radio during breakfast. It was a bit strange to hear a song “Final Countdown” (by: Europe) from the radio. After the breakfast we took photos of the station and soon plenty of other tourists took out their cameras too and started to shoot.

We started to walk towards the Guggenheim Museum (Rights: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation), but on our way we found a 5-star hotel, The Carlton, where Pierce Brosnan stayed while filming ”The World Is Not Enough”. There were plenty of people under their umbrellas, cameras ready, in front of the hotel waiting for something. Also lots of security guards stood in their places. We also stopped and waited to see what was going on. Eventually, we heard the sirens of the police cars and there came FC Barcelona’s bus with team’s soccer players in it. They were treated like rock stars, when they came out of the bus. We were a bit behind the crowd, so we did not get very good pictures. The players went directly to the hotel and then the situation was over in minutes.

After this we continued towards the Guggenheim. Along the way, there was a great Domingo Church, which we admired. That is really close where Bond approaches Guggenheim in film ”The World Is Not Enough“. 

(Did you know: The building opposite the Guggenheim Museum was used as the “La Banque Suisse de L’ Industrie”. It is in fact a law office. You will immediately recognize the building which our hero jumps down from. It was exactly the sixth floor, Bond holding a briefcase with the help of a curtain sash cord.)

photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC
photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

“Taxi passed Alameda de Mazarredo. Nearby it, the shore raises Museum Guggenheim de Arte Contemporáneo, which is currently one of the city’s most famous attractions. One critic has named architect Frank Ghery’s designed titanium surface building as ”Cauliflower, which comes from LSD.

Bond had to admire that shimmering structure, even though it looked to be completely wrong place in the city, which hadn’t acquired a reputation as a favour or the arts. A pity that he did not have time to visit and to take a look at the collections of the house, but he was in Spain for some other reason.

Bond left the taxi at Plaza del Museo and started to walk away from Guggenheim, towards nasty looking office building. There was a brass engraving in the facade, where was a text ”La Banque Suisse de L´Industrie (Privée)”. Below there was a same text in Spanish, German and English.

(But in the movie the brass engraving was a little bit different)

photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

(Did you know: The opening banker sequence was originally set in Havana, Cuba (it includes the Cigar Girl) then was moved to Geneva, Switzerland (the Swiss Bank thing) but was finally set in Bilbao, Spain.)

Bond ran through the open window and jumped out. He squeezed tightly suitcase with one hand and other arm was around the rotating rope. Inside the room, the gorilla started to wake up after the knockout just to see that there was a rope tied to his ankles and other end of the rope was going fast out of the window. He gripped the leg of the desk, when the rope began to tighten.

Bond suddenly stopped falling. Then, the table leg was torn off, and Bond’s weight pulled the gorilla over the oriental carpets and close to the window. A man crashed into the wall just as the police officers rushed through the door with their guns ready.

Outside Bond landed slowly towards the street with the rope and dropped down over a couple of meters above the sidewalk. After turning the street corner, he quickly merged into the crowd of rushing business people who were going to lunch. He was just one of many who were dressed in a suit and tie and carried a suitcase.

Bond looked a building where cigar girl has escaped for a while. Why there was someone who wanted Bond to get out of a room alive?

When thinking this strange turn of events, he decided that maybe he should investigate a modern art a bit after all. When more police officers flooded the bank building, Bond slipped Guggenheim Museum and disappeared”

In front of the Guggenheim museum can be seen a large (12.4 x 12.4 x 8.2 m) “Puppy“- dog. (by Jeff Koons, in 1992). Dog is a West Highland terrier, made of stainless steel, soil and planted flowers.

Entrance admission to the Guggenheim Museum was 11 euros. The exhibition contained Richard Serra‘s works, but there were also works from other artists. We got some equipment, which looked like mobile phones and we were able to type item numbers to them and got some info of the related masterpieces.

There were quite strange works, but it was not allowed to take pictures in the museum.

The building itself is pretty cool, made ​​of titanium. The architectural drawings were completed in 1991, construction began in 1993, and the opening was in 1997.

We could not understand most of the works; maybe we do not just understand that kind of art. Some or the works looked like some child might have done them.

Most amusing, however, was a completely black painting, where was only a small white area on its corner. The work is about the artist’s depressive moment, which however, tells a moment of hope and optimism. That’s the white area’s meaning. In addition, the titles of the most works were also quite odd. The name of one work of art was ”1-68” and we never understood the meaning of it.

We were hungry, but we noticed that the Guggenheim restaurant was full, and probably a table reservation would have been needed. The waiter told us that the whole day was booked, even if it was only a noon. We had to go to museum’s cafe, where we bought chocolate cake pieces with Coke. Cost of this was about 9 euros. After this, we went to museum shop where we found Finnish designers Yrjö Kukkapuro´s model chairs called “Karuselli” and “Ateljee” and they cost almost 300 euros, as well as Eero Aarnio´s “Ball Chair” miniature (normal sized chair’s price is 6440 euros). We didn’t purchase either real or miniature.

When we left the museum, we noticed that it was impossible to use umbrellas. Not actually because of the heavy rain, but the wind was so strong, that umbrellas turned upside down. We almost flew like Mary Poppins. Museum’s marble stairs were really slippery and wet that we had to be really careful. We ran to nearby souvenir shop to make some shopping.

The hotel was not far away, but walking in that weather was not very tempting (at least to Pirita), so we took a taxi. One taxi driver said during our trip, that wearing seatbelts is not obligatory… Hey, we are not using them because of the law, but for our own safety! Barkatu! Taxi ride cost 6 euros, including a tip. Seemed mission impossible to find food at that time and in that weather we didn’t bother to go further to find food, so we took two beers from hotel’s bar cabinet (2 x 3,50 euros) and one Coke (3,50 euros). In situation like this, it would have been nice to have one beltz… But no, we went to sleep as hungry as wolves. Gabon.

Monday 7th of November 2011

It was Pirita’s birthday. We got up early, took one chocolate bar (2,50 eur) and a bottle of water (3,50 eur) from bar cabinet, went out to find a taxi. It took us to the bus station, price was 10 euros. By the way, taxi rides are cheap in Bilbao, but there is a separate charge if you are going to the train station, bus station or the airport. We were ready for a 2 hour and 45 minute bus ride from Bilbao to Biarritz, France. The trip was organized by company called Transportes Pesa. The ticket price was around 18 euros / person. It was a bit hard to find the place where bus was going to leave, so we had to ask from info desk.

During the bus ride we stopped at San Sebastián (officially in Euskara: Donostia – San Sebastián), where the majoriry of the passengers left the bus. When we came to France side, bus stopped in a bus stop and police came in to check the passports. After arriving to Biarritz, we started to walk towards the hotel and along the way there were some souvenir shops, where we made brief stops and bought some souvenirs.

Some fifteen minutes later we arrived to the hotel Les Alizés (13 Rue Du Vieux Port), there was so called ”quick check in”.

We went to fifth floor with tiny elevator and found room number 51, which actually included three different rooms. Bedroom, kind of a dining area and a smaller room for an extra bed. And there were also a toilet / bathroom and a small kitchen + a private balcony with great views to the sea.

The room was cold; probably no one had stayed there for a while. It was warmer outdoors… and tiny rainfall didn’t bother us, when we stepped outside.

First we went by the sea, by the Atlantic Ocean. Bay of Biscay was splashing waves to the shore. Pirita tried the temperature and gut feeling was that it was cold…Still there were some swimmers and surfers. It was November though… Pirita collected some lovely white stones from the beach. We walked along the bridge made by Gustave Eiffel, named Le Rocher de la Vierge and watched spetacular reefs and the statue of Virgin Mary, who protected fishermen. On the other side of the beach, there was a beautiful house called Villa Belza. The waves were really high and we stayed for a moment to watch how amazingly strong the ocean was.

Gustave Eiffel bridge
Villa Belza & Pirita

While we continued our walking tour, we visited the Sainte Eugenie Church. Then we went to look for the post office, had to wait for a while siesta to end, and went in. Staff was very helpful and guided us what kind of stamps we needed to send cards to Finland. Cost of one stamp was 0,77 euros. Post card delivery was quick, because cards were in Finland before we were.

We needed some coffee at this point of day and went to Les Colonnes coffee shop. We bought two coffees, two chocolate ice creams and water, total cost of these were 11,40 euros. While we walked back to the hotel, we discovered wine market Nicolas and purchased a bottle of red wine called Plume, which was only 5 euros and a bottle of Lillet liqueur wine (17,40 euros).

Later in that evening we went to celebrate Pirita’s birthday to the nearby Le Caritz restaurant. Had a glass of red wine, white bread, chicken and vegetables (zucchini) in thyme juice sauce and Crème brûlée as a dessert. After the meal, we took some evening walk and watched the charming scenery of Biarritz.

Tuesday 8th of November 2011

In our hotel, it was possible to purchase a breakfast into the room (only 7 euros!). It consisted of coffee, orange juice, bread, croissants, cereals, yogurt, milk, butter and marmalade. After tasty breakfast we went out, and went to the Sea Museum Aquarium – Muse de la Mer Aquarium, as soon as it opened, 9.30 AM. Admission charge was 13 euros, which was a couple euros more than in Guggenheim Museum. The Sea Museum Aquarium has four floors and we saw some diving and other equipment as well as seals, sea turtles, sharks and other exotic fishes. We were the first visitors in that morning and were able to walk around the corridors, just two of us. A large bus full of students became right after us, so our timing was perfect. There was nice relaxing music coming from loud speakers and one song sounded just like few first chords of Faithless song ”God is a DJ”.

It took about half an hour to visit the museum, and there was a machine, from where it was possible to buy a coin, with an engraved seal of Biarritz. Pay two euros for it and help protecting the nature. And we did. The tour ended into a souvenir shop, and the staff was not ready for us just yet. But, however, we were able to buy souvenirs. Then we headed back to our hotel. On the way to the hotel, there was a bigger souvenir shop and it had a special opening time: 10.40 AM and it had a great selection of everything. For all the lovely souvenirs: The Suitcase Is Not Enough!

After a quick check-out we headed back to Spain by bus. Back in Bilbao, we had another hotel, Hesperia Bilbao (Campo ingots, 28). We were accommodated in the 6th floor, room No. 621.

When we were settled down, we went to a nearby tobacco shop to buy stamps, á 0,65 euros. After that we went to Zubizuri Bridge and took some photos.

We searched for also Puente de la Salve Bridge, since it can be seen in “The World Is Not Enough” movie. From the bridge you can have excellent view to the Guggenheim.

Puente de la Salve & Mika


photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

(Did you know: Returning to the museum you should go to the bridge Puente de la Salve, which crosses the river bringing a major flow of traffic into the city. Another shot of the futuristic museum was taken from here. Also here was the scene filmed in which 007 is carrying the silver suitcase stuffed with money.)

Outside of Guggenheim Museum, there is a spider called “Maman” (by: Louise Bourgeois, 1999). It is made of bronze, stainless steel and marble, it is huge: 8.95 x 9.8 x 11.6 m.

Later in that day we were very hungry, but we remembered that warm food is not served during 3.30 – 8.30 PM, only sandwiches and croissants are available. So we had to wait until evening, when we were able to have a proper dinner. That we had in Bar-Café La Orilla.

Wednesday 9th of November 2011

The hotel had two kind of breakfasts: An ordinary one, which was included in the room rate and the antioxidant breakfast for extra fee. We were pleased with the ordinary breakfast. After breakfast we went to the Funicular station nearby the hotel. The ride cost 0.90 euros; the funicular was not only a tourist attraction, but also a part of public transportation. The whole city and airport of Bilbao can be seen up there. Great view!

It was a really hot day, even in the evening the temperature was 21 ° C. We had lunch at pizza restaurant La Foca Nicanora. We had Milwaukee pizza for 2-3 persons (16.20 euros) and three little bottles of Pepsi. (á 2.10 euros).

Bilbao has built the first subway line in 1995, which will continue to expand in the future up to the Bilbao airport. Metro system has been praised , so we decided to go for a drive. Single tickets cost 1.45 euros / person, and we drove from Saint Mamés to Abandon station.

We went back to La Orilla, where we bought a coffee (á 1.80 euros) and ice creams. (á 5 euros) We have learned that if you ask a coffee, you get something between a cappuccino and latte, but the ” Cafe Americano ” is just a black coffee. Kafe hutsa nahi nuke? Mesedez! Later in the evening we walked to Alameda Mazarredo 17, there is a Michelin starred restaurant Zortziko where Pierce Brosnan had dinner in 1999, while filming his Bond movie in Bilbao.

(Did you know: Shooting in Bilbao took from 16 to 18 February 1999.)

Later we ended up once again to La Orilla where we both took Mixton Sandwiches (ham and cheese) for 7.50 euros / each, as well as soft drinks, á 2.80 euros.

Thursday 10th of November 2011

Breakfast, packing and check-out. We had not taken much advantage of the mini bar, which annoyed when we heard that it was included in the room rate. Taxi to the airport cost 21 euros + 2 euros toll . While checking-in, we heard that we were going to miss the connecting flight from Munich to Helsinki due to weather conditions. We got stand-by tickets, and waited for boarding at Bilbao airport’s Ganeko Cafeteria.

At some point we reached Munich, where we went to Lufthansa service center. It became clear that the Central European other flights were delayed too. We waited for six hours information about when we were able to use our stand-by tickets. We were resting on the lounge chairs and had something to eat at the cafeteria Adelholzener.

Finally we got the seats in Business Class and enjoyed the good food and red wine. Finally we landed at Helsinki airport and we found our luggage immediately. Taxi was reached after 00.30 AM.

Gero arte, Euskaldun + Euskal Herria!

Basque vocabulary (which was sent by Siru Laine)

Kaixo = Hi / hello
Egun on = Good morning
Euskara = Basque language
Barkatu = Sorry
Beltz = Red wine
Gabon = Good night
Kafe hutsa nahi nuke? Mesedez! = Can I have some coffee? Please!
Gero arte = See you / until then
Euskaldun = Basque (a person)
Euskal Herria = Basque Country


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