Camino Days 2-7

We’ve been walking for a week now, and let me tell ya, my blisters have blisters. Despite the pain in my feet and weird haunting pains that show up through the rest of my body, the scenery is still pretty amazing and we have been lucky to have excellent weather.  Many people we pass on the way yell out “Buen Camino!” and have been extremely nice despite our sweaty condition and the rusty state of my Spanish.  Our routine has developed into waking up early to walk as much as possible before the heat of the day which really hits around noon. Though I recently discovered that the hottest it has been is only about 80 degrees – I have a tiny comfort zone from living in Seattle for so long!

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Early morning trek out of San Sebastian

The way is marked with signposts and yellow arrows. So far we have only gotten lost once (and that was due to bad directions in our guidebook!). There was also a small section outside of Deba where some hooligan painted over all the arrows outside of town, but we were still able to figure out the route thanks to an extra map from the Deba tourist office.

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When we see one of these we know we’re on the right track

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Happy Arrow

We are walking through Basque Country and most people speak both Basque and Spanish.  We get by with either what I remember from Spanish class, or with a lot of pantomiming.

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No idea what this says

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Looking down at Zarrauz. There is a big surfing community there along with some lucky golfers with beach access.

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Farm stand for pilgrims with cider, cream, and honey

Pilgrims walking to Santiago generally stay at albergues, which are cheap dorms, similar to a hostel but catered specifically for pilgrims.  A couple nights ago, the albergue we stayed at was in a monastery- we attended a service before dinner (Vespers in Spanish) and then had our meal on the patio of the monastery with the other pilgrims! This night we were a combo of pilgrims representing the U.S., Andorra, Hungary, Spain, and Italy!

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Community Dinner

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Early morning fog

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This car probably works better than the one sitting in our driveway, unfortunately.

We accidentally walked about a 34km day, thinking there was an albergue to stop at in the town before Bilbao (there wasn’t).  Bilbao is a fun city though, and after the long day of walking I took the next morning off to tour the Guggenheim (well worth it if you’re ever here for a visit!).

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Across the river from the Guggenheim in Bilbao

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Almost to Portugalete

It always feels like we have walked for ages but I was noticing at the tourist office in Gernika that the train time back to San Sebastian was about 15 minutes.  And to think it took us 3 days to walk it!

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Bridge and gondola to Portugalete. The gondola carries passengers and cars

Tonight we are in a pension in Portugalete (a suburb of Bilbao). We are headed back to the beach tomorrow after being inland for a couple of nights.

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The Camino de Santiago

I wanted to post a few photos of our first couple days of the Camino. It’s so beautiful here in Northern Spain. We are walking the Northern Route, which is different from the French Route (the one they walked in ‘The Way,’ and also the most common). There are fewer pilgrims on this route, but the views have been spectacular. The first day we walked from Irun to Pasaia which was about 18km (though we did take a wrong turn, so I’m pretty sure we walked further than that). We took it easy day 2, only walking about 6km to be able to spend the day at the beach in San Sebastian.  We finished day three with 30km. Tomorrow will be another short day ending in Deba – if we try to go longer than 18km to get to Deba there won’t be any places to stay until kilometer 48 which just won’t work for me:)

Side note: if you ever have a chance to take a month off work and do this, I highly recommend it.  You don’t have to quit your jobs like we did, you just need to ask for a sabbatical.  Once you get the plane trip here, it’s becomes less expensive- based on expenses so far (yes, we are keeping a beautiful excel google doc), we will probably average 60 Euros per day for the two of us.

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Here we go!

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Looking back over Irun.

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Lots of ocean and sky!

 

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Dinner in Pasea de San Juan

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A new friend!

 

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View of San Sebastian.

Acting casual by the beach!

Acting casual by the beach!

 

Czech Republic, In Photos

1. You must like beer. Beer is cheaper than water. You even bathe in beer here, while drinking beer, of course!

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2. Dave and Lucie are super cool. Everyone should congratulate them because they just got married in a 12 hour extreme eating/drinking/hockey event that will live forever in all of our memories. And our livers.

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3. Weddings in Czech Republic seriously last 12 hours. I wasn’t joking. We had a 2 hour break in the middle. Which of course we used to play mini golf.

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4. Everyone who attended this extreme destination extravaganza is awesome.

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5. Prague is a beautiful city.

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6. Plzen is a beautiful city.

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7. These guys.

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Cale and I are in Irun, Spain now and we start walking the Camino de Santiago tomorrow. If you don’t hear from us, it’s because Spain doesn’t believe in the internets.

No Biggie, We’re Just Staying in a Castle.

After our short stint in Dingle, we headed back via train through Dublin and down to Rosslaire Harbor, which is on the Southeastern Corner of the Country. We were headed to meet dear family friends, Terre and Ray, who picked us up after a long day of train travel.

Terre and Ray live in a castle.

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Cale in the courtyard

Well, I should say they live in what used to be the old stables surrounding this tower, built in 1440 by the Normans as a defense against the native Irish living in the area. The tower has been fixed up enough to be water tight and secure to tour, and the stables have since been converted to condos by a couple with a lot of vision, and I’d have to say a whole lot of gumption.

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Pre-refurbishment. The section covered in ivy is now a three story home.

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Condos (formerly stables/carriage houses)

Terre and Ray kindly hosted us and we got to hang out with them and Ray’s son, Jason.  We had a relaxing few days with them and also took a few walks to the ocean and into the small town nearby.

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View of the castle from the road

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At the nearby wind farm

 

Terre took us on a tour of the tower.  It has stairs looping around the perimeter with large open rooms in the middle.

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Stairs inside the tower

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Looking into the room on the main level

The rooms were once used as living spaces and storage and a few of the levels even had toilets which used to drop the waste straight outside (it was then used as fertilizer).  Nooks and crannies built to enhance the defense of the tower were tucked everywhere. There was a ‘murdering hole,’ a space right above the castle entrance where fighters would hide and stab attackers with spears and arrows as they tried to enter the tower.  There was also a machicolation which is a hole accessed at the roof that empties out right at the front where you could drop hot oil or stones on enemies attacking the towers.

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You shoot your arrows through these skinny little windows

In this tower there were also spaces where pigeons were kept in order to harvest the eggs.

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Looking up at the pigeon holes

We reached the roof which had amazing views of the property and the surrounding countryside and ocean.  The roof also held the fire tower (just like in Lord of the Rings) where you could message other nearby towers in case of emergency.

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Terre and Cale on the roof

 

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Juxtaposition of old and new, with the windmills in the background

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These stables aren’t refurbished yet…

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Looking down into Terre’s garden

Next stop: London!