Our original thought was to walk from Bilbao along the Camino de Santiago, known as The Way, hugging the northern coast of Spain.
We spent a few nights in a hostel hoping to connect with other pilgrims already on the trail. There were not that many. And a couple we met were actually planning on taking a bus to save 5 days of the hike. Well, we followed suit, it was shaping up to be a muddy walk anyway. That’s when we accepted the fact, you can do The Way, any way that’s right for you. So we deliberated on it. We figured we were doing plenty of walking exploring the cities, and that walking to each one would limit our exploration time. So we changed our plans and are now taking a bus between our chosen cities. Following the golden rule of The Way, we are doing it our way.
This is a beach town about 100 miles west of Bilbao. Had we walked this distance, it would’ve taken about 7 days. Instead, Spain’s extraordinarily timely, USB-ready, and clean bus transported us. Gone are the busses of wood benches, standing-room-only and heavy body odor. (I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself from comparing our travel days in 1985.) We stayed in the Sardinero district, in a home that was 70 years old, and maybe a little crumbly & crooked. Our hosts’ father built the home when the area was mostly a fishing town, and views of the bay could be had from their doorstep. Today it is a wealthy district, complete with high-end hotels, golf course and casino. They have a long promenade that borders several golden beaches
and is capped with a lighthouse on one end and Palacio de la Magdalena on the other. I don’t know anything about the palace, but I could not think of a better place to put one.
This town has fishing roots which run deep, and with a name like Sardinero, we knew we had to try the sardines.
They were delicious. Add the hugs & kisses from the chef, and it was a meal memory to last a lifetime.
Yet another coastal town along the shores of northern Spain (Woody knows I like ocean.) I don’t believe Gijón pops up on too many travel books, but in my opinion it is worthy of a stop. It is in this town I am beginning to be comfortable with hugs & kisses from strangers, and maybe my hair being petted too.
In Gijón our hostess is super cool. She doesn’t speak English, yet she does a perfect job to make us feel welcome, and to share traditions of her hometown. Like, introducing la sidre. Our first la sidre experience was a little bumpy, we were rookies.
Thankfully the patrons next to us briefly chuckled at our gaffe, then gave us proper introduction to the etiquette. (These are my most favorite travel experiences: those awkward moments.) Here is a proper la sidre pour:
The objective is to have a little bubble action going on when you drink it. The bubbles are brief, so they pour a small amount, and you drink it quickly – at the finer establishments the waiters wind up running around filling glasses endlessly (and tirelessly). As our host described, with perfect pantomime, make sure to eat food with la sidre, so you are “ha ha ha ha”, no food and you are “woo woo wooooo”. What language barrier??
Gijón has a lively beach promenade. I believe one significant difference from any US promenade, and what we see in Spain, has been the lack of any device in people’s hands while promenading. It’s about family and socializing. Unless you’re a surfer, then it’s about the waves. I think the waves are bigger & more challenging than we saw San Sebastián.
Two More Gijón Highlights
We were pleasantly surprised to find relics of ancient Roman baths, free on the day we were there. Constructed somewhere between 15-20 AD, they were not discovered until the 20th century, having been completely built on top of.
Like any proper Roman baths, walls were painted alfresco:
My other highlight was this gal:
Spain has plenty of statues, but this one moved me. Her tortured face has such an effect, that locals have called her La Loca.
The statute honors the mothers who had to say goodbye – knowing it could be forever – to their children, who headed for a better life in America, during the great immigration of the 1920s.
On that note, I’m going to wrap up this post. The week has been a full one, and I think I need to break these posts up. Hopefully, they will be easier to digest if I do it this way.
Thank you again for following.