Week 3 – Guernica
Guernica is an interesting city. We visited the Assembly House with its ancient tree (and new replacement) and its beautiful stained glass ceiling. We gazed upon a wall mural of Picasso’s Guernica that was made to raise awareness to the fact that Franco had convinced his buddy Hitler to bomb Franco’s own city to prevent it from seceding from Spain.
From Guernica, we walked through forests and hills to make it to Lezama to wait in the baking sun for two of the 20 beds. First come first serve has highs and lows…the high was not walking another 10 kilometers into Bilboa, but the low was sitting in the sun in +30 C temps. We got a room, but then the fight for food was on. The little town didn’t open anything till 730 or 8 PM. Dinner in Spain can be tough. The next morning, we hiked on in mist and rain into Bilboa. Lots on interesting routes and people. We met on guy handing out pins to the people on the Camino. I appreciated his give small gifts to strangers. In Bilboa we walked the river-front and saw the famous museum from the outside. The thought of standing and slowly walking in the museum made us continue on to out hostel. From the hostel we stumbled back into town and found one of the few restaurants open on a Sunday evening –Doner Kabob.
From Bilboa, we walked passed the famous Vizcaya Bridge. The bridge is like a hanging tram that cars and people can ride from one side of a river to the other. Very strange. We stopped in Portugalete for the night and had a great time chatting with 2 Italians and 2 Bulgarians over dinner and wine.
An early morning departure from Portugalete was needed to make the 30 kilometers doable in time to get lunch before the restaurants closed and the heat got too bad. In Castro, we had the view of a church-castle thing, a cool bridge, and a jetty. Great view for which my description does not do justice. We jumped in the water on the beach side, watched kids jump off the bridge into a tiny lagoon and enjoyed a sunset on the jetty.
From Castro we headed to Laredo at around 20 miles of walking, the pain in my feet was bad. We stopped in a small town for lunch, but discovered that they weren’t serving that day. Cheese and bread at the only open grocery store became our feast. We also met a German shepherd that acted oddly towards me. He came up and rested his nose to my boot. When he lifted his mouth, a small pebble had been placed on top of my toe. He wanted to play fetch with the pebble! So cute!
2 mountains later, we crawled into Laredo. They had a renaissance festival in full swing, but we only wanted food. Burgers and beer were found in a US themed restaurant (so bizarre).
We woke the next morning with sore throats, we thought from the chain-smoking host, but later found out it was just a cold. We packed and hustled to catch the early boat across the harbor. Before you think we are cheating in our long walk, this is the route that the original pilgrims took. The old route used a small ferry; the new one uses a slightly larger ferry with a motor. After the ferry, we walked for a few hours and only got slightly lost once or twice. We made to our albergue in San Miguel De Meruelo and did our routine of showering and laundry. Over dinner, we met Leo from the Nederland. He quickly became a friend. His constant smile, ability to speak more languages than I can count, being 72, and being a freaky fast hiker made him super easy to get along with. He play translator between 2 French people (one spoke only French) and us who spoke English and broken Spanish. Good times!