I’m going to be honest.
I will be celebrating my second anniversary in the Basque Country this July 30th, and I do not have a single Basque surname. The Basques pride themselves if they come from pure stock of having all their surnames from both sets of grandparents being Basque. Hence the name of 2014’s successful comedy Ocho Apellidos Vascos. (Their attempt for a translation into English as “A Spanish Affair” is so off the mark I refuse to acknowledge it.)
What does that have to do with the Camino de Santiago Camino del Norte, you ask?
Because the part from Zumaia to Deba goes through some parts that were seen in the film. (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.)
Sunday morning, my alarm went off, and I slept a half hour more before getting up, having a quick breakfast and catching the metro to catch the Euskotren at Bouleta at 9:03. The train arrived at Zumaia at 11:00, and I had a quick pintxo de tortilla and kafesnea (café con leche, I ordered in Euskera) before deciding to go ahead and take the Camino instead of detouring for the route by the cliffs. I was pretty sure they rejoined, but this way I have a good excuse to return to Zumaia and revisit their incredible flysch beaches. I think there was some sort of festival going on due to the blue/white pañuelos (handkerchief) being worn about. There was a big group of hikers who I let ahead by visiting an ermita (hermitage?). I stepped out, admiring the amazing views, and something looked incredibly familiar.
The ermita on the other trail, which was visible from the Camino, was the one featured in Ocho Apellidos Vascos! I could see a ton of people walking up to it from my vantage point. I made the right decision not to detour.
I stopped for a quick café and upload some pics to Instagram (Setmeravelles if you want to follow!) and a stamp in the credentials in Elorriaga.
The clouds came in, and there was a lot of walking up and down slopes today. None of them were too bad. The trail took me through some closed gates on farms, which at first gave me pause. However, I knew they would alter the Camino a bit if the farms were closed and it was just to keep motor vehicles away. I felt even better about this decision when I saw a very small stand selling honey (miel) and cider (sidra) along the way.
The views were spectacular, the sort that only Euskadi and their clouds can offer. I wonder if the cows, sheep and goats are able to admire the beauty they were in.
The rain kept off, as the forecast said. I bought a new backpack/rucksack poncho just in case.
The Camino ran along a highway for a bit, and I was glad when it turned to a side road. This was when a car snuck up behind me, as it was a used side road (I read a lot of John Irving so forgive the italiacs). I was getting hungry, and I was looking forward to arriving in Itziar. Running through some more beautiful farms, the Camino kept stretching out before me before my arrival in Itziar.
The town, which I think also had a few scenes filmed in for Ocho Apellidos Vascos, seemed a bit cold to me. The church was a cold grey but beautiful inside. I was a bit mad that there wasn’t a cheap place to eat open on Sunday that I could find, but as Deba was only four kilometres away, I decided to just have a really late lunch there. I rested a bit, taking in some beautiful sites and tried to find a place for a stamp. No such luck, although the town’s crowded restaurant (wayyy expensive though) might have had them. The udaletxea (ayuntamiento/town hall) was closed. The sun was over the Cantabrian Sea and the clouds were on the other side of me over the Basque mountains. Only in Euskadi.
The walk to Deba went quick, but I was also quickly tiring. I had to put on my rain jacket over my hoodie as I was getting cold. A really cute dog ran up to me, and the owner apologised. I was content giving it a ton of attention, however. I saw some more cows and a donkey making a lot of noises. There were a few ermitas I would’ve liked to have seen a kilometre out of my way, so I decided to save them for that day I do the coastal Gran Recorrido between Deba and Zumaia.
I had been to Deba a few times before, and I am quite happy that my next few days on the Camino will be within my Barrik zone where I can just touch my card and pay for my transport too and from Bilbao. I went to the beach after another quick pintxo. One thing about Deba, they have some of the worst customer service I have ever seen, no matter where I go. (The Oficina de Turismo, however, was quite nice when I was there in May 2014). The Iberian Peninsula is not known for customer service, and I’m quite okay with that being an introvert. However, this town has some of the rudest bartenders/waiters/baristas I’ve seen. I will just credit it to my bad luck and coincidence.
I got a stamp in the credentials passport at the official albergue (hostel). For anyone staying here, it looks incredibly nice (and is above the train station). Get the keys at the tourism office if they are open or from the police station in the “udaletxea” if they are not. I sort of wished I was staying the night because it looked so nice. Alas, I had some private classes the next day (Monday, writing this entry the day I went, Sunday, to be published on Wednesday, so I hope all my tenses are correct in this entry!).
I changed from the Euskotren to BizkaiBus in Eibar (more comfortable than the winding train) and saw that the udaletxea was flying the flag of the Spanish Republic and not Spain’s current flag. I didn’t have a chance to snap a photo of it, but I’m wondering what the future holds for the Greatest Peninsula in the World…
The next part, Deba-Markina, is said to be one of if not THE hardest part of the Camino del Norte. Steep slopes and no towns or villages. It’s about 25 kilometres. I’m sort of thankful next weekend looks to be rainy, as it means I can procrastinate tackling it some more. However, I’m also anxious to tackle it as it means I will have completed ONE province (Gipuzkoa) as I start BIZKAIA (Vizcaya).
PS: I was reading Los últimos días de nuestros padres by the awesome Jöel Dicker on the train. This is more a note to myself than anything else.
PPS: More formatting issues. Should I drop the captions?