We cycled into Bilbao from our hilltop free camp (where we had our first experience of ticks on the trip so far) using the Garmin Dakota GPS for our first serious piece of city navigation – it performed like a charm. Arriving at the Hostel a little early we circled the block before carrying out some tent-drying/wind-sculpture-art-installation outside the Guggenheim.
After a quick shower we had the most awesome menu del dia with a dessert chocolate cake that is seriously the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I have also started drinking cafe con leche (a mini flat white), so after half a bottle of wine, lovely food and coffee we were ready for an English language tour of the Guggenheim. The tour was really useful with a passionate art history student leading us through the current Robert Rauschenberg and Anish Kapoor exhibitions. After the tour we wandered the museum soaking in its architecture, lights and blend of contemporary and historical artwork. With our culture and food appetites mostly sated we ended the day by visiting a few pintxo bars for some gourmet snacks.
The next day after making a full 24 hours use of our hostel room we cycled a leisurely 24km to Gerliz and a campground 700m from a gorgeous sandy beach. The water was way too cold for swimming but it was good to feel sand between our toes and smell the salt air. From Gerliz we headed on east towards our next campsite.
Being a Saturday morning we found ourselves in the midst of almost wheel-to-wheel road cyclists accompanying our progress with varied head nods, “Holas!”, “Hellos” and “Aupas”. Emma steamed ahead trying to pass cyclists on bikes half the weight of hers before we turned onto quieter roads into Lekeitio. The campground we found had soft grass, free Wifi, very friendly campers but was at the top of a hill that defeated both Emma and I into pushing our bikes the last few metres. At the campsite we met Cecil who informed us his son had just arrived in New Zealand on a world cycling trip like us. After an exchange of emails and offers of help in Spain/New Zealand Cecil presented us with a bottle of chilled Rioja to accompany our dinner of leek and mushroom risotto. Thanks Cecil!!
Sunday we set out for San Sebastian with our route heading mainly along the coast with a mix of gentle climbs and descents between industrial fishing villages, seaside resorts and the town of Zarautz which was in full festival mode. While we had lunch we concocted various explanations for the fact everybody was wearing blue and had checked scarves on, the most popular option related to human tower building but after Emma bravely asked a local we discovered they were celebrating their patron saint St. Elmo (or something like that). We ended the day with yet another big climb to a campsite at the top of a big hill but this time we both managed to cycle to the gates.