View/Sign my Guestbook
Brian "Gadget" Lewis
Begins: Sep 3, 2013
Date: Sun, Sep 1st, 2013
Entry Visits: 542
Journal Visits: 21,110
Guestbook Views: 601
Guestbook Entrys: 16
Today we bussed from Bilbao to the coast (and vacation) town of San
Sebastian. Thinking to get ourselves into hiking shape, we consulted the GPS map on my smartphone periodically to walk ourselves to our hotel. This may have been a mistake as those couple of miles weren't along a particularly scenic route and involved climbing up quite a ways in warm sunny weather, only to descend back down --- hugging the coast would have been better. Or taking another bus.
But undaunted, we later bussed back to the old part of town to walk around, strolled along the river, then walked along the beach to get back to the area of our hotel. Ann has a tradition of always dipping her hand into significant bodies of water she comes to, so we threaded our way through the relatively dense crowd strung out all along this wonderful beach to do so in the Atlantic.
The sort of traditional vacation time for Europeans is over now that it's September, but don't tell that to the crowds at the beach today. Which seemed odd to me, as the local news just last night showed a scene of this very same beach with far fewer people there, commenting on how folks are now going back to work. Ah well. And for my male friends I'll report that there were not all that many females sunbathing topless (this being Europe). But definitely some. Of course I, a mature man, accompanied by my wife, and an all-around upstanding American citizen, resolutely looked in other directions.
The scenery here really is stunning (semi-bare female flesh or no). It's a lovely bay with an island and a peninsula forming the mouth. The water temperature was reported to be the same as the air temperature, which I think was in the upper 70's (Farenheit, about 26, even 27 C). Lots of boats anchored in the bay, but not moving about to create waves. The one pesky jet-ski thing that we saw stayed well away from the extensive beach area, really quite out to sea.
After walking back along the arc of the beach we took a funicular (a sort of train designed to climb relatively short and very steep stretches) up to an overlooking hill for more extensive views. This was fun, as there's a sort of extended amusement park on the top of the hill that was pleasant to stroll through.
I'm kind of sorry that we didn't schedule a second day here, as it would be nice to swim in the warm water and just hang out here. Quite a variety of people, lots of families with kids of various ages running around. No animals at all on the beach; I imagine that they don't want to deal with dog poop in the sand that so many are walking barefoot through (?).
Apologies that I have no pictures to share of today; I wore somewhat less clothing than usual for today's stroll and thus left my phone (which doubles as my camera) at the hotel. I'm sure that a search for images on google of 'San Sebastian Spain' would turn up many photos that would all be superior to what I might have taken today.
Tomorrow we take a 9 a.m. bus to Bayonne, France, where we'll walk about town and have lunch until our mid-afternoon train leaves for St. Jean Pied-de-Port, this latter being our starting point to hike the Camino (everything so far as been sort of pre-hike vacation and getting adjusted to Spain). Perhaps we'll be able to snag our 'Pilgrim Credencials' late tomorrow afternoon, but we might well arrive too late for that. If so, we'll hopefully do that in Roncevalles.
The Pilgrim Credential is sort of like a passport type of booklet (as I understand) that you get stamped at various hostels, religious institutions, even on occasion post offices or bars in Camino towns to prove that you were there. It (and the inevitable conch shell decoration) is what shows you to be a pilgrim, and thus qualified to stay in pilgrim-only Albergues, and occasionally get discounts on certain meals at certain restaurants --- that sort of thing. This vacation has been a bit expensive on a per-day basis starting out, but should get to be much more reasonable once we start walking everywhere and not staying in hotels and eating in touristy big cities and so forth.
One minor annoyance is that I still don't have phone (nor cellular
internet) service. The very nice girl at the Moviestar shop typed in an incorrect character for my email address, so that I've been unable to register with the service. They had closed (at 2 pm on Saturdays) when I went back to sort it out, and everything is closed in Spain on Sunday's.
Tomorrow (Monday) I'll be in France and then who knows when I'll be in a big enough town to have such a shop and be there when they're open.
This is a great opportunity for me to put myself into the sort of pilgrim mindset, that of someone here in Spain to clear the cobwebs from their brain and learn from --- rather than succumb to --- whatever frustrations occur. I can't change what happened (though perhaps there's a lesson to learn from it). And in the end it's not that big a deal (free wi-fi at the hotel we're staying at tonight certainly helps, however).
Ann remains a great travel companion (as always). She took French in high school, but retains little of it now so I expect we'll make do tomorrow with a handful of French words, lots of smiles, and some combination of hand gestures, English, and Spanish. This sort of thing can be frustrating too, but sometimes it can be fun.
The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat, for their spiritual growth.