shitty hostel in Bilbao, Spain.
should’ve stayed in a hotel, this place is full of kids and it’s the
weekend so they’re all going to be mashed later and crashing about
the place. It’s my own fault. There are 15 beds in this dorm. I’ve
been spoiled thus far. I’m properly knackered today. Okay, let’s go
back and I’ll try and get down as much as I can before I inevitably
pass out or at least retire to my bed- thankfully on the bottom bunk.
got up at 7 and packed my shit up, grabbed an OJ and some toast
around the corner and then grabbed some bread and tortilla and a
chocolate bar from the only other place that was open, the fruiterias
don’t open until ten- I’ll be long gone by then.
first part of the walk is straight up a massive fucking hill. Just
five kms of going up a fucking hill. It’s a little disheartening to
begin the day this way, but I push on. By nine it has rained and it
continues to shower intermittently all day. By the time I take my
pack off, put my jacket on and the put my pack back on the rain has
passed. This happens about fifteen times, the comedic timing of which
is not lost on me.
OJ, toast, butter, jam, bread, tortilla, coffee, chocolate, raisins,
dates, chicken, mushrooms, potatoes, one beer, 5 litres of water.
Tomorrow I’m going to hunt down a green vegetable in this
Groin at 80%, left arch achy, left buttock likewise, neck tight,
knees not having the greatest time.
Buena Vista, Portugalete.
was obviously too tired to do anything last night, I got into bed and
watched Weekly Wipe on youtube and then went to sleep.
make surprisingly good time and then I come across a dog in the
middle of the pathway. It’s barking, obviously, because all the dogs
around here are barking all the time. Usually the fucking mental ones
are tied up and the chill/harmless ones just let you roll by. This
dog, I can’t tell which he is, although he’s not tied up. He’s like a
muscly, pit-bullish-boxer mix and he has scars. He barks as I
approach, I have a large stick I’d been using to get through the mud,
so I feel a little more confident. But the dog doesn’t back of as I
approach, he’s clearly guarding a property line. So I make myself
meek and try and walk through the brambles and nettles beside the
road. I think this dog would’ve given up and just let me round but
whenever it seems like he’s going to chill there’s a little dog
behind hum that chips in- like the shit-disturber friend who always
gets his friends to fight for him. I hate this dog. I hate them both.
They are cunts. I know, it’s the owners, I know.
i’m stood in some nettles and brambles by the side of the road, the
chunky fucker has manoeuvred himself round so I can’t really go
anywhere. I wait for a bit, seeing if they get bored and bugger off,
but nothing else happens around here, this is clearly the highlight
of their week, they haven’t seen a person in weeks. I imagine that
maybe the owners are home in the farmhouse behind and will come out
to se what the commotion is and call of the dogs. Nope. Then I wonder
how far behind me the other guys are. I’ve probably done about
18-20kms, they probably started way after me and are taking their
time, only the Catalan guy is going as far as me anyway.
trample through the nettles and over a pile of fire wood, I’m
basically making a circle around the property, amazingly the dogs
keep following me, this is fucking ridiculous. I get stung and cut
and wonder if I should just man up, but every time I move forwards
the muscly dog gets more aggressive. It’s not worth being savaged, is
end up climbing over a fence into another field and walking a
kilometre around only to have my shorts caught on a barbed-wire fence
and ripped from my groin down the back of my leg. I’m a kilometre
away and the dogs are still barking. They win this time. Fuckers.
arrive in a town called Lezama and I have a coffee, it’s very strong
and I know if I have another dog incident after I drink it I might
well start crying or have a heart-attack. I change my socks, change
my shorts into jeans and head on towards Bilbao.
next seven kilometres are a straight ascent. I turn a corner, it’s a
hill and then another hill and then a corner and it goes down for a
hundred or so metres and then I turn a corner and it goes up even
further. These two stages are often done separately, but I know I’ll
have an easy day after this so it’s fine. The descent into Bilbao is
hardly marked at all, but it’s fairly obvious, I join onto the side
of a main road for a while and walk downwards into traffic. An then
it starts to piss down. Heavily. The next hour I am getting hammered
by the rain whilst trying to follow a trail through the city and
maybe a sign which indicates a Pilgrim’s hostel of some kind- these
are fairly obvious in other places thus far. After a little
frustration I ask a cab driver to take me to a hostel I have the name
of. He tells me there’s one closer, it might be better. I trust him,
it’s very close, I try and tip him, he refuses, I love him.
check into this place opposite the Guggenheim. It’s over-priced and
they charge extra for a blanket. Cunts. It’s fine. I shower. I’ve
clocked 38kms, again, more than it says in the guide, although that
doesn’t account for diversions due to dangerous dogs I suppose.
chat to a young German kid who is doing the Camino, it’s taken him
eleven days to get this far and he got a bus once. He doesn’t like
Bilbao. He whines, he’s twenty, I mentally confirm that he can fuck
right off. I chat to a Venezuelan guy, 24- he asks me why I’m
speaking Spanish, I explain that I am in Spain. He doesn’t
understand. He’s here to try and do a Masters Degree at the
University in September, he needs a visa, he needs work, his bank
card doesn’t work. He tells me how shitty Venezuela is, no work, no
opportunity, nothing to buy even if you do have money. He tells me
it’s a third world country. He asks me if he can join me for food,
but then adds that he wants to put it on his credit card and can I
give him cash. This would ordinarily sound like a scam, but this kid
is so genuine and quite dumb really- no, not dumb, he’s just never
been outside of his country and he’s lived with his Mother until two
days ago. We go for food, it’s not very good, but it’s not the worst
thing I’ve ever had. I give him 13 Euros.
get back to the hostel and there are five young girls, each drinking
their own bottle of wine. We chat to them for a moment. They are au
pairs working in Santander, there’s two Brits and Aussie and two
Americans. They’re going to a party at the Guggenheim, they do it one
Friday of every month. It sounds excellent, but I’m way too tired. I
make my excuses and head too the dorm. Emilio asks me to retranslate
a few of the things we were saying and then he asks me what he should
do. I’m slow on the uptake. I tell him to go the fucking party. Go.
near me has a youth bible on their bed. Holy fuck, quite literally.
It turns out to be this really sweet, squat Mexican girl who I chat
to for a bit. She’s at university in Chester of all places. Fair
today. I got up around 8.30, had some breakfast, the usual bread and
butter and jam situation. I chat to some Austrian guy for a bit, nice
fella. The au pairs are hungover. The German kid is depressed. Emilio
the Venezuelan still has halitosis. It’s raining a bit, but nothing
serious. I check the weather. It’s going to rain all day. I suppose
it doesn’t matter what time I leave. I’m going to Portugalete, which
according to some route planners is about 20kms away, according to
another it’s a little over 10km. I don’t trust either of them, but
either way, it’s going to be a shorter day walking.
leave around 10.30. No one at the hostel really know where the Camino
trail joins up, they’re mildly retarded at best there- really fucking
useless spazes who know nothing about the town they’re in- I mentally
go back and really appreciate the guys who worked in Granada and
other such hostels. Know your city, that should be a requirement. And
the Camino is a pretty big deal, surely they should know something
about it. Fuck it. I walk out the door and follow the river which I
know heads north and west, the kinda sorta direction I want to be
going in. After about 3 minutes, I put on a jumper and my raincoat,
after another 10 minutes I take out my earbuds and bury my iPhone
deep in my bag, the rain is coming down quite convincingly. On the
upside, I find the path and so far it’s flat and it’s mostly pavement
so I motor along. In fact, I walk as fast as I can, the rain is
driving hard and the wind is kicking up. I’m waterproofed from the
waist up and I’m wearing shorts so basically my groin and thighs
become saturated. My lunchbox in particular is freezing. I wonder if
shrinkage of this magnitude can cause permanent damage. I am concave.
I walk under the awning of a shop front and eat a small
breakfast-type cake I took from the ‘spread’ this morning. There’s no
point stopping, there’s no point delaying, so I just carry on in the
rain. The moments when it’s just drizzle I am thankful for. I should
have waterproof trousers, gloves and a hat. I feet are soaked
through, but at least my shoes are being cleaned.
been going for about two hours, I pass by a train station. I stop and
take a look at the map they have. I’m pretty convinced that I’m very
close to where I need to be. I march on, the rain is lashing it down,
but it’s okay, I’m going to be somewhere soon and have a good days
rest. Buoyed, I start singing to myself, random stuff- I sing to
myself a lot, usually all the words are replaced by ‘motherfucker’
and ‘cuntface’ and are sung about various dogs that I want to kill
(yeah, it’s people). Now I’m singing Mr Bombastic and Seven Nation
Army and She’s Your Queen To Be from Coming to America as the rain
smashes me in the face and my cock disappears into a wormhole never
to be seen again- perhaps the future me will be able to see it in a
different dimension and I can send myself messages (that’s the whole
plot of Interstellar btw).
after serenading the suburbs I arrive at a bridge, only it’s not a
bridge, it’s a large steel structure that crosses a bridge fro which
hangs a huge cable car, big enough to transport 8-10 vehicles and
about 50 pedestrians. It’s pretty cool and allows for large ships and
tankers to pass through into the port upstream without having to
raise a bridge. I jump on, it’s 35 cents. Cool. On the other side,
I’m in Portugalete. That was quick- 14 or so kms. I find the tourist
office, the woman is very helpful and points out the four cheapest
places to stay. I go to the cheapest, 10 minutes away.
is a Pension. They’re like rooming houses on less terrifying than
they are in the Uk and North America. This one does look a bit like
the place that ‘Red’ stays in when he first gets out of Shawshank
though. I take a very long hot shower. The water pressure is insane
and the hot water is endless- I rape the environment of it’s
resources. I wash my clothes in the shower with me, it’s just what I
do now. These clothes will be burned in six weeks from now. I hang
and rotate my clothes on the electric heater that it tells you not to
hang clothes on. It always says this and I always defy the rules.
That’s how I roll.
around 2pm. I feel like a nap is a good idea. I sleep until 4.30.
It’s wonderful. Around six I pop out to grab some food, do some
groceries. I pop into a tiny shitty bar an have an excellent coffee
and watch the first half of the Elibar v Barcelona game. I’m up on La
Liga now, it’s on everywhere.
half time I wander down the street and pop into a similarly shit
looking bar. I’m hungry but all the have is a bunch of things on the
bar involving bread, ham, cheese, tortilla, the usual suspects. I
order a glass of wine and the lady brings me peanuts in their shells.
A chalkboard sign tells me that they have grilled shrimp available
Friday-Sunday. I order some. They are 3$. They are ridiculous and
there are twelve of the fuckers. Probably the best I’ve had. I order
some baby octopus too. Also delicious.
are a young couple next to me. They’re snacking. The woman asks me
what it is (the baby octopus) and so I explain. I ask if she lives
here. She says she does. Strange that she doesn’t know what this is,
I think. About fifteen minutes later she asks me where I’m from. I
tell her and she says, “Ohhh, hahaha, I’m from Manchester!”
lives here with her boyfriend. They’re quite lovely and their story
of how they met is enjoyable. I genuinely like them. We chat for and
hour in a mixture of English and Spanish- the boyfriend (he has a
completely unique Basque name that I can’t remember) is just learning
English. They make fun of each other a lot- when she speaks English
her accent is so thick and her expressions are so colloquial that he
can’t understand her, it’s nothing like that which he learns in his
classes. She keeps explaining how ‘backward’ Spain is- some of her
grievances are valid (dealing with the administration of government,
the lack of green vegetables available, roads, the internet) and
others not so much (you can’t get a skinny latte, things are closed
between 2 and 5).
leave and then she comes back and tells me to add her on Facebook. I
leave shortly after them and buys some fruit and carrots and nuts and
an assortment of sweeties. I roll back to the Pension where, the
‘internet’ access is once again laughable. It’s fine, it’s good, I’ll
read and write and rotate my socks and underwear on the electric
heater. Even on a day when I haven’t really walked much I have
clocked a total of 17kms. Tomorrow is going to be 30+ and it’s going
to rain all day. I didn’t get any waterproofs, maybe I’ll look
tomorrow before I roll out.
11.45. A little bit of reading and then of to sleep. I’m not looking
forward to tomorrow. Part of me want to just hunker down here, but
apparently the next town is really cool- it just happens to be an
8-10 hour walk away I expect.
Tea, bread, butter jam, Pineapple juice, tropical fruit juice, tiny
cake, bread/cheese, lots of peanuts, grilled shrimp, baby octopi,
bread, 160z red wine, cafe con leche, 4 litres of water.
Almost none. Groin is still a bit tight, calves likewise, but that’s
going to be the norm I think.