What a tough and confusing day! Today was hot and sunny, which is better than rainy but the sun sure can drain our energy. Also, despite following the only yellow arrows we saw, we ended up on portions of three different routes. We have two sets of GPS routes from Wikiloc and the Camino del Norte guide book. So far, the guide book has been most accurate but today it failed us. Actually, it just confused us – we made it to where we were heading but not the way we expected.
Before walking today, we were already in trouble. The bed was so comfortable that we had a great sleep, just longer than planned. I set the alarm wrong and we got up 45 minutes later than expected. Between that and breakfast at an “all too tempting” Barry in town, we didn’t start walking until 8:20am. Normally with a short 22km day planned, that would still be okay but the mid-day sun and cloudless sky sapped us. also, we did not have a pensión booked so we needed to hurry a bit.
After breakfast, we followed the only arrows we saw out of town – the same set of arrowsthat we followed into town yesterday afternoon and through town before breakfast. Instead of leading us over a 180m hill, it took us to the coast road to Getaria. We assumed we were on some new version of the route, expecting to turn at any moment but we never did. I have since found out that this was an official variant but where the arrows were to the normal route, I don’t know. At least some pilgrims found them, I was told.
The coastal route was nice (and flat!) so I can’t say we complained too much. It was a lovely walk, shared with a sizeable number of weekend walkers and runners. It also had the added benefit of passing through Getaria, famous as the home town of the first person to sail around the world – and, no, it wasn’t Ferdinand Magellan like we learned in school. (Hint: Juan Sebastián Elcano)
After Getaria, we climbed a bit and joined with the official Camino. We then continued along the the trail to the steep descent into Zumaia and the climb up the hills on the other side of the river. Eventually we got to the little hamlet of Elorriaga. This is where things went screwy again. We followed the arrows south then west toward Itziar as the Gronze website (an unofficial Camino guide) describes. But about 1.5km later, we realised that this wasn’t the route from the guidebook. What to do? There was no chance of turning around but this was the wikiloc route we had on GPS. We were spooked a bit but knew we would eventually get to Deba.
The descent into Deba will make my knees tremble at least until tomorrow. Once at sea level, we set out looking for the pensións. We had a phone but no pre-booking as they were not on Agoda or Booking.com. Sadly, we walked all over this town without finding a place with vacancies. I guess the weekend crowd at the beach flash booked everything. That meant we headed to the tourist office to book two beds in the albergue. Oh boy. Tomorrow only has an albergue option so we will be sleeping with the snorers two nights in a row. The albergue is pretty nice though and currently has about 30 of the 56 beds occupied. 5€ for a bed and shower isn’t too bad a deal. They have a single washer and dryer so we joined with a few other pilgrims to wash and dry our clothes. They don’t allow you to hang anything outside so it was the only real option for not stinking tomorrow.
A note to those following us: if you are using the Gronze site as a guide for staying in pensións or cheap hotels, the prices have gone up. Expect to pay about 10-20€ more than they quote. That will be a budget buster for many. Also, yesterday in Zarautz, only 6 people stayed in the albergue. I think most people on this route are trying to stay in a little more upmarket accommodations but I could be wrong.
With the late arrival and the stay in the albergue, I’ll have to keep today’s blog short. Expect the same tomorrow, if I am able to post at all. It’s possible that there won’t be wi-fi.