DAY 2 – Bilbao to Irun & Irun to San Sebastian
Luis Mariano (1914-1970) was the first man that we saw in Irun. Sitting in his chair, looking more as a movie director than a popular tenor of Spanish Basque origin. He was born in Irun, in the place of the start of our El Camino Santiago del Norte. So we started the walk with “Besame mucho” song.
We came to Irun from Bilbao with an ALSA bus. The tickets were purchased the day before in Bilbao (cca 8 euro), so our only activity this morning was to come to the bus station at 7:30. Situated in a lovely hostel near the bridge, we needed only 30 minutes to the bus stop. The plan was to use this hour and a half of the bus ride to Irun for sleeping. I tried to recharge my batteries as much as I could.
Source of the image: caminodesantiago.consumer.es.
Finally, we arrived. It was not clear on the beginning where our Start actually was, but we manage to find the Tourist Office that gave us the first stamp in our Passport. I was happy that I bought them earlier, directly from Santiago de Compostela; since it looked like that they don’t have such documents to sell. After this first stamp, we started to calculate the kilometres. Still, it is a Pilgrimage journey, so we also wanted a stamp from the Church. The Church of St Mary of the Reeds (Santa Maria del Juncal) was closed, but we found an office behind that was open. The polite man put the stamps in our Pilgrimage passport, and now we felt ready for the adventure.
Tourist office in Irun: http://www.irun.org/turismo/oficina_turismo.asp?id_idioma=3
In a border town Irun – a town that lies on the foundation of the ancient Oiasso is one of the biggest towns in Gipuzokia. It is situated on a border between Spain and France across the Bidasoia River from Hendaye. It has around 61.608 inhabitants and features a special fest at the end of the June (we missed it since it is on 30th June) about the Peninsular War – called Alarde de San Marcial. (Source: Wikipedia)
Very soon, we met Marina, an older lady with a big bag (like ours). She was very fast for us, so after a short walk we realized that we have our pace and that we will meet each other again. Very soon, the road started to climb. It was hot, very hot, and our rucksack were getting heavier. Stunning views from above somehow diminished the hard effort that we made to climb that high. Actually, we started a bit late that day, at 10:15. The plan was wake up early and starts to walk. Well, for the first day, we thought that we can be a bit gentle to ourselves and do only some 30K or something. What we didn’t check was the climbing ascent and we didn’t think about the problem of carrying the heavy bags so far. Our walk was getting slower and slower and we had to make several stops. Loop?
Now looking back, it is not clear how we made it. The first day we made 42K with the heavy load. After the first climb on the mountain behind the Irun, we saw the border with France and the beautiful Hendaye beach, the place where I stopped last year and kind of new that I will continue one day. I didn’t imagine that it will be that soon.
We continued climbing upt to the Sntuario de Guadalupe, to Fuente (268 mt), then we went a bit down to Paso canadiense. This was like a present for us… going down for a change. But very soon we had another climbing of almoust 100 mt.
Finally, the route startied to go down to Pasai Donibane. Hmmm, Donibane – will be mentioned again in this story. Pasai Donibane turned out to be an interesting little village near the sea. When we came there… we were completely exhausted. The temperature was 100 degrees Celsius (it looked like that 😉 and we were “dead” of exhaustion. Thirsty, dreaming about the swimming part of this route… I realized that I first need to stop somewhere in the shade and drink somethin. We walked through this sleepy village and everything was closed. Yes, we noticed those machines where you can buy food and drink, but I wanted a souvenir too. So we walked… until we lost the yellow arrow. Well, we went too far…
One Spanish man on the bicycle noticed our confusion that we had. It is a special kind of being lost when you loose the Pilgrim shell sign or the arrow. Like in a trail race when you realize after several kilometers that you stop watching the signs and just went in a wrong direction… that will create an ultra version of selected race.
Ok, it was clear that we are Pilgrims, with the heavy load on our backs and exhausted look, there was no doubt. He told us that we have to go back and travel across the canal with a little green boat. He also put a lot of efforts to explain that I do not carry my back in the right way. He pulled several things in my rucksack explaining in the good spanish that I couldn’t understand at all. In a second I was immobilized. I could not bread, I walked as a tin-solder. If by any case heavy wind came, or someone even touch me, I would fell down without possibility to rise up again… like some bug that falls on their back and then struggle to turn.
In such a condition, I decided to buy some drinks at the machine. I would pay a fortune for a can of Coca-Cola. MIRACLE!!! It happened. Something went wrong and I got three cans for the price of one. Well, I did pay for one but how was I able to leave the other cans? It was like in a movie, like in a commercial when cans just start falling out of a machine. I took them all and we went back to a little square in the village where a stage was set in a shade. Somehow I climbed those several stairs and sit on the floor. The moment of taking down my ruksack was also a gift from heaven.
We probably looked strange there where people come at the afternoon with their kids to have fun and swimm in the sea. We just sit there on the floor of the stage in the shade, astonished with the effort that we had to made to be there. A rest can do a miracle, and it did it that afternoon on a stage of this little Spanish village. Special moment that will always be in my mind as a special memory. Keeper 🙂
In a less than a 10 minutes with a price of only 70 cents, we were on the other side of the Canal. Nice ride 🙂 We came to Pasai San Pedro. We walked along the road heading to the coast, following the friendly Pilgrim signs. It was nice to read known words on the wall of one house, especially when those words were so positive.
At the end of the canal we came in front of the million of steps that lead to the heaven, I guess…. We climbed, and climbed and climbed. How? Mistery. After this million of steps I thought that I might stay there forever. Yes „un espectacular mirador sobra la playa“ was amazing, but my exhaustion reached the red limit. How did I manage to climb these steps with 10 kg bag (or more) on my back and a temperature of almost 40 degree will really remain to be the mystery.
After we reached the cca 200 mt height of the mountain Ulia, the way was gentle. We were going down and down back to the sea level again. However, we were slow and heavy, and dirty of the thousand rounds of sweeting. We were like robots… just arrive, just walk…. at the end will be the beach – these were the only thoughts on my mind.
Thousands things came onto my mind…. Like… well, if I wanted to lose some weight, I didn’t have to put that heavy bag on my back and climb that high at the warmest time of the day. It is much easier to just starve for few days and do nothing. If you starve and lay in a bed, you are also loosing calories. Eventually you will also lose weight doing nothing. Why did I do it? I only have 1-2 kg extra (at least I think so), one good race could have clear that faster and easier.
Still, I was on a Camino. And I already felt that there IS something special about it. I wondered, how will I feel after hundreds of kilomeeters in my legs?!? I probably had to come to conclusion that we often bring heavy load on our backs. In my Pilgrimage bag I had nothing. At least I thought that there is nothing that I find unimportant for this walk. Yet, the bag was too heavy and I started to think what I can discard to walk easier, to walk without the burden?! I concluded that actually I could have come here with a significantly smaller bag… and it would be ok, as well. The same is in life. We carry that burden, but if we decide to discard this „important“things we realize that the life is much easier. We have to walk, we have to live and it is easier if your step is lighter and you have a smile on your face. Isn’t it?
WOW. Another „espectacular mirador sobra la playa“, but this time it was over San Sebastian. A beautiful coastal town that I planned to visit long time ago.
It was time to go down and the road came directly near the sea. Beach, hot weather, exhaustion, I had to go for a swim. Even the heavy rucksack, the late time of the day and a fact that we do not know where we will stay that night didn’t stop me. I had to convince my friend about this wonderful idea, and a moment later we were going with our enormous backpacks toward the sea. We took a place very near the sea, and I guess we looked funny among those people who come to the beach with a bathing suit, towel and a mobile phone. I didn’t care. The blue didn’t care either. The sea was amazing, the feel of the sand on my tired legs was precious, and yes, this short period on the beach recharged me very fast. Now, I was only tired, but not exhausted and this was a success.
We booked a room in a strange hotel situated in a Center of the town, so we had to run from the beach (with our heavy backpacks jumping on our backs – how did we do it?!?) to San Martin Street. Why, because we should have arrived there before 20:30. We made it. A one-star hotel had everything that we need. A bed, a bathroom, the power and it even had a balcony.
We didn’t need much more. A drink before sleep and a fresh salad were enough. Still, I took additional iced Coffee in MacDonald’s and I enjoyed every moment of tiredness and happiness that we are in San Sebastian. Even though I realized that I will not have enough time to explore this interesting city, just being there and knowing that I will come back here again…. was enough.
We had to make some changes. Carrying those bags was not such a good idea. We decided to use some luggage-travel service to do this job for us. The price was rather high, 10 EUR per one stage, but it was the only way for us to continue at that moment. Le petit bag was our saver at that time. All our things easily filled only one bag. Happily, because our additional costs will be cut in two. Namely for 38 stages the cost of such luxury will be – cca 380 EUR and if splitted in two, a price of 190 EUR seemed more acceptable. Later we discovered that it could have been cheeper. Well, some things you have to learn by doing, don’t you?
Next stop: DEBA…