Yvonne Klerks

WLCE Breda NHTV University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands) June, 7th- 8th.

Bilbao is a pleasant and ‘easy’ city in the North of Spain. The inner city has been transformed in a particularly nice area for people to spend their leisure time. The inner city is not too small and not too large, not too quiet and not too crowded, there are tourists but not too many which enables you to experience the authentic Spanish feeling, many things are within walking distance and in case you would like to explore areas a bit further away, (public) transport is available and easy accessible, for example to the coastal area or to Bilbao’s authentic industrial heritage. Wide pedestrian lanes make it really enjoyable to walk through the inner city and the numerous bars and restaurants give the inner city a lively and delightful atmosphere. Therefore to me Bilbao is a pleasant city, but also an ‘easy’ city: easy to get around by foot, easy to find outstanding gastronomy (the city counts lots of Michelin-starred restaurants and charming Basque eateries that perfectly showcase the region’s wonderful cuisine), easy to find top class leisure facilities of which the Guggenheim obviously is the most famous one, but the city offers many more excellent leisure facilities; for example the cultural building Azkuna Zentroa and the high class soccer stadium of Athletic Bilbao are also located in the city center.

Most striking to me is the outstanding gastronomy of the city (the event ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards’ was held in Bilbao in June 2018) and the liveliness in the city center after work in the afternoon: a lot of people are out on the streets for a drink and pintxos and the playgrounds are full with children. A peaceful and relaxing atmosphere at the end of a working day, which gives a holiday feeling. Especially the playgrounds are extremely pleasurable to me, because in the country where I am from, the Netherlands, you will not find children on a playground at 7 pm.

The World Leisure Organization is committed to the belief that well selected leisure experiences improve the quality of life for all, from early-age to later life. To me Bilbao is an inspiration for this commitment of the World Leisure Organization. Many others have been inspired in the past by the transformation of Bilbao, where the quality of life is admirable. Hopefully Bilbao will inspire many more in the future who seek to enhance the quality of life in their communities through leisure. Would it be a coincidence that the Scientific and Technical Secretariat of the World Leisure Organization is located in this calming leisure city?