Day 10

I’ve slept a bit longer and only left around 8. Went to the beach to check whether I can see the sunrise but the weather was not kind. Rainy, grey morning, clouding the sun.

On the way I had some fig and walnut that made for a delicious second breakfast.

With only a short break in an open building under construction to take shelter from the rain I arrived quite early to the so expected Guemes albergue in just 4 hours. It was a nice short day with only 18k but my legs needed a break anyway.

The place was amazing. Lunch, dinner, breakfast provided, there’s library, fireplace and the whole place looks better than anything else. Lovely people welcoming as well. The only scary this is the 3 level beds but fortunately I got here first so I got a lower one.

This place is not only a pilgrim albergue. It also has other social and humanitarian projects and the legacy of a priest who travelled around the world with a rover to work and help people.

It’s also a meeting point along the Camino I believe as it is recommended in all guidebooks with no alternative close by so lots of people stop here and who met before but were going with slightly different speed see each other here. I’ve met with the Slovenian guy who I had dinner with on day 0, the French and Austrian people I travelled with until two days ago and also a lot more.

However I have to be honest, for what I expected – and maybe needed – from the Camino, it may have been a bit too busy for me.

Pictures from the Guemes albergue:

Day 9

The albergue got quite busy yesterday, all of 25 square meter of it. A few snorers as well of course so I decided to get some earplugs finally.

We left around 7.30 with the same team as yesterday. Planned to do a shortcut in the start to give ourselves time for some longer paths along the coast.

Even though the shortcut was roadside the morning mist in the valley created a nice atmosphere. And the plan was great: the longer, coastal parts were breathtaking.

Took a break around ten on a hill top. Could not resist the view 🙂

After a break in Laredo and crossing the bay with a little boat so Santona I left the others and went ahead. The route went by the beach of Berria and than had to climb a cliff to go to the next beach. From the top both beaches were in view makinb for a perfect place to rest a bit. When the group caught up I continued them on the last few kilometers to the hostel.

Didn’t go back to the beach, rather just finally cut my nails with the €1.20 scissors I’ve bought in Santona … it was a relief because of the boots.

Day 8

Early start at 7 left me with crossing a forest in the dark but also a beautiful sunrise over the coast.

In the morning I mostly walked with Andrew.

Arriving to Castro Urdiales I hit the pharmacy again for a knee support. I have to say it worked well. I left Castro around noon after some food shopping and kept the pace with others: Andrew, Sven and Jen only caught up with me when I took some rest. When we got to Islares – the village I was aiming for after passing Castro – I went on for Guriezo. The albergue is a bit run down but supposedly still better than the one in Islares.

Totalled this day at 28k in 8 and a half hours. It seems I can not stick to having a lighter day 🙂

Planning for the next two days was fun there are so many combinations to pick from …

Day 7

Decided to do the shorter way out from Bilbao on the right side of the river. I didn’t get too far though, after 15 minutes I’ve realised that I’m missing my ring. So with a quite bad mood I turned back and did everything to figure out when and where did it disappear: I’ve asked the receptionist to check the security cam to see whether I still had it at checkout, then since it looked as I didn’t, we went through the hostel. Checked the room, the kitchen the hall, the trash of the cleaning lady who just finished, and also the drain of the tap. Finally I tore apart my bag .. and found it in my sleeping bag. Lesson learned: check the bag first. Also I have to say I saw no hotel or hostel personnel more helpful than them.

So although I wanted an early start, I’ve left finally after 9. Went by the Guggenheim Museum and then along the river side. Well it was quite a sad, industrial and gray environment, especially after the beautiful coast and countryside of the previous days. At least it was flat and 6km less than the original.

Arrived at Portugalete at 13:00 after crossing the river in a quite fun cabin. I thought I say hi in the albergue if there’s anyone I know but it wasn’t even open. So after a quick lunch and chat with two German guys I continued to Pobena.

The way out from Bilbao was hot and boring but the way from Portugalete was worse. It went along a bicycle highway and although it had a bit greener environment it was boring and the sun was burning with nothing to give shade.

I got lost a bit before Pobena so I’ve added a bit to the milage but finally arrived. I was just contemplating whether to do one more bit, for 45 minutes but then the beach and the familiar faces appearing convinced me to stay. By 16:45 I settled in the albergue after 26k.

The weather was perfect and it wasn’t too late so I went to the beach.

I also finally wash a set of clothes but it didn’t dry until after dinner …

Day 6

After the breakfast I’ve left just a bit before 8. The weather forecast that I’ve checked the day before for Bilbao didn’t have any resemblance with the weather at the start: rain, damp air all morning.

Many places the ground was so muddy that I’ve stopped trying to get around it. There was just no way. Also all the concentration was needed to not to slip.

I’ve met with some dogs with their owner appearing muh later which made me a bit anxious. Especially the one that was at least a meter tall and started walking right at me as it saw me.

Anyway, the forest and the occasional view on the valleys were breathtaking.

I’ve teamed up with Sven at some point and arrived to Zamudia where we took a longer break as a quite steep up and down section followed. We left around 12.30 and took us good 1.5 hours to climb up the 300 meters. A nice way of Basque country to send off pilgrims to Bilbao.

Joined by Maria, the 3 of us arrived at 3pm to Bilbao finishing our 20k etap. However we kept wondering about, had a nice sangria on a sunny square, then went to the St James cathedral and the market and by the time I’ve decided where I’ll stay I’ve made almost 30k.

We’ve also went to Decathlon where I wanted to check shoes but apparently new ones hurt my feet the same way as the old …

At the hostel, after I’ve went to buy some food I saw the snoring Spanish guys to arrive. Boy, I was relieved to note that they are not in a room with me 🙂

Day 5

As promised we started with a breakfast although it was only at 7 – not that I wanted to start much earlier today – and quite modest in amount. But that apple marmalade was delicious.

I left the monastery around 7.45. The morning was a struggle my right knee did not appreciate the downhill that should have been an easy part.

We were warned about rain but the few times it became more than intense humidity caught me under roof or trees. I’ve put the cover on my bag but didn’t even use my raincoat.

The kilometers just didn’t want to pass ..

The ideal would be to go to Eskerika which is around 9k from Gerkina. That’s a total of 26k for today as well.

When I got to Gerkina a little bit after 1pm the first thing I did was to go to a pharmacy. I bought an inflammatory creme and two bandage for my ankles. I also popped into a shop to buy some food for lunch and later.

At 2:30 pm I moved on to try to reach the hostel in Eskerika.

In the afternoon I was not so lucky with the rain but still didn’t needed the raincoat. After the expected distance I was getting a bit worried since the next place is 10+k but by 5pm I’ve finally arrived.
There’s hot shower, wifi, and food. What else could I ask for?

Day 4

Couldn’t really sleep – or at least it felt like that – so I started the day early again.

The ascents were quite tough but probably because it was mostly dirt road the way down was surprisingly okay. By 12.30 I arrived to Metriku where I’ve met with the frenchs. We walked outside the city to have a picnic lunch. Then off to the monastery in Ziortza.

It was an extra 8k but very much worth it. We got there by 4.30. They gave us dinner and breakfast. Beautiful view and locally brewed beer. Which was interesting as one type didn’t have bubbles and tastes quite sweet.

Only bad point that the snoring guys are back 🙂 ear plugs would be nice I guess…

Oh and we passed 100k. Yay 🙂

Day 3

Yesterday I went to a tapas bar to get a boost and it was worth it 🙂

Started the day a bit later to have enough rest. Partly to keep tha pace and party because my rommates’ encouragement I planned to make my way to Markina which is around 36kms.

I’ve met with the french girl again and arrived in Deba a bit after 11. The beach looked really nice so I’ve spent almost 2 hours there to gather my strength. Around 1pm I went on. The sun was quite strong and the route continued qith some steep hikes. So when I reached the hostel in Izarbide – around 5k from Deba – I had to stop for a rest and some water.

What started as a quick pit stop turned into a stay. I didn’t want to start another 20k with no chance to stop earlier and questionable water refill opportunity.

So settled in and got surprised that although this place is kind of in the middle of nowhere this is the best looking so far.

I’ve joined a few people for a pizza for dinner. As it turned out there’s a strong German presence on the Camino now 🙂