Bridge of Death

| March 10, 2015

I have not yet written about Puente Colgante, also called Puente de Vizcaya, the Vizcaya Bridge. We crossed this structure near Bilbao in October of 2013. Why am I just writing about it now? Because I’m just getting over it.

When we were visiting my friend and hermana Ana, who lived with my family during my sophomore of high school, Ana thought it would be fun to take us to cross the Vizcaya Bridge. Designed by Basque architect Alberto de Palacio in the late 1800’s, the age of this bridge was not a selling point for me. Clearly Palacio wanted to cause mass death and destruction. According to UNESCO, this is “the first bridge in the world to carry people and traffic on a high suspended gondola and was used as a model for many similar bridges in Europe, Africa and the America only a few of which survive. With its innovative use of lightweight twisted steel cables, it is regarded as one of the outstanding architectural iron constructions of the Industrial Revolution.”

If “outstanding” = “death-defying” maybe.

I mentioned, quite clearly, that I did not like bridges to begin with, let alone bridges we were supposed to walk across, high in the air. Oh, pishposh, everyone laughed off my terror. Here is the process of crossing the Vizcaya Bridge:

First, we crossed the river on a ferry that was suspended over the river and being pulled by a cable SUSPENDED BY THE BRIDGE.

bilbao vizcaya bridge at night

“Kari, do I see a car on that ferry?”  YES.  THEY ARE PULLING CARS UNDER THE BRIDGE THAT I AM SUPPOSED TO WALK ACROSS.

Next, we rode an elevator up to the bridge. This elevator is inside the pillars holding up the bridge that is holding up the people-and-car-filled ferry.

“Kari, what were the floors of the bridge like?”  Well, I’ll tell you: the floor of this bridge was a bunch of wooden slats that 1) you could continually get the heel of your shoe stuck in; and 2) you could see through.

bilbao vizcaya bridge at night

You know what I love? A view of the river into which I am about to plummet.

I spent my time crossing the bridge in the center, pillar by pillar, stopping at each pillar for just a moment to catch my breath. To be clear, I hated every minute of this. I hated it more than the footbridge in Austria, because that wasn’t pulling a goddamned ferry underneath your feet.

bilbao vizcaya bridge at night

It is worth noting that when you’re not clenching your jaw and every muscle to cross this bridge, the Spanish Basque region is absolutely breathtaking.

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Category: Europe, Family Travel, In Germany A Broad blog, Shits & Giggles, Spain, Travel

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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