So I finally did it. After much angst, procrastination and working through a multitude of reasons “why not”, I am at the airport on my way to Bilbao. I booked my tickets really late, only 3 days ago. Bought a new, smaller pack, a couple more socks and a bed bug liner. Hubs was a lot more hands off with helping me pack this time around. In fact, I only finished packing 8 hours ago.

Pulling out my boots, clothes and other knick knacks felt surpringly familiar. It was like seeing old friends again. Particularly my poles and my boots. I had bought new shoes but I decided to stick with my hard Saloman boots. I wasn’t sure what the weather would be like. Having booked everything, I became quite calm, just moving along with what had to be done. I knew it would be this way. I knew I would go. I had decided. I was dealing with my inner struggles that also always wants to undecide. Buyers’ remorse is what they call it sometimes. “I’m staring at you, Buyers’ remorse. I’m tired of playing your games.”

I walked out in the dark to catch the bus to Heathrow. No one was about at 5.30 am. Having lightened the load even more last night, my pack gel suspiciously light. I worry if I’ve forgotten something. Change of clothes, stuff, what? I guess packing for a week is a different equation to packing for 6 weeks. Or maybe, I’ve learned to discard my stuff. Or maybe I just suddenly felt the freedom of the walk beneath my feet. You’d be proud of me – from a 48L Exos pack to a 30L Tempest. I’m proud of me really. I chucked a lot of stuff out on account of being only a week, half of which is staying in pensions. The biggest one is the sleeping bag in favour of the silk bag.

The only thing I felt regret was I couldn’t find my hiking trousers. I searched all over the house. In fact, I had to search for all my hiking stuff. It was everywhere! I realise that the things I wanted are getting lost amongst the things I’ve yet to deal with. In the end, I found a pair of chinos that was ready to go to the tip and brought those along in case I needed to chuck it.

Seeing the green of the Spanish countryside from the plane suddenly brought the experience of the Camino France’s back in a rush. From the air, I could see the high mountains crumpled along a ridge. It was as rugged as it was stunning. The descent was a stomach churning roller coaster ride. The pilot was kind enough to give us a heads up that this would happen. Something to do with the the mountains causing turbulence. It was really quite awful. I felt quite sick. In fact, I wasn’t so sure I was going to make it. Not feeling sick, I mean. Thank goodness the pilot was thoughtful enough to mention that it would ease off, and that was the only thought I was hanging onto.

Getting around in public transport in Bilbao was fairly easy. The bus 345 is very easy to find and takes you straight to the termibus. On the way in, you’ll pass the Guggenheim museum. There’s a stop nearby so you can easily drop there for a visit and the bus up later to the termibus. Once at the termibus, catching the ALSA bus was fairly straightforward.  If you booked online, do print off the itinerary of stops to remind you that the bus really does stop at the town you want to go to. That is, unless your Spanish is really good which mine is non-existent. I just had to hope that I remembered correctly. 

English pop music played quietly through the sound system. This is what I remember about Spain, they listen to a lot of American music. The driver spoke in Spanish announcing our departure. Ah yes, that familiar lisp of the Spanish accent.

I was quite surprised how quickly I slipped into camino mode. Everything seemed familiar. And though I’d not taken the bus before nor been in this route, it was not hard for me to figure out. The trip itself was long. Though time slipped away and I dozed off a lot, my body started feeling quite stiff. There were a lot of stops with people coming and going. The whole system was pretty efficient. I passed road signs pointing off to Pamplona and logrono. Wow, so familiar. Suddenly a whole world of imagery was available to me.it’s not even 6 months since I walked the route through those towns. Yet it feels like a whole lifetime ago. So much has happened in between, both distance and in thinking.

I got into Llanes tired. Seems like another thing is familiar about Spain. I skipped lunch. Took me a while to find my hotel, and the tourism office to get information about routes out of town and albergues coming up.

My friend didn’t make it to Llanes.

 

The skies above Bilbao
  
Llanes, near the Office du tourisme, with mountains in the background.
  
Fancy yachts in the old port where some of the ships fir the Spanish armada were supplied.
  
An Asturian mansion.
  
A familiar, friendly sight. it does warm my heart.
 

 

Rugged mountains and the sea.
  
Quiet and peaceful at dusk with only the seagulls yapping.
  
Wild seas tamed by man-made concrete rocks.