Weather: Mostly sunny and warm
Highlight: Taking two days off of the Camino 🙂
Some tender loving care was needed, both physically and mentally, after our hike from Ermita del Calvario to Markina-Xemein. So sorry to have unleashed all the negative emotions we felt in that stage!
The hospitalero in Zumaia warned us of it being the hardest stage of the Camino del Norte and he was right! No wonder he was amazed that people our age would be taking on such a challenge. He knew what we were in for.
My right foot is still sore and slightly swollen – something I first complained about two weeks ago on Day 8 (Monjardin to Sansol on the Camino Frances). It might be wise to get something to bind it at the farmacia before we start walking the Camino Primitivo on May 14th.
Dave and I took the bus from Markina-Xemein to Gernika (the best 3 Euros spent for two people) in lieu of a 25 km walk on a sore foot. In Gernika we even splurged on our first hotel room with private bath (Hotel Bolina) for 50 Euros – second treat of the day. We are beginning to feel rather spoiled now!
We love Gernika and its interesting but sad history. Here is what our Cicerone guidebook has to say about it:
“Gernika is known primarily because of two men: Franco and Picasso. As the Spanish Civil War languished in a bloody stalemate, Franco faced heavy pressure to produce results. He shifted focus to the Basque Country. Although Franco’s military was outdated, he had Hitler and Mussolini’s modern air forces available, carrying with them a brutal new kind of war.
On a market day in 1937, the German Condor Legion introduced saturation bombing. Pummelling the town with incendiary explosives before passing a second time to strafe the fleeing townspeople. The town was destroyed and thousands were killed.
Aghast, Picasso took up the brush and produced one of his most famous works, which shares the town’s name. Intended as a warning to the world of the destructive power of new technology and the savagery of the fascist militaries, its message went largely unheeded.”
From Gernika we took the bus to Bilbao – another well spent 5 Euros for the two of us. It took under an hour by bus, but would have been the longest walk ever for us: 35.5 km.
We are in an eight person dormitory at the Ganbara Hostel (18 Euros each) located in the heart of the old town. We never could have found this place without help from the local people, especially from a man, his wife, and mother-in-law who always seemed to be there to help whenever we took a wrong turn. (We must really stand out in the Sunday crowds!) Our accommodation is very good with cozy duvets so we don’t even have to take out our sleeping bags. Breakfast is included.
We arrived at the hostel at noon but couldn’t check in until 3 PM. We were able to store our backpacks here so that we could walk around for a few hours unencumbered.
Bilbao is a beautiul, walkable city and, even though we didn’t do a stage of the Camino today, we walked 15 km, mostly along the riverside and around the outside of the Guggenheim Museum.