As I said, I had a rough night. What made things worse was that there was no other person in the hostel except of the German man in my room, who did not speak any Spanish or English – and thus, wasn’t of great help to communicate with the outside world. I wasn’t quite sure how much worse it would get, so I contacted my brother in the US who speaks Spanish and asked him to keep his phone on just in case I might have needed medical assistance – yes, it was that bad. I had actually promised myself to make videos in bad situations but hey, perhaps this time it was better for me and my readers that I did not 🙂 However, when I managed to sleep at some point, I did actually sleep quite well. Eating breakfast the next day was a bit tricky though, but I forced down some plain baguette.
As I only had to walk a rather short distance that day, I walked slowly and took frequent breaks.
After around 4 hours I reached a little village on the outskirts of Bilbao. I had just sat down on a wall to take a short break when I heard someone giggling. I turned around and saw the American girls who were sitting outside a tapas bar having an afternoon beer. We had a little chat and the girls decided to take the bus back to Bilbao, because the next 20 km would be mainly walking on concrete through suburbia. It did sound tempting to just take the bus back and have one more day in Bilbao before heading back to Germany, especially as I was still feeling under the weather. However, I wanted to stick to my initial plan and walk all the way back to Bilbao and not give up before. So, I said goodbye to the girls and soldiered on. The next few kilometres I did walk a lot on concrete and to be honest I did question my earlier decision not to join the girls. When I got to my initial destination for the day, Lezama, I found out that the hostel was shut. That is where it started getting complicated. I asked a few people whether there was a hotel/hostel in town and yes, you can already imagine what happened. What I did find out is that there was such a place, but I just did not manage to find it, although I am sure the directions given to me by various people were really useful -but they were in Spanish. I did however find a note on a lamppost, advertising a hostel in ENGLISH. I called that hostel and hey, the girl who answered the phone spoke English – well, Spinglish, I guess. Yay! When I asked her for directions she told me she had no idea and I should ask some people on the street. GREAT!! So, after asking another 5 more people, calling her 3 more times and taking the train for 2 stops I finally found the place.
The hostel was located in a massive building which did not look like a place for a hostel at all! Additionally, I saw quite a few people in business clothes and I was getting really worried about the price of the room. By that time I was so tired though, that I would have probably paid almost everything they asked me for. When I stepped into the building with my filthy clothes I spotted a rather fancy looking hotel reception desk and I was getting really worried. To my relief, the receptionist told me that this was the hotel and the hostel would be on the second floor. After climbing up the stairs I was immediately greeted by the girl I had spoken to on the phone. It turned out that this was a student hall of residence and a hostel. It was huge but there were hardly any students. I was so happy when the girl asked whether I wanted to have a single room for a surcharge of 5 EURo. YES, PLEASE!! That night I did not even manage to take a shower. I passed out immediately, woke up after 4 hours, found a vending machine in the corridor, had dinner and slept again for another 9 hours.
The next morning me and my stomach felt much better. I had breakfast with some local students before taking the train back to where I had left the trail. It was only a 13 km walk into Bilbao.
The trail lead through the old town and the new district of Bilbao. It was Saturday and after spending a week in the countryside pretty much all by myself, being surrounded by thousands of people was somewhat overwhelming. However, there were also some magical things happening. When I walked past a church I witnessed a really cool wedding ceremony.
I reached the hostel at around 2:30 pm and although my initial plan was to explore Bilbao I did not get very far, because it started to rain – heavily. Oh, well….
And that was the end of my little adventure. In conclusion what can I say about my trip? Well, I guess it was a bit like real life. I had some amazing ups where I thought I was on top of the world and I loved every second of it. And I also had some downs, where I would have rather been in another place or even in another body. Walking and carrying all your belongings on your back is very liberating. Nature, I always find, is one of the greatest healers there is. It doesn’t ask questions, it doesn’t give you any advice. It doesn’t blame you for anything. It is an attentive listener, a good mediator who gently guides you back on the right path – even if you get lost sometimes. I hope I can come back one day and walk the remaining 650 km to Santiago 🙂