There are probably very few places that still seem worthwhile at the 5AM arrival end of a 12-hour bus trip.
Bilbao is one.
While planning the trip, my primary reason for the stop was the Guggenheim, which did not disappoint.
The museum does not allow photos of the artwork, only of the interior of the building. But there was a fabulous exhibit on the work of Niki de Saint Phalle (whom I am ashamed ashamed ashamed I wasn't familiar with before, so I'm furiously making up for lost time), and...rules were broken.
Aside from the museum, the city itself captured me: its mix of old and new, the vibrant people, the design scene, and of course, the food! Pintxos everywhere, and so affordable. Usually €1 each along with a €1.50 glass of wine - makes for a delicious and affordable meal.
Another of many fantastic stops was the Alhóndiga Bilbao, redesigned in 2010 by Phillipe Starck, every column inside is different.
And of course, Bilbao was where I fell in love...with the Puppy.
Incredible city. I can't wait to go back.