Outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain – photo by author
Among many other hats, I wear that of a freelance writer and editor. One of my clients sends me 300-400 cruise Port Excursions a year to write/rewrite. You know, you’re taking a cruise and at each stop there are tours you can take. I’m hired to make the descriptions of those tours desirable – punch them up, so to speak – and make needed corrections. Here’s an example I just finished on a port I’d visited several times and knew intimately – Bilbao, Spain.
First – this is what they sent me:
Bilbao, the industrial and financial capital of the Basque Country, is situated between two ranges of hills and on both sides of the River Nervion. The iron ore mines near the city were discovered by the Romans, who paved the way for the numerous foundries later built on both banks of the river. Today, the city is undergoing a spectacular transformation: factories and port installations are being renovated into spectacular urban projects such as the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum.
On your exclusive shore event today enjoy a sampling of historic buildings and the opportunity to explore the city’s main attraction, the Guggenheim Museum on this half-day excursion of Bilbao which also includes a chance to discover the famous local gastronomy.
Depart the pier for the scenic drive through the outskirts of Bilbao and continue down the city’s main thoroughfare, the Gran Via, which reflects Bilbao’s 19th century mining and industrial prosperity.
Enjoy a guided visit around the outside of the hugely popular Guggenheim Museum which opened to international acclaim in October 1997. The building is the work of architect Frank O. Gehry and is an architectural masterpiece in its own right. Covered with a dazzling 30,000 sheets of titanium, this monumental masterpiece became Bilbao’s main attraction overnight. The great titanium, stone and glass sculpture houses nineteen galleries of modern and contemporary art collections supplemented by works from the Solomon R. Guggenheim. Museum of New York.
Following your outside explanation enter the museum to visit the exhibitions. The enormous atrium, more than 150 feet high, is connected to the nineteen galleries by a system of suspended metal walkways and glass elevators. After your guided tour, some free time is provided to explore the museum at your leisure.
Continue to Bilbao’s Old Quarter with its famous ‘Seven Streets’, interesting architecture and medieval heart. The heart of this industrial, port city is the Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are lined with Renaissance, Baroque and Modernist buildings. Here you can discover the Basque Country’s gastronomy. In the Seven Street’s area pause at one of the various Tapas Bars and sample some of the popular local specialities – the pintxos – like “finger food“, a type of “tapas”, served on a slice of bread, usually cold, which makes them much like canapés, and are known as the “miniature“ cuisine. Following your refreshments rejoin your coach for the return transfer to the ship.
Notes: Basque is not a “Country”, “today” is not 20 years ago, and Bilbao has no “Tapas Bars.” Plus, the repetitive writing had to be cleaned, converted to American spelling and reduced from 395 words to 300-350
This is what I returned:
Bilbao, once the industrial and financial capital of the Basque region of Spain, is now a culinary and cultural destination featuring the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum, arguably the most visited museum in the world. Bilbao is in a “bowl” on a bend of the River Nervion between two ranges of hills. With iron ore mines famous since Roman times, Bilbao grew into a ship-building capital and busy industrial port. Today, the port is moved downstream and the cleaned up river is a boating and recreational asset to the city.
Your (company name here) begins with a scenic drive through the outskirts of Bilbao upriver to the city’s main thoroughfare, the Gran Via, which reflects Bilbao’s 19th century mining and industrial prosperity.
Your first stop, the Guggenheim Museum, which opened to international acclaim in October 1997, begins with a tour of the magnificent exterior. Architect Frank O. Gehry created this architectural masterpiece of stone and glass covered with 30,000 dazzling sheets of undulating titanium. It is surrounded by fountains and reflecting pools dominated by Louise Bourgeois’ gigantic “Spider” sculpture guarding the beautiful Nervion riverside walk. Streetside, the massive topiary by Jeff Koons called “Puppy” patiently sits by the entrance.
Inside, the enormous atrium, more than 150 feet high, is connected to the nineteen galleries by a system of glass elevators and suspended metal walkways, one of which offers the best view of Richard Serra’s sculpture collection called “The Matter of Time” – massive steel ellipses housed in a room built for them. After your guided tour, some free time is provided to explore the museum at your leisure.
Your next stop is the Old Quarter, Bilbao’s medieval heart located further around the bend in the river. The pedestrian-only narrow streets are lined with Renaissance, Baroque and Modernist buildings. Here you’ll visit one of the many small bars for the Basque version of tapas called “pintxos” and a local beverage. Following your refreshments, you’ll rejoin your coach for the scenic return to your ship.
There – now you know what I do. What do you think? Which version do you like better? Which would make you buy the tour? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. It will help me with my work.