Today’s distance: 22.8 km
Total distance from San Sebastián: 81.7 km.
Elevation gain: 878 metres
Weather: Sunny; rain in late PM; warm
Climbing the hill from Zumaia under blue skies and long shadows in the morning was beautiful. We had walked about one kilometre when we realized we hadn’t started tracking our distance. That makes up for yesterday when I backtracked to retrieve our hiking poles at the albergue in Orio which I did count in the distance. Now we are even!
We wanted to walk a more strenuous but scenic coastal route way marked with red and white markers (7.6 km) between Elorriaga and Deba. We were discouraged from taking that route by a Spanish man that we met at the intersection. He seemed adamant that we follow the yellow arrows that led to the inland route. We wondered if there was a particular reason why we shouldn’t take the coastal route. An obstacle of some sort? Did he think we weren’t tough enough to handle the more strenuous route? We had no idea what he was trying to convey, so we ended up following the yellow arrows to the inland route.
As we came into Deba where both routes converge, there was a sign with photos showing what we had missed by not taking the coastal route. It would have taken almost five hours, not a significant difference from the inland route. We regret that we hadn’t simply ignored the Spanish man’s warnings!
In Deba we went to the Church of Santa Maria, a National Monument and one of the region’s most beautiful churches.
We considered staying in Deba rather than carrying on to Ermita del Calvario. Although we were tired and ready to call it a day, in the end we stuck to our original plan to go to Ermita del Calvario, another 4.9 km. It wasn’t far but the elevation gains/descents were significant and our average speed was slower than usual at about 17 minutes per kilometre.
The Camino del Norte is living up to its reputation of being a hard climb with all its ups and downs. Couldn’t the pilgrims have gone AROUND the mountains? It is nice having Dave to walk with now because we can complain to each other about how much hard work this is – harder than the Camino Frances. There are fewer places for stopping for coffee, a meal, or a night’s sleep. Less English is spoken on the Camino del Norte as well.
We ended up staying the night at Izarbide Aterpetxea in Ermita del Calvario which has 32 beds for 12 Euros each. This albergue is like a renovated cow barn. Oddly enough it wasn’t so bad! Honestly!
The men and women’s dorms and bathrooms were separate. There was a kitchen/lounge area with a wood burning fireplace at one end and multiple single beds to relax on. A pilgrim who was sleeping on the single bed nearest the fire was most annoyed that people were talking and disturbing his sleep in the late afternoon! Jean from Quebec said, “So what do you expect when you are sleeping in the kitchen?” Right.
At the communal meal we sat at a table for ten but only four of us spoke English and the other eight spoke French. We ordered breakfast as well since it would be a long stretch with no cafes to stop at the following day. Breakfast in a bag was presented to us at the end of our dinner.
Here is something really neat: “Scrubba!” An Australian man was washing all his clothes in a big dry bag. It was like his own little washing machine. Must look this up because it worked like a charm. The albergue had one of those spinner machines so that hand washed clothes can be spun so that they take much less time to dry on the line.
Tomorrow is going to be the most difficult day yet, so we are off to bed early with the sound of rain on the roof. It is a good thing we didn’t stay in Deba tonight because tomorrow’s hike would have been that much longer.