Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
2005.11.13 : Bilbao

"But who is it that lingers there on the strand in the half-light, by the darkening sea that seems to arch its back like a beast as the night fast advances from the fogged horizon?"
                 - John Banville, The Sea

Sometimes, riding the Piccadilly line to Heathrow for a flight to Spain, you will share space with a man with a lamp (and a laptop).         (hide)
Occasionally, in hotels overseas, foreign-language notices are amusing. (To wit: "Because there's plenty of molesting going on inside! Boo-yah!")         (hide)
Every once in a while, when meeting an, um, friend on the Continent for the weekend, said friend will be so exhausted and grimey from her travels that she will insist on spending part of the first evening luxuriating in the bath, thus making it best for you to go for a walk on your own, down the riverside, and check out the north part of town and especially the stellar bridges that line the river.         (hide)
There might be a nice one back behind you, by your hotel.         (hide)
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You might be drinking an Estrella Damm as you walk (remembering fine times in Barcelona with Skeet – soon to be Lord Skeet, as he has just engaged to be married, yay!).         (hide)
A bit further along, you might espy a much taller, majorer bridge – and happily realise there is a six-storey spiralling staircase (visible on right) that leads from the riverside to the top of said bridge.         (hide)
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And but then you might eat the stairs up the bridge all happily ahuffing, and arrive at the top to find this pretty much unbelievable and unforgettable view of . . . the whole point of the enterprise of coming here: the Guggenheim Bilbao.         (hide)
You'll certainly be amused to find before the Guggenheim, and behind the water, one of those monstrously massive metal spiders which hulked around the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern on your first visit to London, and which you recall are done by this like 92-year-old woman with this really massive workshop, and a team of helpers.         (hide)
Crossing to the other side of the bridge, you may look back to the old town, and your hotel. (You may at this point also begin to wonder how Jay MacInerney pulled off an entire novel, albeit a slight one (Bright Lights, Big City), all written in the second person; and how it's really kind of a silly conceit after awhile, and perhaps I should drop it and just go get a whole new idea.)         (hide)
Walking back to the hotel, I found Celina (the prenominate um-friend) was a whole new Celina. Bathed and perfumed and refreshed and dressed and ready to hit the town. We walked the opposite way up the north bank, toward the old town, passing this cool random civic sculpture.         (hide)
(This one.)         (hide)
In the old town – a lovely maze of, erm, Spanish architecture – Celina tag-teamed with the setting for some fine shutterbugging.         (hide)
Arches of stone. I like this shot, and the light.         (hide)
Told you she was good (and lovely, and fun, and a totally winning travel companion).         (hide)
An, um, church? [Being as this trip was six months ago, I'm afraid I've forgotten most of the details. (And I donated my Bilbao guide to the cause, so I can't reference it.)]         (hide)
(That's the cause – she was staying a bit longer than I was.)         (hide)
This is my second favourite shot from this series. (Just gotta love southern Europe.)         (hide)
Same square, with Miss Frizzy Head in it. ;^)         (hide)
This is, I don't know, midnight? Things hadn't really quite gotten going yet . . .         (hide)
We found a bar to hunker down for a bit, and suck a few down. It was wonderfully red.         (hide)
We manoeuvred for a table in the tiny upstairs. (Same size as the downstairs, granted.)         (hide)
Those ringlets! They just happen; they're natural! Can you believe it?! (Ringlets!)         (hide)
At the next bar, they ladled out great heaping piles of yummy tapas, along with the beer. In Spain, you really can eat like a king for the price of your beer.         (hide)
We walked back in the glowing Spanish night, happy, abuzz with anticipation of the morrow.         (hide)
Okay, there it is in daylight, from ground level. Let me say just a couple of things: First of all, the thing about the Guggenheim Bilbao is that, basically, it is the world's largest (and almost certainly best) walk-through sculpture – that happens also to house a stunning, world-class modern art collection.         (hide)
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And just when you think it can't get any cooler: CORROSIVE FOG FLOWS OUT OF VENTS AT RIVER LEVEL TO ENVELOP AND DESTROY INVADING ROWERS! Okay, well, it wasn't corrosive. As far as I know.         (hide)
You can't smile prettily all the time, can you – gets boring, innit? We walked a little past and across the next bridge over – you can see in the background again the bridge from which I shot those night shots the night before.         (hide)
Okay, let me also say this (just before we enter). As stunning and ground-breaking as the exterior of this building is – I swear to heck, the inside makes the outside look like five miles of bad road. Totally mind-altering. We spent the first 90 minutes just touring the building, not looking at any of the art. But, not only is photography not allowed, but like a 90-minute trawl on the web failed to turn up any decent stock photos of the inside. You'll just have to go yourself. (Which is the optimal result.)         (hide)
Not only is photography not allowed – but they make you seal your camera in a plastic bag. This is us coming out the front door (we'd gone in what is, I reckon, the back), after our first few hours. Happily, we'd realised that A) this place takes some serious time; and B) we could get wristbands to go in and out. Hence: siesta.         (hide)
That front.         (hide)
That front and that girl.         (hide)
Shooting the shooter.         (hide)
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Us.         (hide)
Out front, they have what is, let's face it, the world's largest Chia pet. (This floral fauna was part of a temporary display a few years ago – one which the residents of Bilbao so fell in love with that they clamoured, successfully, to keep it.)         (hide)
And but so we decided to wander into the more modern part of town (which has a proper name, but which I forget, along with most of the details, for above-referenced excuses), for a rest and a bit and a reflect on what we'd seen so far. However of course, the museum still dominates a lot of the major approaches in the north part of town.         (hide)
This looks an awful lot like a Gaudí building. I can't recall at all whether it was or not so let's just agree to call it rococo.         (hide)
I confess I'm still amused by this shooting-the-shooter business on multi-digicam trips. Actually, I was rather envious of Celina's: big crisp LCD, high resolution, compact ultra-slim profile – and pretty amazing image quality. (Also cool red brushed-steel case.)         (hide)
We found a lovely little comestibles/delectables shop, provisioned ourselves, then made for the centre of this fairly major plaza.         (hide)
Yum! big, proper Fuji apples.         (hide)
Then we walked a bit down one of the major-ish shopping/promenading streets, the name of which needless to say.         (hide)
Then back across another of the bridges – to the north side of the river, and back to our hotel for the siesta part of the siesta. (Pooch!)         (hide)
Riverfront.         (hide)
Back, in daylight, by that sculpture thing which we passed on our first night. (Oh, wait, that was last night – about 18 hours ago.)         (hide)
Okay, back in from yet another direction – the back entrance from the East. Spidey! It was also raining prettily now, which it had been threatening for much of the afternoon. I like this shot, come to notice it: looks like the spider will be attacking the museum.         (hide)
Okay, don't get me wrong, we're totally skipping another huge interstitial bit where Celina and I devour the galleries, still knocked out by the whole place at every turn. And but then after dark, we ducked out onto the portico (and un-bagged our cameras) to make note of the fact that: Just when you think this place can't get any cooler, HUGE JETS OF FIRE SHOOT OUT OF THE RESERVOIR BEFORE THE RIVER!!! They seem to be holding off Spidey. In any case: Damn.         (hide)
This is the roof of the back portico, above us.         (hide)
As there were spotlights shooting out of the ground, naturally we made use of them for photographic effect.         (hide)
Shooting back inside from the portico (sheepishly) provided the single opportunity to get the inside. It failed. But you do get a sliver of a four-story sloping arc of glass.         (hide)
MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!         (hide)
Great jets of fire!! Us!! Giant spiders!! How could any of this be wrong??!!         (hide)
This is my favourite shot of the trip: on the wet, moody, awed walk back to the foot of the big bridge . . .         (hide)
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Naturally, we found a late-night bar after – one with a mirrored ceiling . . .         (hide)

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about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
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