San Sebastián to Zarautz
880 feet of elevation gain (and loss)
I woke up this morning rather sore, and rather tired. Motivation was lacking, but within a few minutes I was up and in the shower. Followed by a whirlwind of activity. I managed to cull some weight from my pack. Ditching a few extra items that I brought. Someone on the house keeping staff is the new owner of a virtually new pair of Levi’s.
The shower seemed to ease a good deal of soreness from my muscles, as did the simple act of moving around.
I made my way down to the restaurant in the hotel which featured an all you can eat buffet. A hikers dream come true. I ate my fill and hit the boardwalk out of town. At the end of the boardwalk began a moderate ascent into the hills. Urban bustle was quickly replaced by the calmness of forest. Much of the walk was on a small one lane road, that continued on into rural farmland. Farmland with sweeping views of the sea.
Cows grazed without a worry in the world. Coming from California, we are shown marketing claiming, “Happy California Cows.”
Recalling these commercials, I chuckled to myself, “These are happy cows.”
I passed a number of pilgrims along the way, having the pleasure of walking with a woman from Sweden for a half an hour. The Camino was an 11 year dream of hers. She had read a book about it and bided her time until all 3 of her boys were out of school and the house. Her joy was evident. We talked about the current political climate in the US and Sweden. I reassured her, I didn’t vote for the Orange Clown. She nearly tripped from laughing so hard.
I made the comment regarding the long winters in Sweden, and she added, “Ah yes, the winters are quite long, AND IN THE DARK”.
It was a pleasant interaction, which was over as quickly as it started. As is the normal day of a pilgrim. People move in and out of your day, but you often are reacquainted at a later time by chance.
Two substantial climbs and descents within the day, the second being lesser of the two. Both being considerably less challenging than the first day. Both from a grade and elevation gain, and the comfort of your legs acclimating to the demands of the hike.
Between the two climbs of the day is a small inland port town of Orio. Clearly intended as a repair facility for larger vessels and safe harbor for a small fishing fleet. I stopped and had a quick bite of lunch, before making the short ascent out through vineyards and cattle grazing. Homes dotting the hills were large estates to large to merely be supported by the agroeconomics they produce, they were stunning. This is true of much of the Basque region of Spain. Agricultural homes, supported by the land, and income from professional occupations.
Descending into Zarautz was similar to that of San Sebastián. Zarautz being a smaller city set right against the sea with both the sea and the mountains as a back drop depending on your perspective.
Zarautz is known for surfing. Several world champion surfers, call the city home. The size and structure of the waves speaks to the allure to surfers. Frankly, the sea was a stunning display of beauty and the raw power of tidal action.
When I arrived in town, I made my way to my hotel. It was a quaint little place which reminded me of a hotel from an old British series called Fawlty Towers. Not necessarily from the way it was run, but the setup and staff just seemed similar. It was fun!
I had the good fortune of befriending a local. He was kind of enough to share some of the history of the town, along with the stories of big waves which frequently occur. He shared a story of a perfect winter storm that produced massive waves. He showed me a photo on the side of a surf shop of a world class surfer ride a monster wave from this perfect storm. The surfer looks miniature compared to the massive wall of water baring down on him. He claimed the waves in this particular storm ranged from 30-60 feet. While a boon for surfers, the storm proved very destructive to the boardwalk and businesses along the water front. Much of the boardwalk was completely destroyed and had to be rebuilt. He pointed out the difference, between the long sections of old board walk that were made of cut stone imported from the countryside, and the new boardwalk of solid poured concrete. It was evident he was saddened the boardwalk couldn’t be restored to the same aesthetics as the old boardwalk.
As it is with Basque people, they are very proud of the region and desire for it to look the best, and maintain its rich history.
It was a pleasant evening and I was more enriched having met him than I would have from my own meandering wander through town.
Physically my body is adapting to the hike quicker than anticipated. However I also know overuse injury is a constant consideration. I have a few hot spots on my feet, but fortunately no blisters to this point.
Tomorrow I am going to make it a short day, as I feel the need to rest to allow recovery. This is definitely a marathon and not a sprint.
Tomorrow I am on to Getaria, a short 3.5 mile walk to a smaller sea side town.
Thank you for following along my journey.