After several days inland, we walked to the ocean on Sunday. Our day began with a drizzle in Bilbao and ended with rain in Pobeña. But the beach!
On the advice of several pilgrims, we decided to avoid walking the industrial parts of Bilbao as we left the city by taking the Metro about eight stops to Portugalete. The subway stop placed us directly on the Camino, making it easy to walk from there.
By 1 p.m., there were sea birds overhead, and we could smell the ocean. Soon after, we were having coffee at a cafe on the beach in La Arena, the perfect place to take refuge from a heavy rain storm. This was decision time: continue walking to Castro Urdiales in the rain or stay at the albergue in Pobeña and walk in the morning.
The hike to Pobeña
Beach between La Arena and Pobeña
Pobeña was a lovely little village, and the donativo albergue offered a perfect night’s stay. This gave us time to explore the beach and begin our walk to Castro Urdiales in clearer weather the next day. Plus we enjoyed hanging with people we’ve been with on and off for several days.
In the morning, we were hiking the coastline, and at some time shortly after we began, we passed from Basque country to Cantabria.
The hike to Castro Urdiales
Castro Urdiales is built along the Cantabrian coast. We entered the city after hiking along the coast and walked west along the waterfront. By the time we arrived at Albergue de Peregrinos de Castro Urdiales, there were pilgrims gathered on the lawn waiting for it to open at 3 p.m.
With only 16 beds, we counted heads as we arrived and determined there was room for us. By the time it opened, there were more than 16, and several people were turned away. We were among the lucky few.
The albergue was tight quarters and not an optimal stay. But we were close to the beach and really enjoyed our time there.
And we had a spectacular dinner in the Playa Cafe, a tiny local restaurant where we were the only tourists. We ordered two of the Platos Combinados #4 – Huevos, Jamón, potatas, y pimientos (sin jamón), shared the Ensalada Playa, and some wine. It was so delicious – fresh food perfectly prepared.