Camino Norte, day 8, Gernika to Bilbao

We left Gernika and headed up a hill in light rain. The hill was covered in eucalyptus forest, with sections of clear cut. We topped out finally, and found ourselves on a paved road with a few residences on the road. One was a hippie run albergue, and we stopped in for a nestea and some pastries. As we snacked, a taxi pulled up and let out a customer. On the spur of the moment, and because it was raining, I asked if he wanted to take us to the next town.

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That was pretty easy, and we got a ride to the next town. There we got a bus to the Next town, Bilbao. We had decided we were not going to walk through urban areas and in the rain, so we headed for our reservation for the night in Bilbao.

How we made reservations: When planning for the Camino, you can’t or shouldn’t book reservations very far in advance, because you can’t know where you will be more than 1 day ahead. You might have blisters that need some rest, your walking partner might have those blisters, you might find yourself exhausted, you might find that you committed to walking 30 km per day, but your body can only do 10 km. What we did was book for the next day, based on how far we thought we could walk, what towns were at that distance, and what lodgings were available. We used booking.com or airbnb to find lodging, and they were usually around 100 euros for a room with 2 beds. Laura was an expert at this method.

We got to the bus station in Bilbao, and took a taxi to our place, a remodeled apartment on the old town (narrow streets, 3-4 story buildings) The apartment was nice, the neighborhood was seedy.

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We took showers, got on dry clothes, and about 10 pm we headed out to look for food. The sidewalk was downhill, and just wide enough for the two of us. We became aware of being followed by two guys. They were drunk, and one of them said “Ingles, Ingles”. I wasn’t about to stop for a chat, so we kept walking, with Laura a step ahead of me. Our follower again said “Ingles..”, and put a hand on my shoulder. This guy had no idea how many times I had seen the movies “Taken”, “Rack Reacher”, and “IP Man”. I stopped, turned around and put my hand out at sternum height, and braced myself. The guy walked right into my stiffened arm, which stopped him in his tracks. The two were surprised, and turned away and left us alone. We had a half block to go before we got to a well lit and busy street along side the river. Laura thought she was going to have to defend her aged Dad, but instead I gained a bunch of street cred in her eyes. We were both glad nothing came of the encounter.

We settled on some pizza, ate that and headed home at 11 pm.

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