And then I finally boarded the plane which brought me from Frankfurt to Munich (where I had just enough time for a beer) and then onto Bilbao.
I arrived quite late and was immediately confronted with the language barrier which would challenge me again and again over the coming week. I managed to locate the bus which brought me into the city centre. The bus driver was definitely used to foreigners and even understood my attempt of pronouncing ‘termibus’ (should I pronounce bus rather the German way, the English way or the French way?)
The hostel was close to the bus station which made it possible for me to locate it more or less easily. It felt like a little sanctuary because there people actually understood what I wanted. I stayed in a 12 bed dorm. Oh, the fun of dormitories… I had almost forgotten about it.You can be sure that in your room there is ALWAYS someone out partying and there is ALWAYS someone who has to get up at 5am to catch a plane. There is ALWAYS someone who puts every sock in a plastic bag, someone who has an overactive bladder and someone who snores…
Sharing the room with me were 2 German girls who were also planning on walking the Camino – however, they would start in Bilbao and walk all the way to Santiago. There were also some Korean girls who (as far as I understood) just finished walking the Camino frances and as a proof showed me their feet… uhmmm…
The next morning I set my alarm for 7:30am but after a night of sleep deprivation and shocking weather outside (rain and freezing cold) I decided to go back to bed and start walking the next day. I used the time to visit the Guggenheim museum – definitely worth checking out – and exploring Bilbao.
At 630pm I took the bus to Irun. The trip took around 1,5 hours and apart from the girl sneezing and coughing next to me (did I mention how worried I was about getting ill before the trek?!) it was a rather pleasant bus ride. Most people got off in St. Sebastian and I was one of the only ones who got off in Irun. The bus dropped me off at what looked like the middle of nowhere and I had no idea how to find the only hostel in town. The other few people who had gotten off the bus with me were disappearing quickly so I had to hurry. I approached someone and the conversation sounded like this: me:’Hola, perdon’ – showing them my phone with a screen short of google maps. They looked at it, zoomed in and zoomed out and had a long discussion about where it could be. Then they tried to explain to me how to get there but were faced with a blank expression on my face. This went on for about 5 minutes until they gave up and asked me to follow them. They put me in their car and 10 minutes later I was at the hostel. Fantastic! I am so often surprised by the kindness of other people. That makes me think of the following quote: ‘A stranger is a friend you haven’t met’!
In the hostel there were already 3 other pilgrims who would also start the trek the next morning, which felt somehow comforting. A Hungarian and 2 German men. We were put in another 12 bed dorm and although this time there were only 3 other people in the room with me, I was up for another sleepless night. The Hungarian had already declared to me before: Don’t wake me up when I snore. I always snore and it will not help to wake me up. Great!