I’m here. At last. After a year’s dreaming, I’ve touched down on Spanish soil. Delighted is not the word.
I woke up at 5am after about 1 hours sleep, and made it to Dublin Airport. I was almost too early but it was good to meet other travellers on the same flight. I met a group of kids from Wexford with their teacher. The teacher was looking forward to getting going but commented that the lads were going to have a hard time (some were wearing jeans). On the plane, I was sitting beside a couple also going to walk the Camino, well a stretch like myself. Eventually we took off and the flight itself was fine but there was some low lying cloud as we came into Bilbao. It was very hard to see anything as I looked out the window and it was a little daunting for a minute or two. An ovation from the plane’s passengers showed how nervous we all were. But Bilbao is something else altogether. I’d move here in a heartbeat. Miles and miles of green over mountains, valleys and rivers. Some of the views were astounding. We were greeted by Basque signs and words that would win you major points in a game of scrabble. Castellean Spanish is not the official language here. The Guggenheim, Plaza Moyua, I wouldn’t mind coming here again for a weekend to get a closer look.
I met more Irish folks once I got off the flight. Again, they came to walk parts of the Camino. A couple and their daughter from Meath were starting from Puente la Reina and ending in Ponferrada. They would travel with me to the Termibus Station but jump on the Pamplona bus, which isn’t too far from Puente la Reina. I waved goodbye to the teacher and her class also as they had a bus pre-booked. I can only assume she is their Spanish teacher. They were starting in Belorado and finishing in Carrion de Los a Condes, 5 days in total. I wished her luck keeping an eye on her class of 20. I couldn’t do it anyway.
After catching the reliable Bizkaibus shortly after arriving, we reached Bilbao city centre close to 5.30. I knew my bus to Logrono was not leaving until 8pm but I didn’t mind the wait. I said goodbye to the family from Meath and looked for somewhere to eat. There was no shortage of shops and restaurants around the Termibus Station so I grabbed a quick snack and went back to waiting. I needed a few things for the next morning also as nothing would be open when I had planned to leave. It wasn’t long before I realised that I had left a few items behind, and I let out a long sigh. But I double-checked if I had all the essentials; tablets, money, tickets, phone..all there! Good stuff!
After a while, I jumped on the 8pm La Union Alvesa bus to Logrono. The language barrier made it difficult to understand the driver who snapped at his passengers on one or two occasions. Maybe he was having a bad day. We drove through sprawling countryside, the occasional river and into the region of La Rioja, famous for its wine. I’m spending the next few days here before I reach Palencia. Every field we passed had hundreds of vine trees, barely in their infancy. It’s a little too early to pick these grapes, maybe in August. I tried to ignore some of the towns I would be passing the next day, but I wasn’t having much luck.
In the end, I made it into Logrono just after 10pm Spanish time. It was getting dark and the city’s lights were on. I jumped in a taxi and had a decent conversation with the driver about the game which was on the radio at the time. That was easily the highlight of my day. I was happy to use some Spanish that I had learned over the last few months.
I found my hotel for the night soon after..the Pension Logrono. The owner was very courteous but had very limited English so it was a little funny trying to ask for the Wifi password. So now I need to catch a few hours sleep. I start my Camino tomorrow early and hope to reach Najera, 29km westwards. Hasta luego!!