We woke and made our way to Irun via train by 11 AM. We tried to find someone/business/church that was open and would stamp our pilgrim’s passport to show we started in Irun, but after much walking and annoyance, we gave up and started walking. We decided to take the route over the mountain as it was shorter and supposedly prettier. We saw towers built in the early 1800’s for the Carlist War (e.g. Torre V de Jaizkibel) . The cool little towers were dotted along the trail and could be climbed or entered by those with tie and energy. We had neither. We made it to Pasai Donibane, but the albergue was full. We hiked on to the weird 10 Tribes Albergue it seemed much farther than the 5 kilometers that the guy at Pasai Donibane suggested. The hill was very steep and the way long. The albergue was close to full when we arrived around 6 PM. It was late to be arriving, so we were happy that they could put us in a tent for the night. Dinner and conversation went well until it started to rain around 9. The rain continued through the night as a rock concert and cannon blasts could be heard from San Sabastian’s celebration of a regatta that was going on the weekend. The rain lightened to a constant misting by morning, so we walked with our new friends Ted and Linda (Aussies). The rain let up as we made it to San Sabastian proper. We stopped in Orio for lunch and Laura discovered her least favorite salad, the “Esalada Rusa”. It is a Spanish salad made of potato salad topped with tuna and a hardboiled egg. I swapped my yummy looking seafood rice so we would both have something to eat. We kept on going until we reached Zarautz
We walked with Ted and Linda down an ancient Roman road. It took no effort to see the footsteps of man, beast, and carts that had been worn into the rock.
The following day we walked with Phil (Brit) and Mark (Netherlands) for a few hours. Mark stopped early due to injury and Phil stomped with us all the way to Debah. The coast was pretty and rugged. In Debah, Laura was tired and sore, so I grabbed the passports and went to the tourist office to try and get 2 beds for the night. We managed to get the last 2 at the municipal albergue; the guy behind me in line looked crestfallen to say the least. After checking in and realizing the time, we went to try and get lunch/dinner before things shutdown and barely got lunch. The waitress was su
per nice and took our order as the kitchen closed.
We had another long day (~30 kilometers of rough terrain and no facilities) on our trek from Debah to Markina. To add to the fun, it rained off and on all day. We tried to keep a good pace, coupled with an early start, we made it to Markina around 2 PM. We checked out the San Miguel de Arrechinaga Church. It is a medium sized open cathedral that houses 3 huge megaliths (big rocks) that form a shelter over an altar. It is a neat place, but it had no food, so on we went.
We did experience our first Camino miracle I Markina. The Pellegrino Menu. It is a 3 course meal and a full bottle of wine for two. We had it twice in one day and it was marvelous. Laura’s knee was bothering her and so we decided to make the next day shorter. We only went 5 kilometers to Bolíbar. Bolíbar is a super-cute old town. Lots of history and a museum and fountain dedicated to Simón Bolíbar. There we met a Senegalese man that carved wonderful shells (the symbol for the Camino de Santiago) and other works of art. He spoke French, so we just bought and gawked at his skills. From there we backtracked to the hostel where we would be reduced to eating ramen noodles out of a vending machine. It turns out has only one functional bar/restaurant and it doesn’t like outsiders…and by outsiders, I mean even Spanish outsiders. It was one of the reasons the Basque are called insular.
We got out of tow ASAP in the morning and met up with our friend Ted and Linda. We all walked some distance and chatted. We were reintroduced to Patrick and Dianne (Canada). All of us stayed in the same albergue. While those 4 went to Guernica to check out the museum and cultural center commemorating the Franco having his own people bombed, Laura, Jane (Irish doctor), and I went to a local bar to have a good IPA and wait for dinner.
On Friday the 13th AND a full moon, we got up and walked the 6 miles to Guernica. We walked across Roman bridges and by more ancient churches and black berry bushes. We checked into a weird Pension (hotel or boarding house, usually with common bathroom or other oddity). Guernica is a town steeped with Basque history. We relaxed and tried to prepare for the long hike (20+ kilometers) the next day.