Deba – Markina – Xemein – Gernika-Lumo
Deba – Markina-Xemein – Guernika-Lumo
The Day didn’t start that early, but still we managed somehow to finish the breakfast before nine. It looked as we will finally adjust our starting hours to the quest that we want to do. A cup of coffee or two, bread and butter with the home-made marmalade in the nice Agroturismo Donibane marked the beginning of the day. The lady the owner was very polite and you just felt a lot of positive energy. The start was promising… like we were again in charge with all our strength to endure and keep up with our previous plan. To commit to the plan shouldn’t have been easy, still it is possible. So we headed toward the Deba via a descending road leaving the smiling owner of our overnight stay. It was muddy, wet and sleeper. Guess what?! Yes, the rain was here again. This little drops coming from gray sky became usual condition these days. It is the type of the rain when you can walk without umbrella, but it still rains… little drops of refreshment were even good at that time.
Deba is located at the mouth of the river of the same name. With some >5000 inhabitants it is rather small town with amazing landscape, rich heritage and exquisite gastronomy. Yes, it has beaches, one is called Santiago and the other is Lapari beach, above which are long Cardenas and Ablo Sorozabai promenades and a great number of viewpoints over the Cantabrian Sea. It is interesting that there is a part of the beach with delightful wetland where cormorants, herons and other mud-living bird species return every year. If they return, there must be a good reason for it. Why shouldn’t we return here then?
The beauty of this coastal town with its sandy and pebbles beaches was not that prominent due to this grayish weather. But even in a distance, even in the rain, the town was nice little seaside with stunning views. It was a pity that we didn’t have time to explore it, as it deserves. We did see the Parish Church of Santa Maria built-in 15th century, that was of course closed at that time, the square, the main train station and the river.
The parish church of Santa María is one of the most magnificent churches of Gipuzkoa. It is located in the centre of Deba town and is regarded as a national monument and a real masterpiece of the Basque Gothic. Its dimensions and rich decoration make it comparable to a cathedral. The church has two aisles and a nave of the same height, a polychrome portico of delicate work, a cloister ¿the most ancient one in the territory and several chapels attached to buttresses.
Unfortunately, that were the only few beauties that we had a chance to notice. Guess? We MUST come back 🙂
After crossing the bridge, we soon had to turn left and start to climb uphill. Although muddy, the climb was a kind of gentle, slowly going up to the height of 245 metres where the “Ermita de Calvario” is. The map showed that this part of the road will not be easy. But we had the adrenaline to finish it on time. We had almost 50K in front of us for this day and the first climb was from sea level to the height of 485 meters or more for Limite Provencial and then to go down to 94 metres in Markina-Xemen. Tough job?
With the barking sound of three big dogs that were very excited when we were passing their fence, we started to climb in a kind of forest. The rain made our path dirty and wet. I didn’t care much about my wet feet anymore. My choice was to wear sandals because even though they get wet quickly, they are also dry quickly. A spare pair of sneakers that I brought along didn’t have chance yet. I couldn’t imagine to walk in wet sneakers for such a long period – blisters would be inevitable. Therefore, they had to travel in my mochila.
The nature was amazing. We saw a great number of different animals. From donkeys to horses, dogs, birds, butterflies….the song of the birds was constantly around. Even the rain stopped at some point of time. The path was absolutely amazing. Orange breast and face of the great number of robins were so common in Spain. I even get an impression that robins are the most often encountered species here. Yes, I did try to catch them with my camera… but they are a bit too fast for my procedure of getting the camera and making in ready for the photo shooting session. Still I enjoyed this magnificent sound and happy flight of little creatures all around and tried over and over again to make a photo of them.
When I saw the Ermita del Calvario (Kalibaixoko Ermita). I thought for a moment that I will be lucky enough to get in. It looks really special, with a wonderful view on a Cantabrian sea, a broad terrace and a yard. It was built in 1689, and reconstructed in 1900 and 1940. I like this neoclassic style I looked through the windows to see inside…. ’cause this is the only way to see how it looks because it was – closed 😦 From the top and almost in the centre of the church I saw a flying ship and the bright interior. I wonder what this flying ship represents? Is it connected with their historical discoveries of faraway countries, or is it a kind of battle ship or fishing ship…. it will remain mystery to me…at least for now.
Soon after we started to climb uphill, again. In a few kilometres we passed by the Izarbidea Albergue, or Hostal. There was no need to stop… we were not ready for the break yet… 😉
As a little surprise, we saw in the next yard a group of small pigs. Ok. We already met a lot of horses, donkeys, dogs and cats… but this was the first encounter of pigs on this way. It looked like they also knew they are unique… so they came to greet us… probably for luck….
There is something in this Way, especially in this North Route. You are really left to the nature, to animals, to rain, to scenic views… you are with yourself, your thoughts, your memories, your wishes. At certain point of life I realize that I do not have time to lose. I realized that I do not want to wait for anything. I want to grasp every possibility and live to the fullest. I think that the greatest mistake that we make is that we think we have time…. and I am not sure if I would like to know how much do I have left? Maybe I would…. but then… I would probably run in the feeling of adrenaline when I would be approaching the end… This way, since we do not know, I am in this adrenaline state all the time. I will go wherever possible, do whatever I think it might be interesting, search and find happiness everywhere and don’t care about figurative problems. Only illness and death are problems in life, the rest of it are just obstacles that we encounter on the way of life. Be weird and wild… would be my best advice to me when I was a kid. Whenever I have to decide if I am going to do something or not, I imagine a little me of some ten years and ask her: “Would you like to that? Would you like to go there?” And if she answers “Yes” – we do it, we go there. Should I mention that she says “Yes” almost to everything? 😉
Wow… human….runner… it’s so rare here. Ok. I must be still on the planet of earth… 🙂
We entered the Basque Coast Geopark. They told this with LARRABEIXAK sign. It is a place with one of the best places of karst land formation. I hoped that I will see here some wild animals..or at least las vacas from the sign. Well, I know it is a geo-park, still, it looked like a kind of place where you can see wild animals too… Well, we didn’t see anything except three horses near one house. But, I will count them too 🙂 Everything counts, remember?
I must admit that I have a problem with the hills. I cannot be that fast that I want. Still, I can climb any hill with my own pace…I can reach even the highest mountains….. only to be with You…. a song just appeared in my head from nowhere… just as You did…..
After the tenth kilometer from our first step that we made this morning, we finally found a place to collect the stamp and make a short break. It was at Zelaieta Taberna opposite the church “Ermita de San Isidro” that has the shell on the wall. The timing was perfect for a fast coffee and something to eat. So we spent there around half an hour. At that time we saw several pilgrims passing by. They all waved with the smile. I guess we were all happy to be a part of this story.
After the stop, and not visiting another closed church, we started to climb again. The rain went somewhere else, so we had nice weather. From time to time, we even saw the sun. Road, earthy path, forest, the scenery was changing all the time. We passed through a village Arnoate. Unlike other paths here we met several groups. Most of them started to walk while we were at our stop. The thing is, we had light burden on our backs and they were the real backpackers. It would be strange if we were not a bit faster. And to be honest, they were really good. With these big bags they all managed to achieve respectable speed. Hmmmm. How?
When I come to foreign country I want to know their language too. I want to show how I like to know new cultures, new people, new customs, and for me learning at least basic words is a must. With Spanish, I have a long history in my life. As a born lover of Italian language I wanted to learn Italian in my high school. I was really disappointed when a majority of pupils voted for Spanish language. But I wanted Italian… Still, I had no choice and started to learn Spanish. The teacher that came show us all the beauty of Spanish language and culture. And, believe it or not, in just one semester of teaching she managed to teach us how to speak and understand each other without any problem. She, our Spanish teacher was amazing. At that time, my father told me that I don’t need Spanish in my life. ha ha ha… I guess he didn’t think I will go on this way…. where nobody speaks nothing but Spanish. Amazing…
Ann, on the other hand was pretty stubborn with her hello-es… She didn’t want to say Buen Camino, Ultreia….nor any other expression. She spoke in her own language. She got a lot of strange looks… strange in a meaning… they didn’t understand her…. untill once… she got the “good day” back in her own language. He he… I guess she didn’t expect this. Well, they were not from the same country as we, but they understood her “Hello”. She started to run. I couldn’t. I have my sandals… and I wanted to walk. It can be fast walk, but it still has to be walk….and there are so many creatures around me… Looking at her running in the distance I couldn’t stop and take a photo of a little guy that reminded me on myself at that moment. For me, this will be a part of my memories… my feelings… my way… cause I still haven’t found what I am looking for 😉
Despite several Pilgrims on the Way, we still had a feeling of tranquility of abandoned places. Animals were the only proof that someone probably must live here. Without them, I would think that I am in a kind of movie where the scene has been set, but the show hasn’t started yet. What would this show be about? Maybe this laughing horse tried to tell me? It would be nice if could understand them better….
On this part of the Way, we had a chance to read a number of maps and little instructions about geology, history and nature. I appreciate these efforts since this is the moment to share the knowledge. Now, at this spot I want to know that. Good job 🙂
We needed almost six hours to reach the 20th kilometer. That was the moment that I started to worry that we probably didn’t start early enough for this 50K journey. I was a bit worried that we will not have enough time to be there on time. What is time? The lady from the Pension where we booked the room for tonight told us that we have to come there before nine. She put a lot effort to explain what will happen if we come there in time when she is not in the hostal. I am not sure that I have remembered the instructions. I remembered only that she is there between 6 and 9 pm and I wanted to arrive there before nine. However, it seemed that we could arrive there even after that. Maybe Ann felt the same when she started to run, and disappeared far away ahead of me. I still didn’t run. I guess that this was the moment that she became nervous and stressed (as she pointed out later).
Markina-Xemein! We finally arrived. Strange name of the city. It seems that the current town is actually made by joining of two towns: Markina and Xemein that today has population around 5000 inhabitants. Why Markina? Because it is at the border of Biscay (Bizkaia), and it is next to the border with Gipuzkoa.
Coming from the Spanish word “marca” meaning “mark”, Markina-Xemein marks the location where the Gipuzkoanos (the people of Guipuzcoa province) often battled the Bizkainos (the people of Biscay province).
Markina-Xemein is located in the north east of Biscay, and it is next to the border with Gipuzkoa. Although the village centre is plain, it is surrounded by hills and mountains, most of them 400 to 700 metres high.Oiz, located to the southwest, is 1,026 metres high.
The main river is Artibai, which passes through Markina-Xemein from southwest to northeast. Near the village centre, it is joined by another river from the southeast, Urko.
During our short discovery walk through this town (villages) we sent its medieval spirit. The spirit. We saw facades of the church of El Carmen with the sculpture of the virgin and the coat of arms (Carmelite Order), the palaces Solartekua, Andonegi, Ansotegi, Antxia, the old Town Hall. There were also Patrokua palace, the church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion de Xemein,
What I found as the most unusual was the hexagonally shaped hermit’s chapel of San Miguel de Arretxinaga. In it, there is an altar formed by three big rocks. They are supposed to protect the image of the saint. At first, I was afraid to enter, so I just stood at the doorway astonished with the view. I didn’t expect this. The stones…. completely unexpected… the exhibition…. unbelievable surprise…
I didn’t find more information about this Church at that time, but it looked like there is a kind of exhibition in place. I felt for a moment as if I were on some other planet. The whole feeling was strange….. strange…. strange….strange….
The chapel of San Miguel de Arretxinaga was built-in the 18th century as the previous chapel was in ruins. It has a hexagonal floor plan and a six-sided pyramid roof. It is built in uncut stone.
The dome has six nerve blocks, joined in the centre with plant decoration. The chapel entrance is a simple jack arch with a small bell tower on top.
The three large rocks inside are the main attraction of the chapel. They support each other, creating a small chapel. At the centre stands the figure of Archangel Michael. The rocks are over 40 million years old. According to popular legend, young men who want to get married within a year must pass three times under the rocks.
Strange…. the sound of the music somehow made me go in. I saw a lot of faces staring at me as if they were waiting for me. First I was shocked, than amazed, than afraid. Afraid? But I am never afraid in my life. Whenever I see something new, unusual, different, challenging… I become a child and run into it. I would run in fire, I would jump the cliffs, I would fly…..
– Are you waiting for me? – he asked
I heard a deep pleasant voice behind my neck. The tone of the voice was so great that I hesitated to turn around. What if the voice is better than the appearance? What if I do not want to be disappointed. It is usually not important, but this time, I wanted that the voice and the appearance are a perfect match.
– Yes – I smiled and slowly turned back to see who is talking. Yet, I didn’t see anyone there.
– Actually, I made some hundred of kilometers just to meet you here in this dark place – I said laughing.
It was silence. I had a feeling for a moment that I am alone again with all those staring faces. Could this be some magical place? Was this voice in my head? I came here for an adventure, for new experience, for meeting people, for learning about the culture, nature, language, feelings, myself? One thing was certain, I was not waiting for someone. If this is so, where does this voice came from?
Strange – the same word appear again in my head. People are strange when you are a stranger….. I heard a known song… and went outside.
Ann must have been near. I looked around. It was hot, sunny, silent day. Again I had a feeling as if I am in a kind of stage set for the filming. Still, no-one was around and again I asked myself what kind of show is it. I walked along the dusty street. Still nobody, not even Ann. Hmmm, usually she is always around, or at least on a eye-sight distance. Still, not this time.
Strange… I went down the road, felt thirsty. Maybe I should try to find a shop and buy something to drink. A second later I saw a big supermarket and went in. At a moment I thought that I saw Ann in between the shelves… so I hurried… but I somehow couldn’t catch her. Is she still running, even in the shop? Approaching the supermarket I saw a bus station. I looked carefully to see if she was tempted? I didn’t see her there…
I took a bottle of Coca-Cola and went outside. I will find her, I hoped. What now? Where is my arrow? My shell? It is strange, I thought, that I cannot see any place where I can ask about her, about the way or about the stamp. Then I saw a Spanish Man coming down the road.
Excuse me – I said, but he didn’t react to my words. Excuse me – I repeated a bit louder… still he walked as if he cannot see me. Ok, finally I said – Desculpe – and he turned his face toward me with a smile.
Hmmm, so if I speak some other language than Spanish, I am invisible, but if I speak Spanish, all the doors opens at once.
¿Dónde puedo encontrar oficina de turismo? – I asked.
No hay oficina de turismo – he asnwered a bit confused. – pero usted puede obtener información en la biblioteca. Mira, está ahí al final de la calle – he raised his hand showing me the way.
So I went there. I entered the library. At first I didn’t notice anything but a huge amount of books. Oh, here I feel great. I love books. Then one lady came and started to speak in Spanish. I tried to speak in English, but she continued in Spanish. With a great effort she explained everything about the town, about the way. I understood almost everything.
¿tú debes ser Jolie? – I was surprised….
Ann dejó un mensaje para usted – I was surprised even more when she gave me a little note. I thanked her a lot for her kindness and went outside. On the note, Ann wrote that she couldn’t wait for me, because she wanted to run, so I can just follow the shell and the arrow and we will meet on the next stop. Nice. But, why this mystery? She could have just sent a message, couldn’t she? Strange…
What could I do? I continued without coffee. Who knows how late I am. And I wanted to be in Gernika-Lumo before nine. Puedo hacerlo! Puedo hacerlo!
I found the shell beside the Atxondo sports complex and started to following it. After crossing the little bridge over some kind of a little river, the yellow sign pointed out leaving the road and going to nature again, although not for long….. The weather was still sunny at that time. I hurried up, so it looked as if I am speed walking again. I can do at least that – I thought. No puedes correr en sandalias, o?
Oh, another small gothic church. It was the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Erdotza (Nuestra Señora de las Nieve). Few meters aside stood a little quadratic shrine of Santutxu. Saxtutxu – una ermita limosnera……. When you walk alone, you pay more attention to the signs. I could not allow myself to lose it now. After the bridge over another little river, I saw a sign that told me to turn to the left and cross the fence. Hmmm, I always feel as an intruder when I have to cross the fence. Still, there was a little instruction on this doors asking us to cerrar – close the fence behind us. Ok. I will cross the fence. Soon after that I arrived in another village – Iruzubieta….
Soon, I will approach Bolibar. I knew that I will have to pass by the Simon Bolivar Museum without entering. Well, this is what I miss on this kind of trip. You have to move on – if you want to be somewhere before dark. Maybe next time I should do the same Way with the bicycle. That would give me more time to see and visit what I want and need to make this Way more powerful. This time, I will enjoy in nature, the views, everything from the outside. I didn’t expect that all the churches will be closed. But, I have accepted this and tried to play the game of visual recognizing of the architecture and style from the outside. Will the entrance be on the east end? How does te sun enters the interior? Does the sun enhance interior illumination. East End and West Front…. Facades, are they byzantine, romanesque or gothic elements… they are also often very different and some have sculptures, marble or stone tracery. Windows? Are they in a specific shape? There are so many features that make even the smallest church as a perfect piece of art and history.
Then I started to climb again… ahhh. climbing… it’s hard again. I still didn’t see Ann. She must have been very fast. Out of some strange reason, my cell phone didn’t work. I wrote a message to her, but I didn’t see that it has been sent. It was some kind of stuck in a time. Strange.
I climbed and climbed and get lost in my minds. I didn’t go in the Monastery of Ziortza although I knew there was a pilgrim hostel, or it was supposed to be. I knew that there is a beautiful atrium inside, but I was in a hurry. So, I somehow started to feel sad again. I miss this possibilities of little stops and looking around. This looks like a kind of race, and not something where you experience the culture. Why is it so?
The rain started again. This time, it was a bit heavier rain. The one when you have to put the hood over your head if you don’t want to get wet. The hood is not the problem. The sound was. The rustling sound of the plastic on my head didn’t let me hear the nature. Still, it protected me well and it was a fair price to pay. I walked faster along the paved track full of dirt and mud, passed several empty looking villages until I cam to a little town Gerrikaitz, then Munitibar….. I didn’t stop. I was getting faster and faster. I must catch her – I talked to myself. Puedo hacerlo. I know we can do it.
Villages were coming one after another, the hermitage of San Pedro, the Montalban tower, road to Zarra and church Arratzu, then the forest in Urdaibai, bridge, Elexalde Arratzu. The rain stopped me for making pictures. I was afraid to make my camera wet. Well, considering this experience I will come back and maybe be even luckier with the weather. Photos in rain are a bit grayish and unattractive. The nature was amazing but it didn’t have a chance to shine now when it rains and when I have to go so fast that I cannot stop.
– Waiting for me? – the voice appeared from nowhere. OMG, now this is too strange. The rain and this muddy road that appeared in front of me became darker somehow. I knew it is late, but I also noticed that the day is somehow longer in this part of the world. It shouldn’t be that dark. Out of nowhere came a handsome man with the deepest blue eyes that I ever saw. I stared at him, I admit.
– Not a sunny day, still it’s nice here… don’t you think.
– yes, yes, I love Spain. I like this coast, the trees, roads, villages, this emptiness and yet vivid life all around. It is special. So, you a pilgrim too?
– well, let’s call it like this. In an hour of conversation we touched everything, the life, the death, the culture, the art, the travels, the languages. First we started with English, then continued in Spanish, a sentence in Italian, Portuguese and French, few words in some other languages… and ended in German. WOW, we were both surprised how easy this is. There is no was not to understand each other when we can speak in all of these languages. At some point of time he took my hand in his and said: I feel great now, what about you? I smiled and started to feel this strange nervousness in my body. No, I said to myself. I didn’t come here to find something like this. I’ve decided long ago that I will remain free. Still, with the starring look of this eyes and my hand in his, I felt as if I was caught like a like kitten that tried to escape. And this being caught became a wonderful feeling. They say… if it makes you happy, let it happen. If it feels good – let it happen. I didn’t think too much… I let it happen… I felt in love again without caring of how transient it might be when you meet someone on the road… Ok, a woman once told me that I will find my love on the road. No, this can’t be it.
I must admit that I do not remember the rest of the road to Gernika. It had a kind of heavenly beautiful path. The raindrops suddenly became sun, and the villages and towns heavenly gardens. I felt as if I was in a kind of a PC game, or a movie where everything is idyllic… let it happen…love cannot hurt. ….a song came to my mind… when he said that although Spanish, his name was Jim….. touch me baby…. can you feel that I am not afraid….
Gernika – Lumo.
Ann was standing in front of the bus station when I saw her.
Hey I finally found you – I was happy to see her. She was not looking happy. I felt a great amount of nervousness in her. Yet, I was full of love and happiness and turned around to find Jim with my eyes. I didn’t see him. I….. – I started to speak… and turned around again… still he has not been around. I met someone – I said finally to her.
She didn’t listen. Some kind of bitterness around. Why?
Ok, what is the problem? – I asked. Has something happened to you on the way?
No, nothing happened. I am just tired and nervous. I am stressed. This is too hard – we cannot do it.
At that moment we realized that maybe we will not be able to finish this route on time. We realized that we have to change something if we want to save something from this trip. Ok, I also missed this possibility to wander around and from the way. I missed several villages and churches…
I agree – we do not have time to explore around. We should recalculate our possibilities. I sent now a kind of bitterness and I do not like it. This is supposed to be fun. Grrrr
We should call the hotel and ask about late check in. – I said.
Why don’t you finally admit hat we can’t do it. You cannot do it!
Ha ha ha – I laughed.
Honey, I can walk for hours. I think that the problem now is only late check in, nothing else. I will call the hotel.
Finally, I gave up.
Hey girl, this was supposed to be fun, relax we are on holidays. Nothing went wrong, we are just a bit late. I think that this is not going to be such a problem. But I was not persuasive so I stopped talking.
I was still feeling strange… where did the Jim go? Did it happened at all? How did I finish this 10K so fast? The rain, the coming darkness, the special mood of the town and a place where we choose to stay this night mixed all up.
The chance to wash ourselves and all our clothes made Ann happier. I took everything and did the washing circle by myself. Walking around the town in a short running pants, hoodie and flip-flops I saw a sign on a bar that offers Sangria. A great glass of this sweet and strong drink erased all the potential negative thoughts. I didn’t care that we were late, I didn’t care if Jim was truth or reality. I didn’t care if have to modify our route to Santiago. I guess the Way is the Way, and even though you have to change it from the previous plans… it is still the way. I am going to walk every single day…. for at least 30K no matter what. Let’s make it easier for Ann, for me… for us. It can be hard, but it cannot have negative effect. We will make it easier…….
Akelarre is the Basque term meaning Witches’ Sabbath (the place where witches hold their meetings). Akerra means male goat in the Basque language. Witches’ sababaths were envisioned as presided over by a goat. (Source: wikipedia).
The word has been loaned to Castilian Spanish (which uses the spelling Aquelarre). It has been used in Castilian Spanish since the witch trials of the 17th century. The word is most famous as the title of the witchcraft painting by Goya in the Museo del Prado, which depicts witches in the company of a huge male goat.
Next stop Bilbao.
DAY 3 – San Sebastián-Donostia – Zarautz – Deba
Step after step we were getting closer to Deba. I was convinced that we can do it even if it rains, even if it’s late. Still Ann started to walk slower and slower… and out of strange reason wanted to ruin the walk with a bus connection to Deba. I know that it was late, but in a worst case scenario we would be in the room that we booked in Agroturismo around 9 pm. Since this is nowhere, we will have no possibilities to do anything. But she continued that she is tired and her legs hurt and that this is too much for us, that we are under stress.. that we must admit it.
Stress? Admit what? That I cannot walk? How is this possible?!? Hey, what are you talking about? I don’t understand…
I said that the only problem was that we started too late. It was noon when we left the town and we had around 40K in front of us. Faster? We can be faster only with running and this was not our plan. Running 40K everyday – well, this is not possible, but walking…… We are very good and it would be a pity to destroy the Camino with the bus. She got nervous and angry.. so I made my decision. I will come back and do it as planned. I will come back here, even if I have to do it by myself. More information, smaller bag, earlier start of the day – and that’ll do.
This time… let the Camino show us the way. What will be, will be. It is our first Camino and everything counts. Everything always counts. We’ll see what the road will show us and how we will feel at the end…. I have decided to adjust this trip to her. Paper can stand everything… so beside reality… I will add another note to this notes…. It cannot be detailed as I planned… so let’s make a good story out of it. We will finally reach the Santiago. The trip will still have wonderful moments and we will learn something.
We came to Zumaia. We didn’t even enjoy the city and its famous beaches. The weather was still great, so it really pity that we didn’t have time for it.
The town has two beaches (Itzurun and Santiago), which are of interest to geologists because they are situated among the longest set of continuous rock strata in the world. Known locally as the “flysch” they date from the mid-cretaceous period to the present, a time period of over 100 million years. The K-T boundary is present at the Itzurun beach, and fossils can be found, notably of ammonites. The strata stretches along a distance of about 8 km, between the towns/beaches of Deba and Getaria, with Zumaia lying in the middle. (source: Wikipedia)
Since we came late, we also didn’t have chance to visit the Museum of Art where a lot o masterpieces of El Greco, Rivera, Zurbarán and Goya. There is also a gothic church of San Pedro…. what to say… a great little city to explore.
I must come back, I must come back – a great thunder screamed in my head…. and I will one day for sure. I didn’t see the northern coast the way I wanted…..
We took a bus in Zumaia to a place called Laredo, a town in Cantabrian part of the Spain (somewhere in-between San Sebastian and Bilbao. Without exploring it, or even walking in it, we took a train to Deba.
When we finally arrived in Deba, I needed a break. I wanted to kill my sorrow of missing the cities and walk with at least a coffee and walk through the city and feel the spirit of the town. There were a lot of people on the streets as they had a fest or something..we found tourist office and ask for the address of our Agroturismo.
It is some 3K uphill.. said the lady Ann was shocked. I can’t. We can’t do thus now. Uphill, no, I am finished. I just want to go there.
Do you maybe want a tea or coffee, should we walk a bit here? The result was devastating. She was completely finished. Is this a crisis? Why don’t I feel any of this. I am in my cheap sandals with a short skirt… and strange-looking outfit. I felt if I can walk the whole night… looking at the sea. Is the sea my drug? My hidden supper-power?
I searched for the bus, but it was too late. Taxi? No taxi. Ann was getting angrier.. she ruined the fun. She is taking this too seriously, probably forgetting that we are on a holidays now. Ok. I gave up. I went into a grocery store and asked for help.
We paid 10 € for the taxi that drove us to Rosie and her lovely house. It turned out that the house is directly on the road – on OUR WAY… OMG… only 12K from the point where we decided to shorten the way. Well, considering that we were nowhere with nothing to do, nor to eat or drink – this was a pure waste of time and way. I felt that we made a mistake. I don’t know about Ann, but I was feeling sad at the moment. Crisis? Maybe….
Ok. Tomorrow is another day. One lost battle does not mean that the war is lost. If we continue according to the plan, I will think about these 12K as if it was the result of her crisis.
Good night. Next stop Gernika-Lumo 🙂
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…
DAY 01 – From Venice to Bilbao
Venice was just a stop this time. The town well worth visit had the fast flight to Bilbao for us, cca two hours. Maybe this is not the cheapest travel to Bilbao, but it is definitely the fastest. When you don’t have much time… you just have to cut some stops.
In the plain, I only wanted to sleep. Sleepless week before this trip didn’t left me in the best shape for this adventure, so I had to catch up. One little girl said that you can get energy by sleeping, so this was my plan. I came in the plain the last, but still I had to wait for my seat in a row. Finally, I came there. Seat near the window. Great! I like this one the best. I asked a handsome man to move so that I can sit, and he tried to stand up with although he had already fastened his sit belt. It was a bit funny, so I smiled. I sit and looked around. On the other side was a woman with two kids. I noticed something strange in her behaviour. She looked as a female animal that feel the threat in another female animal…. ha ha ha… animal instinct!. I didn’t even try to speak with the handsome guy beside me, I don’t know why did she acted like this. Funny. I though: “Don’t meddle in my affairs!” – “I just want to sleep here…. The next thing that I remember from this trip was a sound of gears during landing….
On the other hand, visiting Spain is always a good idea, isn’t it?
Source of the map image: travelrepublic.co.uk.
So, we started with Bilbao…….
Bilbao (/bɪlˈbaʊˌ –ˈbɑːoʊ/;Spanish: [bilˈβao]; Basque: Bilbo [bilβo]) is a city in northern Spain, the largest city in the province of Biscay and in the Basque Country as a whole. Bilbao is the tenth largest city in Spain, with a population of 345,141 as of 2015. The Bilbao metropolitan area has roughly 1 million inhabitants, making it one of the most populous metropolitan areas in northern Spain; with a population of 875,552 the comarca of Greater Bilbao is the fifth-largest urban area in Spain. Bilbao is also the main urban area in what is defined as the Greater Basque region. Source: wikipedia.
So we made a little walk… altogether some 20K… to warm up for upcoming walking route. We saw the Guggenheim Museum, a museum of modern and contemporary art, and his “little” puppy. The creation of the Frank Gehry: “a spectacular structure made of titanium, glass, and limestone“.
The puppy, flowered puppy – an interesting creation made by Jeff Koon, that was built for a kind of exhibition. However, people in the town liked this creature and bought it… so the flowered puppy is still here 🙂
In Puppy, Koons engages both past and present, employing sophisticated computer modeling while referencing the 18th-century formal garden. A behemoth West Highland terrier carpeted in bedding plants, Puppy combines the most saccharine of iconography—flowers and puppies—in a monument to the sentimental. Its size—seemingly out-of-control (it is both literally and figuratively still growing) but carefully constructed and tightly contained—can be read as an analogue of contemporary culture. Dignified and stalwart, this work fills us with awe, and even joy, while standing guard at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. In keeping with themes in his past work, Koons has, by combining elite references (topiary and dog breeding) with those of the masses (Chia Pets and Hallmark greeting cards), designed this public sculpture to relentlessly entice, to create optimism, and to instill, in his own words, “confidence and security. Source: guggenheim.org.
We came to the old town with beautiful houses and a special feeling of happiness. Ye, people really looked happy there. Or was I happy, so I only saw the happiness all around. We treated us with and ice-cream. Coffee taste of ice-cream and enjoy a music of some anonymous rock band. We gave peace of the ice-cream cone to sparrows and left when pigeons started to fight for the peaces of it….
Little cosy streets, art, summer, sun, smells of probably very interesting cousin that we didn’t try since the ice-cream killed our desire for food. Then we came to Cathedral. It is interesting that her name is Santiago Cathedral. Interesting because we are heading to Santiago de Compostela, and even before the start we have this name “Santiago” in front of us. And here is the explanation for the name “Santiago”:
The temple is consecrated in honor of the apostle Saint James the Great (Santiago in Spanish), by virtue of being a point of transit for the pilgrims that followed the Northern branch of the Way of Saint James.
Well, this is not only a kind of trail adventure or a training. This walking way is something more, somethin that we will hopefully discover in the days that will come.
It is late now. Blue is very tired of all this attractions. Bilbao Akelarre Hostel, the one that will provide a clean bad, shower, Desayuno – grosaria breakfast and unlimited amounts of tea and coffee was our choice for this short stay in Bilbao. After a short night, we’ll wake up early to catch the bus for the next town in this wonderful country of Spain.
Next stop: Irun.
It’s time to travel. A lot of plans, ideas, but so little time. Still I managed to escape from everyday routine and to do a lifetime adventure. I am not riding a bicycle, I am not runnig this time. This time we will only walk, walk for long, very long. Actually, we will try to make a certain crazyiness and do something in shorter period than usual. Who knows, maybe we will be lucky to manage the tiredness, to manage the potential pain. But, for sure we will do our best……
Relieved to be on the road again…free from duties and tasks… at least for a little while. Is it possible to walk 18 days in a row for some 50K? We’ll see. Somewhere on the North 🙂
Source of the Featured Image: freepik.com.
A passport is a travel document, usually issued by a country‘s government, that certifies the identity and nationality of its holder for the purpose of international travel. Standard passports may contain information such as the holder’s name, place and date of birth, photograph, signature, and other identifying information. Passports are moving towards including biometric information in a microchip embedded in the document, making them machine-readable and difficult to counterfeit.
Passport stamp to the east side
German Democratic Republic created the Berlin Wall on August 13 1961 to divide the entire city centre of Berlin. The walls were erected within a few days. They made it to prevent East Berliners and citizens of East Germany to go to the West Side. The wall was not enough to stop fleeing and dying of people at this “death strip”, so the ruling, Communist Party in East Germany created more border fortification to the wall.
There were nine possible crossing between East and West Berlin of which, the Checkpoint Charlie is in the Friedrichstrasse maybe the most known. It was restricted to Allied personnel and foreigners.
West Germans and other citizens had the opportunity to visit East Germany after applying for a visa. On the contrary, West Berliners couldn’t visit East Berlin or East Germany between August 26 1961 and December 17 1963, and afterwards only in certain occasions (like Christmas). East Berliners and East Germans could not travel to West Berlin or West Germany until the fall of the Wall. On certain occasions, some exceptions were made.
Fleeing over this wall was not easy. The inner sides of the wall were painted white, the wall was lit up brightly in the night, and at some areas, dogs were watching for fugitives. The armed border soldiers watched from the watchtowers placed some 250 meters apart and had the “order to shoot” at fugitives. This created a great number of victims of this “death strip”. It is estimated that some 139 people connected with the East German regime and more than 250 travellers and an unknown number of other victims died in the period from 1961 and 1989.
The downfall of East Germany in 1989 and the opening of the Wall on November 9th 1989 ended this horrible period in history. On October 3rd 1990, German reunification took place.
It is interesting how the perspective of something can change…
I arrived in Skopje with the airplane. I knew that I can go to the city with the taxi, but I prefer public transportation, whenever it’s possible. So, although I didn’t have time to thoroughly explore the city before my arrival, I checked if there is a public transportation to the city. And yes, it was possible with the bus. I even checked the price; it was 1ox less than with the black-white official taxi. Great 🙂
After arrival and getting my luggage, I run to find the bus, because I knew it leaves in a very short period after the arrival of the airplane. The bus was still there. I was happy. Do you go to the city with this bus? – I asked. The man smiled and replied: Yes, we were waiting for You. I knew he was making fun. I continued: How much does the ticket cost? – He said the price in Macedonian dinars and the Euros. I paid in Euros. It was a bit more than in their own money, so I guessed he “rounded up”. I didn’t mind. Let’s call it a tip for a driver.
When we came to the city, I asked for a way to my hotel. The driver first explained it to me, but he also offered a free ride to there. Interesting – I though. He is generous. Ok, it was on his way home (I heard his conversation on the phone), but he didn’t have to do it; he didn’t have to give me a ride to the hotel. Still, he did. He was generous.
When I was going back to the airport few days later, I prepared the correct amount of money, but I decided to give to the driver a bit more (some 50% more). When he came, I gave him the money. He started to count and when (probably) he came to the amount of the ticket he simply took all of it in his pocket. He didn’t say “thank you for the tip”. Interesting… I thought… But why? Even if he said that there is too much, I would say it is ok. Is it so hard to say thank you for the tip? Never mind. Let’s call it a tip for a driver.
So, he drove to the airport and I looked around. At one traffic light stop, he opened the window and handed several coins to the beggar man. Hmm, I smiled. Well, again. The man was on his way to the airport, but he didn’t have to give him the money. Still, he did. He was generous again.
I smiled again… well; I guess this is my “Thank You”. Helping others so unexpectedly with even a minimal amount of money is the real Thank you for the tip, isn’t it”?
Source of th photos from Skopje: My camera – my copyright 🙂
Massive is the best word to describe gigantic statues that you can find in a recently renovated main square in Skopje…
All of the gigantic monument construction in Skopje began in 2011, as part of a government project to rebuild landmarks lost in a large 1963 earthquake. Within 2 years, more than 20 new buildings and 40 statues had been constructed, including a 22-meter (72 feet) tall Alexander The Great in the middle of Macedonia Square. Oh sorry, it’s called “Warrior On A Horse” wink wink, so as not to completely piss off Greece, who among many things has a problem with Macedonia calling itself Macedonia. Source:web.