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The CJ3B Page Visits Spain

Part 4: Bilbao


Roseanna, Amelia and I left Camprodon with an appointment to meet Valentín Dominguez Marcos back in Bilbao where the annual fiesta was getting underway. So we headed south to get out of the mountains, and took the freeway west (see the map.) On this day-long drive, often following the Ebro River again, we were in country that was more similar to our preconceptions of what Spain would be like: hot, dry and flat. We passed through Zaragoza, home of the VIASA/EBRO factory where Jeeps were built from the 1960s into the 1980's. Aparently some of the tooling for the CJ-3B is still kept there, but we didn't have time to explore that on this trip.

We had also heard about the south-to-north flatfender tour by the Club Jeep Willys Clasico de España which was taking place while we were in the country, but we had cell phone problems and never managed to find out exactly where they were. -- Derek Redmond

Classic Willys
From the look of this photo, courtesy of members of the Willys Club, they weren't always sure where they were either. Four men and a road map is always a recipe for confusion.

Club tour
This picture shows the five CJ-3Bs which were the core of the cross-country tour, joined occasionally by other members of the club along the way. I sure wish we could have caught up with this classic collection of high hoods.

Back at the surprisingly warm Atlantic Coast, we visited the beautiful old town of Hondarribia. Right on the French/Spanish border, it was reportedly founded in the year 622 and is a symbolic center of the Basque culture.

We camped beside the ocean, near the lighthouse (60K JPEG) on the point just west of town; best view of any campsite on the trip. See also the Basque flag (150K JPEG) flying over the breakwater.

Guggenheim Museum
We braved the freeway network into Bilbao (population one million) and found Valentín Marcos, who currently heads the Basque section of the Willys Club. Here Roseanna poses between Valentín and his lovely friend Dana in front of the famous titanium Guggenheim Museum.

Getxo beach
Valentín's EBRO Bravo was a great way to tour the city, and we got a lot of waves. Here we drive past the beach and hotel where we had spent our first couple of days in Spain, in the suburb of Getxo.

Topless on a warm afternoon in the old center of Bilbao near the Guggenheim. Valentín and Roseanna had seatbelts in the front, but Dana and I were holding on in the back, which was a little hairy on the freeway (100K JPEG).

The 10-day Fiestas de Bilbao was underway, with 100,000 people packing the downtown streets at night for the party and the fireworks display, so we had to park the Jeep and take the subway.

Puente Bizkaia
Another unique Bilbao landark is the Bizkaia Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Completed in 1893, it was the first of about 20 mechanical transporter bridges built around the world, of which about half survive today.

Valentín took the Jeep on the gondola of the puente colgante ("hanging bridge") which carries six cars across the Nervión River. See a taller view of the gondola hanging from the bridge (80K JPEG).

The nice dark red chosen by Valentín for the Jeep is not an original color, but his CJ-3B-E was originally a civilian model despite some military-style features such as lifting rings. See also the dashboard (120K JPEG).

After saying goodbye to Valentín and Dana, we thought we would spend our last few days on some of the Basque beaches, since the Atlantic water was so warm. We checked out the famous resort of Biarritz in France, but found it a bit crowded.

At Isla we found more room on the sand, and Amelia had lots of personal attention from the lifeguards (110K JPEG). We also saw the impressive deep-sea fishing fleet (140K JPEG) at Colindres.

After dark we visited the 16th century church of Saints Julian and Basilisa, and once again felt the presence of Old World history. When we left Isla in the morning, it was low tide (130K JPEG).

Not long after that, we were saying goodbye to Iñaki and Almudena one more time, leaving our Citroen at the airport, and flying home satisfied that we had packed as much geography, culture, fun and Jeeps as possible into our three week trip. I hope you've enjoyed seeing our photos.

Thanks to Valentín and Dana for their hospitality, and Javier Ezquibela for the Bizkaia bridge photo, under a Creative Commons license. -- Derek Redmond

Return to Part 1: Condado or Part 2: The Pyrenees or Part 3: Camprodon.

See the history of Jeeps in Spain on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 17 November 2008 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond