16.02.2017 - 22.02.2017 12 °C
We crossed back into Spain and headed to Zamora
Although Zamora was a quick stop, we enjoyed an early evening and morning walk through the streets in the old town. We had lots of fun working out what we were dining on for our evening meal. Perched at the bar, with tasty plates in front of us to choose from and a menu in Spanish, we used our limited knowledge of the language, Google translate, our skills of observation, and a bit of luck to make some very satisfying selections!
Lynelle's fascination with storks heightened and many of our journeys became a game of 'Spot the Stork'! It came as no surprise that on passing a gift shop in Zamora, that just happened to have a window display of little lapel badges, she ducked in to make a quick purchase! She was intrigued to read of a British university student who had completed her PhD focusing on the behaviour of these migratory birds!
From Zamora it was another fabulous drive through to our accommodation near Deba, on the coast between Bilbao and San Sebastián. Our drive started through wide open agricultural plains that appeared to be quite intensively farmed. We then passed through mountains that reminded us a little of Italy, with their tunnels and viaducts making for a smooth and easy route over some pretty rugged territory. It was then out to the very populated coastline and along the N-634 to our guesthouse on the hill. On the drive that day, Lupi's odometer ticked over 20,000 miles since she became ours in January 2016!
Our guesthouse looked to be be purposely built to accommodate walkers (Pilgrims) on the El Camino trail and is marketed as an Organic Farm Home-stay. Rosa our host had no English however we had no problem communicating. We pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Sadly our friends Jacob and Raquel from Bilbao (who we had met on our travels in Central America) were away during our visit. However Jacob had given us some great advice about what we might do and see on our short visit. On our first day we drove up to the fabulous vantage point of El Parque de Artxanda. From this lovely park we got beautiful views out over the city.
We decided a downhill hike was in order and meandered our way down through tracks and streets to the city centre. We joined the procession around the magnificent Guggenheim. The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists.
Bronze, marble, and stainless steel
Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa
From Guggenheim Bilbao: "Almost 9 meters tall, Maman is one of the most ambitious of a series of sculptures by Bourgeois that take as their subject the spider, a motif that first appeared in several of the artist's drawings in the 1940s and came to assume a central place in her work during the 1990s. Intended as a tribute to her mother, who was a weaver, Bourgeois's spiders are highly contradictory as emblems of maternity: they suggest both protector and predator—the silk of a spider is used both to construct cocoons and to bind prey—and embody both strength and fragility. Such ambiguities are powerfully figured in the mammoth Maman, which hovers ominously on legs like Gothic arches that act at once as a cage and as a protective lair to a sac full of eggs perilously attached to her undercarriage. The spider provokes awe and fear, yet her massive height, improbably balanced on slender legs, conveys an almost poignant vulnerability."
The pedestrian current then took us out along the Nervión River. On considering the options to return to our car, the novelty of riding the Artxanda Funicular won over the walk back to the top!
Jacob had recommended we visit San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, so from Bilbao we headed out to the coast. Gaztelugatxe is an islet on the coast of Biscay. It is connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge. Being a Saturday, it was a popular location for groups, families and couples. (We were happy we had opted for the funicular ride on Bilbao as the hike out and back to this fantastic spot got the heart rate up!)
From here we carried on round the coast to Bermeo, a small fishing town Jacob had also recommended. We enjoyed a drink and afternoon snack and a walk around the town. One of the things that goes with inner city/town apartment living is the continuous presence of laundry drying from lines suspended out apartment windows. You wouldn't need to be shy about exposing your outer and inner clothing layers to the public, as patrons could well be partaking in a drink right below the line that these dangle from!
Bermeo was originally the provincial capital of this area, however this title was taken over by Bilbao in the early 1600s.
There were several beautiful brass statues dotted around the town. One such collection were looking anxiously out to sea, obviously concerned about the welfare of loved ones fishing. Part of the notation said, "And, they say fish is expensive." Two others were of women carrying baskets on their heads, illustrating how fish was carried to be sold in Bilbao about 34km away.
We enjoyed the space, comfort and kitchen at our guesthouse and cooked dinner for ourselves on the three nights.
On the Sunday morning we attended to a bit of admin and then headed off round the coastal road to San Sebastián. It was great to see people out and about enjoying a walk, run or bike along this beautiful scenic coastline. The small town of Orio was holding some sort of rowing regatta and the river was lined with spectators and cars.
We parked out near the much publicised Concha beach and once again joined the weekend crowd enjoying a walk along the promenade. We found a perfect spot to enjoy our 'picnic'. We took advantage of the walking tracks up Mont Urgull and were rewarded with superb views back over Concha beach, Santa Clara Island, the city centre and out the other side to the popular surf beach of Zurriola.
The narrow pedestrian streets were busy with people finishing their mid-afternoon dining on traditional pintxos. Of course having satisfied their appetites the next course of action was to go and enjoy a siesta for a few hours. The promenade and beach were decidedly quieter on our return to the car.
That night it was early to bed. The next day saw us joining the commuters on our long drive north into France to stay with Sandra Chubb in St André, Brittany. Thankfully this journey of about 830km was quite straightforward and we were warmly greeted by Sandra and her roaring fire on our arrival to Rainbow Cottages. We enjoyed a fabulous roast chicken dinner and great evening catching up with Sandra.
The next morning the decision was made to go ahead with 'the annual shear'. It wasn't quite a year since Denis had shorn Sandra's mob. On approaching the field it was like the sheep remembered this event and became suspicious. With gentle persuasion and a quick sidestep, they were caught, transported down to the shearing shed and the job was done in pretty short order!
It was such a treat to revisit Rainbow Cottages and relax and enjoy great conversation, company and laughter with Sandra at #22480.
We gave ourselves plenty of time to get to Cherbourg for our 9pm sailing to Rosslare, Ireland. This gave us an opportunity to make a quick stop in to visit Le Mont Saint-Michel, the much photographed island sitting 600m off the Normandy coast.
As the Stena Line Ferry pulled away from the port of Cherbourg we were left wondering when we might next visit the beautiful country of France.
Merci France. Nous prenons avec nous tant de bons souvenirs de notre temps ici.
The Woodsies xx