Only in English this time, I want to balance somehow the fact that the last two entries were written just in Spanish. I’ve been really busy lately with no time at all for translations, so I thought that I had to offer you -English readers- something special in return. If you are lucky enough to have some free days on Christmas or around New Year's Eve, here you have an idea to come to Spain and enjoy great photography and food:

First gastronomic stop: Casa Camara
I invite you to start this trip from San Sebastian, known as the city of the world with more Michelin Stars than any other… But let my avoid all those well-known and fancy restaurants and offer you some other great and less known spots. I have to start with Casa Camara, not only because its name works perfectly for this post or because of the amazing fish and seafood that you can have there; but also because it’s my grandma's family restaurant! It has been in the tiny beautiful village of San Juan (less than 15 minutes from San Sebastian) since 1884 and it’s known by locals as one of the best classic basque cuisine restaurants. I strongly recommend to go for lunch rather than for dinner and to reserve a table by the window. If you are lucky enough you would be able to see how one of those huge cargo ships gets into the super narrow entrance of the port. If any of you ends actually going there, tell one of the ladies running the place that Jon Uriarte recommended it to you, she would be one of my aunts, if not my grandma…

Casa Camara, 1928 Ricardo Martin

My Grandma is the girl standing at the back, 1928 Ricardo Martin

Indoors shot of the restaurant, 1928 Pascual Marin

Once your belly is full you is time to go see some good photos. Next stop is at Bilbao, just an hour and a half from San Sebastian by car or public transport.

First photo stop: Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao - New Topographics
Since the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum opened its doors, Bilbao has amazingly changed in many ways. Tourists now visit the city and walk along its ria where even some fish can be seen; no more that 20 years ago (I can remember it) that river used to stink because of the industrial waste that the factories of the area threw directly to its water every day.  That museum was built not only to show great contemporary art, but looking to develop a whole new infrastructure and to change the cities face and it's clear that it made it. But not many people knows, besides the locals, that there was already a great art museum at Bilbao more than one hundred years before Frank Gehry’s huge building, The Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao, a museum built with the only aim of showing great art. It’s there where the classical and landmark exhibition New Topographics is being showed until January 8th. I believe that I don’t have to explain how influential this exhibit was and is. Not happy with that, the same museum is holding another exhibit by painter Antonio Lopez, one of the greatest living Spanish painters no doubt.

Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao
Tract House, Westmister,  Colorado, Robert Adams

Second photo stop: Botin Foundation - Paul Graham
If you keep on going west from Bilbao, in a little more than one hour you will arrive to Santander, the capital of the region of Cantabria, a beautiful small city by sea at the Bay of Biscay. There I propose you to visit Botin Foundation, where a Paul Graham’s big exhibit is now on view. That exhibition “brings face to face two key moments in Graham’s artistic career, through the juxtaposition of two of his series: New Europe (1986-1992) and A Shimmer of Possibility (2004-2006). The first of these was the result of a tour through Europe; the second, through the United States” as it says at the press release. It sounds like a great opportunity to enjoy the work of one of the most prominent contemporary photographers of our time.

Second gastronomic stop: Fuente La Lloba
I’ve been in Asturias - the next region after Cantabria to the west - a few times, but I don’t know that region of the country as well as my good friend and photographer Iraida Lombardía, who was born and raised there. That’s why I asked her for a good place to eat in Asturias and this is what she answered “the restaurant is called Fuente La Lloba, you have to drive through a rocky mountain trail that can be scary for some, but the Japanese food that they cook there is absolutely worth it! Here you have a blog where they share some photos and here their contact info. I have to tell you that I’m afraid to recommend it, the place is very special and little known now, I hope it doesn’t get packed by tourists!!!”
The Fuente la Lloba restaurant's garden, Maria Diez

The view from the restaurant, María Diez

Third photo stop: Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea - Jeff Wall
“The Crooked Path examines the context that favoured the development of Jeff Wall’s oeuvre in a broad selection of works by the artist and others, aspires to offer a complete survey of the photographer’s aesthetic concerns. The exhibition explores the close links between Wall’s artistic process and its reflections and influences—pictorial, photographic, cinematographic, literary and documentary—that complemented his theoretical positions.” I think that this introduction to Jeff Wall’s exhibit at Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, in Santiago de Compostela, could be enough to attract photography lovers. I guess that if I add that artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Rodney Graham, Bruce Nauman, Luis Buñuel, Stanley Kubrick, Terrence Malick, François Truffaut, Diane Arbus, Eugène Atget, Bill Brandt, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Raoul Hausmann, Helen Levitt and many more are also included at the show, everybody would agree that this exhibition is unique opportunity to enjoy art.

Lucky students listening to Mr. Wall's explanations at the CGAC, EFE

Third and last gastronimic stop: Mesón do Pulpo
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of Galicia, the last region to the north west shore of Spain.  It’s cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James. Santiago is also known, as the rest of the cities and villages of Galicia, by the great food that they cook there. I ask my good gallego friend and photographer Fernando Durán to recommend me a place to eat there; he suggested me to go “Mesón do Pulpo”, that I would translate as “The Octopus Restaurant”. Octopus is the traditional gallego dish and that restaurant is known as the best one cooking Pulpo a la Feira on the city, it is a definitely a must and a great way to finish this journey.

Pulpo a la feira at Mesón do Pulpo

I hope that you enjoyed the trip, even if it has been just virtual. If you can’t come to visit us now, you could save this information for the future, good food and photography will always be waiting for you around here!

Happy 2012 to everyone!!!


-Google Maps directions stop by stop

-Casa Camara 
phone: 0034 943 523699
adress: Calle San Juan, 79, Pasai Donibane, Gipuzkoa

-Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao  
phone: 0034 94 4396060 
adress: Museo Plaza, 2 Bilbao, Bizkaia

-Fundación Botin  
phone: 0034 942 226072 
adress: Calle Pedrueca, 1, Santander, Cantabria

-Fuente la Lloba: 
phone: 0034 686 376805 
adress: AS-258 33534 Piloña, Asturias

-Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea 
phone: 0034 981 546619 
adress: Rúa Valle Inclán s/n 15704 Santiago de Compostela, Galicia

-El Mesón do Pulpo: 
phone: 0034 981 586416 
adress: Rua Vista Alegre, 57 15705 Santiago de Compostela, Galicia

5 comentarios:

  1. Hola:
    Soy Juan Valbuena... es el viaje perfecto que yo quería haber hecho el puente de diciembre...


  2. Gracias Juan! A mi también me gustaría poder hacerlo entero pero me voy a tener que conformar con ir al restaurante de mi abuela y a Bilbo a ver New Topographics, que en realidad ya está muy bien... Si es que tenemos tan buena comida y fotografía que no nos da ni tiempo para disfrutarla!

  3. Vaya vaya, Jon...
    Pues va a ser que tenemos más cosas en común de las que hablar que de libros en el Photobook de Barcelona: conocidos (no sólo de Barcelona), el Bellas Artes de Bilbo (en cualquier momento; es un buen museo para visitar), el Mesón do Pulpo...

    Casa Camara no la conozco pero ya me he quedado con la referencia...
    Gracias y Feliz 2012.

  4. Jon,

    me llamo Pablo, y aunque conocía tu trabajo por LM, no me había acercado a tu blog. Está de lujo. Te paso el mio que acabo de es de fotografía, pero bueno...un saludo muy cordial!

    Pablo C