Day 2 – Friday 10th July
A hot one!
Left San Sebastian after a broken night in the albergue. Found breakfast easily and were on the road by a little after 0900. Along the beach for a couple of hundred metres, then away from the coast and up (of course) and up and up. Steep, some rideable (all rideable, really, but I mean unrideable by the out-of-shape Morgans with their heavy loads. Bikers, on their superlight road bikes or, sometimes, on mountain bikes, grunted past us. A combination of pushing and pedaling got us into beautiful green countryside, some under grass and some treed. Up and up, in the heat (mid-thirties today, ten degrees warmer than yesterday – and ten warmer than tomorrow is forecast to be) we struggled slowly. The road narrowed from two way to the width of one and a half cars, which came along every few minutes. The views varied, depending on which side of the mountain we were, between the blue Atlantic to the north and green hills to the south. Certainly not remote (just a few kms from San Sebastian), dotted with occasional well-kept and expensive-looking houses, but clean and unspoilt.
At the top of the climb, around noon (after an unimpressive climb of about 350m and distance of about 12km) we coasted down a little to a nice picnic spot where we had a lunch of bread and cheese, and replenished our water bottles.
Distances are not precise today since I set the Garmin to auto-pause, i.e. to stop counting time when we took our frequent rests, but then it appears necessary to remember to press Start when progress resumed – I’ll have to check this out now we have Internet access.
Mainly downhill after lunch, down to and under the N1 (National highway 1), followed by what the pilgrim guide describes as a short climb. Maybe it was short, but not for us – the steepest section of road yet, by far.
We quit (very) early, at a beautifully situated albergue just above Orio. It’s small, dinner and breakfast are available (bed, dinner and brekky for 25E), it has wifi, views and a washing machine (this last item, strangely, more exciting for Bev than for me).
Dinner was delicious, accompanied by an endless flow of wine, in a beautiful location. A well-earned sleep tonight! Not much distance, though; we almost as quick as the hikers!
Next morning, down narrow cobbled streets into the town of Orio. I took a wrong turn. Bev didn’t. I waited but she didn’t show up so I retraced my path and was directed onto the correct route (the locals are, without exception, extremely helpful and considerate to us uninformed tourists) . Where, it appears, I took another wrong turning and headed out of town without sight of Bev. I parked up under the major highway pass, alongside a river, and waited. No sign. When I’d given her time to realise that something was amiss and turn on her phone, I called her and was directed to where she was waiting beside the bridge over the river. Thank goodness we got Spanish sim cards!
Across the bridge and confused again. A man out for his morning stroll directed us, a mixture of sign-language and incomprehensible Spanish, and we took the road he indicated. Then it seemed to run out so we turned around, backtracked some, and saw a yellow arrow to the right (it was on the left before we turned around) pointing to side road uphill. (At sea-level, there isn’t really anywhere else to go here but up.) Nothing too high, though it did require some hike-a-bike. Bev is managing more pedaling than I; once in bottom or second gear, a sustained climb is almost as quick and less energy consuming for me than continuing to ride. This way, I theorize, I am saving my cycling legs for later in the day.
Up through nice countryside to Asquizio, a little village with a nice church (San Martin de Asquizio) but it seems every village has one, and an old house with a helpful yellow arrow on it.
Spot the yellow arrow; that’s the way to go.
There was also a pelota court. Basque pelota is somewhat similar to squash but played without rackets on a one-sided court. (The game, known as jai alai, is played in some united states.)
The road narrowed to a track, up for a little while before dropping by eucalyptus growths back toward sea-level.
Back at sea-level it was a short haul into Zumaya where we stopped for a late but much-needed lunch. And three o’clock seemed hot and late to be setting out on the next leg with 24 km to the next accommodation so, when following the yellow arrows through town, up steep cobbled streets, a man said ‘Albergue?’ to us and pointed out an old convent just up the hill on the right. What a great place; we decided immediately that if they had room, we would stay. They had and we did. We have a room with two beds (a nice change from cheek-by-jowl dormitories where my snoring prowess never lets me completely relax). All the nuns left the Convento de San Jose about ten years ago. Wonderful wooden floors and a friendly, helpful hostess.
A water fountain just below the convent.
The cathedral towers above the city which is a pleasant seaside tourist destination.
Not expecting an answer in the affirmative, I was very pleasantly surprised when the hostess told us we could stay a second night so we decided on a rest day. I went back to bed around 8:00 am and slept through until 1:00 pm so I may have needed some recuperation time. Then we celebrated with a delicious goat’s cheese salad.
Well, I had intended to do more blogging this evening but the wifi is incredibly slow (not in Xumaya, we’re past there now although the date for this entry indicates the second day we had in Xumaya – almost a week ago now). After waiting half-an-hour to load ten images for this post, and then another half-an-hour for them to load back down to my browser, I think it’s time to call it a day. See you later!