Thursday, May 19, 2016

El Camino Del Norte in Basque Country: Bilbao to the end of Basque Country

We slept in at our cosy Pension and woke up to a very rainy day.

So happy we weren't sleeping outside in our tent!
Every time we've ordered orange juice in Basque Country, it's been freshly squeezed in front of our eyes... So delicious! Heading off on our long hike through the city to get back into the countryside.

The alternate route along the river started off with gorgeous scenery of Bilbao and the city including another angle of the Guggenheim Museum.

Then we spent hours and hours going past old industrial areas that looked abandoned, past naval dockyards and other industries until we got to Getxo and suddenly everything became pretty again. 

The big feature here is the crazy amazing suspension bridge that crossed the River Cadagua and we crossed it via a suspended commuter carriage to the picturesque town of Portugalete on the other side where we stopped off for a satisfying lunch at a quaint bar with wi-fi (wee-fee).

El Camino from Portulagete to the beach at La Arena  was like a speedway as it was along a paved bicycle and pedestrian path that extended for 10km/6 miles. 

Once we arrived there in spite of the cold and windy weather there were a handful of surfers enjoying the evening waves. 

One of our immediate motivations was to 
get a stamp in our Credential (Camino passport) and so we decided to try the hotel near the beach to see if they had a stamp. Once we entered the bar area, we felt like we had arrived in a mini Hawaii. 

Photos of Waikiki and Duke Kahanamoku adorned the walls, along with an ukulele on the wall and all kinds of Hawaiian decor. The owners were super friendly, especially when they found out we were from Hawaii. We wished them aloha after a refreshing drink and set of to get more miles done.

About 1.1 km away was Pobena and when we arrived there we met two girls from Alaska and Norway who told us that the Albergue was full, so we kept walking. The trail became a sea cliff hugging walkway to the next village of Kobaron, the last village in Basque Country. 

Soon we were in Onton in the neighboring Province of Cantabria and had still not come across any suitable campsites or other accommodation. In the next village of Baltezana we passed by a bar were we saw three guys hanging about outside. Upon asking them where the next Albergue or hotel was they told us it was miles away and it was already 9:00pm at night. Thanking them, we continued on out of the village and up a steep road outside of town. After a little while a young man in a car drove up from the village and pulled up next to us. We couldn't understand what he was saying but he was trying to offer us a ride somewhere. We declined politely and he turned around and went back to the village. It was obvious that he had driven that way specifically for us and he was either one of two things: a Good Samaritan trying to help out as he new we would be walking in the dark for hours or he was sent by the guys at the bar for an unknown reason, as we had not noticed him at all while we were walking in the village. Fear and adrenaline kicked in and we hiked as fast as we could continuing up the hill. All we wanted was a safe place to camp and be off the road. Soon a logging road appeared off to the side and we followed that awhile to the forest line where a suitable campground manifested itself. What a relief! After setting up camp we camouflaged the area a bit with twigs and leaves and settled down for the night after a dinner of snack bars. It had taken us 6 days to walk the length of Basque Country.

Welcome to Cantabria!

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