Planning a trip to Bilbao? We want to offer you a soundtrack for your trip. We have put together a playlist specially created for the Basque Country to give you a glimpse of the music they are listening to there. Local musicians only!
For more information on Bilbao and its beautiful region, we got in touch with Maren, a singer songwriter from Bilbao. We asked her a few questions about what she thinks of your upcoming destination and to find out if she had any recommendations for you.
Hi, Maren. First I’d like to thank you for accepting this interview and to congratulate you on the success of your first album, which has been out for more than a year now. How have the last few months been?
It has been a roller coaster really. Incredible things have happened and I’m really grateful. I am lucky enough to do what I love and finding that we are reaching out to more and more people is what really makes me happy.
Once the tour is over, are you planning to record a second album?
Yes and no, hahaha! It seems too soon. An album needs to rest. Unfortunately, we live in the era of immediacy, and nothing lasts long. I would like to think about a new album further down the road, and in the meantime carry on releasing songs that evolve in this period between one album and the next.
Apart from through your mother tongue, how do you think the city of Bilbao has inspired your music?
I think Bilbao has inspired me in many ways. Growing up near a city, big/small, ancient/modern, surrounded by nature… There are many aspects and I think that it’s inevitable that you will connect with it in one way or another.
And talking of Biscay, we would love to hear your recommendations for the area. We know you have done a lot of road trips in a van, for example. Which places nearby Bilbao are unmissable if you are renting a car or a van?
We are lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful places. I lived in the Urdaibai area for many years, which I think is the most beautiful area of Biscay. Laga beach, the Mundaka waves, Gaztelugatxe…
I love going in the van to see the sunset on Barrika beach, near Bilbao. In Kobetamendi, there is a camper van area and from there you can see the lights of Bilbao. We like to go there on New Year’s Eve with the van. We eat our grapes (a Spanish tradition) and watch the fireworks, haha.
Can you give us your top three restaurants and your top three bars in Bilbao and the surrounding area?
Talking of Urdaibai, I would recommend Portuondo which has a brewery and restaurant. The views are incredible. In Bilbao, I would recommend La Gavilla and La Viña del Ensanche to try the local cuisine, pintxos…
As for bars, the “Happy River” is really cool. Just opposite it, on the other side of the estuary, is the market, Mercado de la Ribera, where you can find various bars and a great variety of pintxos. I was suggesting before that you see the sunset in Barrika from your van. Another way to enjoy it is by going for a drink at the Golfo Norte.
What is your favourite local dish?
I can’t choose just one, haha! I love gildas (a pintxo made with pickles, anchovies, green olives and chilies), tuna with tomato, marmitako (a Basque fish stew)… Ah! When you visit Bilbao, don’t forget to try bollo de mantequilla (a bun cut in filled with buttercream).
As a musician and fine arts student, where would you go to hear a concert without knowing what is on? Which museums or galleries would you say are must-sees?
There is usually a lot on and there are very cool places like the Cotton Club or Kafe Antzoki. Bilbao has incredible museums like the Guggenheim which is a must-see. Walking along the banks of the estuary and strolling upon Frank Gehry’s building is amazing. Although it seems like the building will steal the show, Bilbao’s Fine Arts Museum has an incredible collection and is therefore regarded as one of the country’s top museums.
If we wanted to buy local design or artisan craftworks, what shops would you recommend we visit?
I would suggest you stroll around the shops and markets in the Zorrozaurre area on a Sunday morning. You will find really amazing things: vintage clothes and objects, artists’ and crafts stalls, restored furniture or even an exhibition, concert or performance. It is an area to get lost in and where you can find very original spaces.
Which district or park would you go for a walk in? Perhaps to see the sunset.
I think the best place to go for a walk at sunset would be near the estuary. If you have a car or van, I recommend going towards one of the beaches at the end of the day and watching the sunset.
If you could choose one of Volotea’s destinations to go on holiday tomorrow, which would it be and why?
Wow! I wouldn’t really know which to choose. I like so many places. I would love to go to Naples. I have never been to Italy and I am dying to visit it.