Friday, 10 April 2015

On location: Bilbao in The World Is Not Enough

I was in north-east Spain over the Easter holiday. Having flown into Bilbao, I was able to spend a little time in the city before returning to the UK. Apart from exploring the many museums, parks, squares, streets, and cafés that Bilbao has to offer, naturally I was keen to see the locations used in The World Is Not Enough (1999). Given that the filming was based around the world-famous Guggenheim Museum, I didn't have too much difficulty finding them.


 

Bilbao appears in the pre-titles sequence. In the very first scene, Pierce Brosnan's James Bond crosses Iparraguirre, a street that leads to the Guggenheim. As we follow Bond into a building representing la Banque Suisse de l'Industrie, we catch a glimpse of the West Highland terrier, the enormous statue of a flower-covered dog that sits in front of the museum.
Me looking at the Guggenheim, Bilbao
The building used as the Swiss bank in fact stands opposite the museum on Alameda Mazarredo. Unfortunately during my visit, the building was obscured by scaffolding and hoarding advertising men's fragrance. There would be no recreating Bond's jump out of the window that day.
The building that doubled as TWINE's Swiss bank
After jumping out of the window, Bond makes his escape by heading north on Puente de la Salve, a bridge that takes one behind the Guggenheim and over the Ría de Bilbao. I walked a little way across the bridge, and then later drove over the bridge as I tried to negotiate my way out of the city and towards the airport.
Me on the Puente de la Salve, Bilbao
Alas there was no trace of Bond's visit, but the city did offer a postscript of sorts. Walking through the streets of the old city, I spotted a poster for 'Bond & Beyond', a concert celebrating the music of James Bond performed by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Bilbao. Now, if I could just manage to be in the city on 25th or 26th June...

For more information on James Bond's Bilbao, I recommend the 007 Travelers blog, and also On the Tracks of 007 by Martijn Mulder and Dirk Kloosterboer.

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