Saturday-Sunday, 13-14 April 2013
San Sebastián and Irun
I had intended to spend the weekend in San Sebastián and continue walking on Monday. I wanted to watch some of the rugby matches involving the Irish clubs – it was nearing the climax of the season, but there was no wifi in the pension. Moreover the room was uncomfortable and rather expensive, at least by my standards, so I decided to return by Euskotren to the comfortable and inexpensive hotel in Irun for the weekend.
Despite the forecast of heavy rain over the weekend, I woke to blue skies. I passed the morning wandering around and spent some time in a tiny café, with a coffee and reading the newspapers. Every bar and café in Spain (and most of Europe) has the local and national papers readily available to read, and I usually took advantage of them.
Early afternoon I caught the Euskotren back to Irun, arriving in time to watch the first game.
Monday 15 April 2013
San Sebastián to Zaraútz – 20 km
I left the hotel early and shortly after 08h00 I was back in San Sebastián, on my way to the beach and the promenade along Bahia de la Concha. The pavements and benches were still wet from the overnight rains, but the sky was clear and the early morning sun felt warm and reassuring.
From the end of the promenade the path climbed to the top of the headland and from there it undulated, parallel to the coast, finally descending abruptly to the little fishing port of Orio.
I stopped in the little square by the river and had my typical lunch – una caña y una ración de tortilla con pan. I sat outside, in the shade, as the sun was strong, even if it was still early in the year. On one side of the square were several examples of apartments with dark wooden balconies and façades. They looked so solid, and reminded me of similar buildings in the old quarter of Lima.
From the square the route crossed the river, and then followed the riverbank toward the sea. Just before the headland, the path turned up a steep valley, and ahead of me I could see a rather frail old man, moving very slowly. He had a large pack and sticks in both hands. When I caught up with him he turned out to be an old Frenchman walking to Santiago de Compostela from somewhere near Bordeaux. He spoke no English nor Spanish and he seemed to be more than a little bewildered. We chatted for some time about nothing and everything – he reminded me very much of my old friend Roy Bishop. Eventually I wished him ‘Buen Camino’ and moved on. The old man had about another 700 km to walk to Santiago. I suspect that he either made it, or died on the way. He neither looked like nor sounded like a man who would ever give up. One day that may be me.
Once at the top of the valley there was a short walk along an escarpment followed by a steady descent to the main road into Zaraútz.
I had no problem in finding an inexpensive room, but it turned out to very cold and damp. It felt like a room that had not been inhabited since the previous summer. But once showered and dressed and seated in a nearby bar with a beer and a newspaper, I was quite revived. I had a walk around the town, but there was a cold wind from the sea, so I returned to the bar and snacked on tapas, washed down with a delicious red wine.
Being a Monday evening, the bar was quiet and the barmaid had time to chat. I asked her about the walk next day to Deba and she said that it was similar to the walk from Zaraútz. But she said that the next two days after Deba were quite challenging. Apart from the small village of Markina-Xemein there was nothing for about 50 km, not even a farm. And there were some steep sections. She advised me not to tackle it alone, especially as there had been a lot of rain and me with a noticeable limp.
When I went to bed it was once more raining heavily. I was not quite sure as to what I was going to do the next day.
Tuesday 16 April 2017
Zaraútz to Mundaka
Next morning, when I saw how wet everything was outside from the overnight rain and with more heavy rain forecast for the next few days, I decided to call a halt to the walking and leave it for another time and warmer weather. The camino and the mountains will still be there.
So after a leisurely breakfast, I headed to the station and caught the train to Lemoa, where I would have to change to another train to Mundaka. The train progressed slowly, going on a long loop to avoid the mountainous area that I had intended in crossing on foot. It took over two hours to get to Lemoa, where the train to Mundaka left just as I was crossing the bridge to the other platform. I had to wait for an hour on the deserted platform of the unstaffed station for the next train.
The train to Mundaka consisted of two small carriages, more like two joined-up buses on rails. Progress was slow and there were frequent stops, including two in the town of Gernika-Lumo, better known as Guernica. It was the scene of the first major aerial bombing by the German Nazi Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War. They had been ‘invited’ by Franco to practice their tactics on a real target. The town was razed and official reports claimed that 1654 people were killed. It inspired the famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso. I don’t imagine that many Mercedes, BMWs or Volkswagens are ever sold in Guernica.
The station at Mundaka is on the hill at the edge of the town and from there I walked down through the narrow streets to the open square in front of the church. There I found a room in a very comfortable hotel.
I was about to start my search for the Lázaga family (see here).