Camino de Santiago | Vietnam & Angkor Wat

Back to the Coast

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.

Castro Urdiales beach caves

The hike to Castro Urdiales

The video starts about a half hour into our hike. Somebody forgot to start tracking our route. Oops.

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  1. Kem

    Beautiful coast and beach. Loved the caves!

  2. Debra Mowery

    Exploring and enjoying the beach – always the best choice ever!

    So jealous but so thrilled you guys are having this great adventure together!

  3. Laurel Friedman

    Gorgeous views here. Where do the people who are turned away go in a small town?

    • Sharon and Barry

      Good question. Often it means having to continue walking, hoping to find something in the next town. In this case, one person who didn’t make the cut was carrying a all tent and was allowed to place it on the ground and use the restroom, sinks and showers. In addition, there was a campground nearby where you could rent equipment. Castro Urdiales is a large enough town where there are several hotels, but all would cost considerably more and would require a walk of a mile or more back into town.

    • Jordan Jones

      Hi Laurel, this is Amelia’s friend Jordan! This exact situation happened to my wife and I and we ended up camping out on beautiful mountain/hill just outside of the town we we’re supposed to stay at. Not having a bed to sleep in really stressed us out at the time but it turned out to be one of our fondest memories. We shared a bottle of wine with friends, sung pop songs, watched an amazing sunset and slept under the stars!

      • Laurel Friedman

        Jordan, that sounds DIVINE!

  4. Alice Skipper

    Sharon and Barry! It is the highlight of opening my email in the morning to read what you are doing and where you have been. Truly, you guys are amazing! Thank you for sharing your journey!
    Con Amor, Alice

  5. Bump Galletta

    Really love following along! I hope you are having a wonderful time!

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