Camino del Norte 5 – incompletionist

Guernica to Bilbao, with a cheat on the way, was 24km of actual walking.

Each evening we check what we’ll be doing tomorrow – where the track goes, where we are staying, where to eat, and so on. Last night we realised we’d made a mistake. The hotel we’d booked to break the walk between Guernica and Bilbao not only had some pretty bad reviews, but it was a 30-minute walk through an industrial estate to get any food. So we did some very quick and stressful work and changed our plans.

The walk out of Guernica was hilly and muddy. The mud never seemed to stop – and I know if you’re a regular reader you’re probably bored of mud complaints so as I walked I composed a little poem:

Mud slurping hungrily
at your sole, at your soul.
Slipping, skidding. Squelching.
It’s time to let go:
It’s not you, it’s me,
I need to be free.

The walk into Bilbao is notorious amongst walkers for involving many tarred roads. But as we emerged from 10km of hilly mud, the tarred roads were, frankly, a relief. We stopped for a break at the roadside and then walked another 6km to a taberna where we could get juice and coffee in the Sun.

Even the smallest places we’ve walked through in Basque country have been laden with posters and graffiti in support of Basque separatism and support of the Palestinians. The wording is often impenetrable – the Basque language is an x- and z-laden trial – but the meaning is clear.

After another 5km took us to a station where we put our plan into action and caught a local train the 8km into Bilboa. Yes, you read it right we didn’t walk the full way. On the other side of the coin instead of a 30-minute walk to food, I’m writing this on the terrace of our hotel with a view of the Guggenheim through a gin and tonic – so good plan.

Guggenheim and tonic

2 thoughts on “Camino del Norte 5 – incompletionist

  1. Great idea! Being ‘Purist’ for the sake of it is just stubborn. More room for grace when you are flexible.
    I have just finished reading Tom Chesshyre’s Slow Trains around Spain.
    I’m enjoying the chance to continue ‘travelling’ on my commutes to work by reading your blog.
    Keep going well. XX

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