Monday, 25 April 2011

San Sebastian

It was like the passing of a baton when we met Mikel and Rosa in the streets of San Sebastian and Peru and Uri said their goodbyes.  Mikel and Rosa love cycle touring - they have been together (and cycle touring) for 15 years - the last 6 with children.  They met us with their bikes - each adult with a child attached in someway to their bike.  After a little gelato (I was so full from lunch but Mikel advised that particular gelateria was the best place in the world for icecream and his recommendation was the "Milk and Rice" - how could I resist?) - we set off for a tour of San Sebastian.  San Sebastian is a beautiful city. It has a clean, long beach (three, infact) with a nicely developed waterfront (stone walled walkways); then a clean compact city (all apartment buildings); flanked by green hills and cute farms.  We biked towards the Castle - a steep climb up a hill - and enjoyed the view of the city.

The next day we joined Mikel and Rosa and the children for a 'walk'.  I guess I should have realised from the bike ride up the big hill to see the Castle the previous day that Mikel and Rosa are a very fit and energetic couple - nevertheless we set out for our walk - within 5 minutes we were walking along tiny  (steep) rural roads, past little farms.  We eventually ended up circling around back towards the city; to a theme park at the top of a hill.  Mikel said the theme park has not changed in 30 years since he was a child!   There didn't seem to be many rides open, despite a number of people milling around.  I was keen to try something, so Julie and I went through "La Casa de Terror".....  Hmm.  It involved walking along a dark trail past dusty old skeletons and dinosaurs, some of which moved with mechanical sounds....  Certainly not scary and rather antique!   Then the roller coaster started up and we jumped on - what fun!   There was a cigar-smoking driver and about 20 seats.  And no seatbelts.  Good thing it didn't do any loops or spirals.   It was really exhilarating - we sat right at the back and screamed on the downhills.

The next day, Monday, Mikel guided us out of San Sebastian along bicycle paths towards our next major destination - St Jean Pied de Port - the start of the Camino de Santiago.
  He took us up until 10km along a Greenways route (an old railway route) then we said our goodbyes.  It felt a bit funny to suddenly be on our own - it was our first time since arriving in Spain to be just us two.  It was raining and the path was gravel so it was fairly slow-going.  We arrived in the next village of Leitz and checked gratefully into the Hostal Musunzar - we were dripping wet but the manager was most gracious and didn't look at all put-out.

Tonight we will eat a 3-course 'set menu' in the hotel - complete with wine - for 12 euros each. Can't wait!

When we get to St Jean Pied de Port we will start the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.  It will be a bit interesting to see how we go with the bikes - I'm expecting we will give up at times and just take the road, as it can be steep and rocky in places - not much fun with a loaded touring bike!  We will take a week or so to arrive in Santiago de Compostello; from there weather and time-permitting we will follow the coast back towards France; completing a loop of northern Spain/Basque country.

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