10-12 October, 2014
Terravision bus from Stratford to London Stansted at 06:45. Bus was not on time. I’ll use National Express next time.
Breakfast at London Stansted. Quite a lot of works going on a the airport and a lot of shops were closed. Our exit seats came with speedy boarding and that is always welcome. I keep forgetting how strict easyjet is with their 1-bag policy, I hardly had enough space in my backpack to accommodate my extra small bag and was arguing with the staff if we could use our extra baggage allowance.
2 hours in the air and we arrived in Bilbao and the Basque country. Was planning to settle our bags in Bakio and taxi back to Bilbao for the afternoon. But we got lazy.
Lunch (more of a repast) was fresh-baked bread, iberico ham, tomato salad with red onions and some kind of mayonnaise dressing on top, a glass of white wine and another complimentary glass from the hotel. simple delicious meal and probably the best I have tasted in Spain so far.
Hotel Arimune is a charming, old hotel (and in need of a bit of maintenance) overlooking the beach of Bakio. This beach is a surfer’s paradise. Locals would come down from their apartments in wetsuits, a surfing board in hand and stroll down to the beach. The house is made of stone and is adorned with lots of antique items, creaky floors and quaint furniture. we were probably the first guests for the weekend. save for the dampness in the room, it would have been perfect enough for a weekend getaway.
In this small town, away from the city, it was very laid back and peaceful.
We folded our jeans and walked on the beach. Stared out into the sea whilst our feet got drenched in cold water. The tide was coming in, Al soon lost one of his slippers, but found it again as it washed back ashore. Soon after that, the tide came back much stronger, and we got drenched. The waves were strong – note to self: do not wear a 2-piece in this kind of beach, the one lady brave enough to swim in the cold waters alternately loses her bikini bottom and top each time she tries to get ashore. also not sure if the old man running naked into the rocks to get dressed actually lost his trunks or just went skinny dipping.
We changed clothes and went out again searching for a grocery store. We settled to read by one of the monuments overlooking the breakwaters with san miguel beer in hand. When it looks like rain might threaten we retreated back to our hotel’s terrace overlooking the beach.
Dinner at the hotel is not till 9:00pm. So we roamed the neighbourhood and found a local bar with a spattering of locals and their families out for the evening paseo. Pointing at a couple of pintxos and a small glass of vino tinto we found a table outside to settle into. It was soon becoming a bit awkward for us, as we quickly realised we were unicorns, and people just keep staring. Back at the hotel restaurant, we got a fancier 3-course evening meal. Maybe because it’s low season, part of the restaurant overlooks the beach and the tables there are wonderfully set, but the customers were seated in the front garden or the bare tables overlooking the kitchen counters. But the food was lovely anyway, so i quickly forget my grievances.
Saturday. Started off with breakfast at the hotel at 9am. Cold meat, muffins and coffee.
We walked from for more than 1 hour from Bakio to Eneperi. Paved roads, no sidewalks in parts, and mostly uphill. It’s a scenic walk, we gazed back to Bakio and the sea, pine needles litter the sides of the street, and humongous slugs trying to cross the street.
We took a break at Eneperi – a big restaurant serving pintxos and drinks. It gets busier later in the day. The front tables and bar area gets crowded, whilst the formal dining areas remains closed. But there’s a bigger, open area out in the back (which has its own counter). There’s toilets, too (but expect to queue).
Follow the signs from the carpark to a steep, but paved road. It gets trickier as the paved road changed to a still steep and rough, muddy path down to the base of Gaztelugatxe. We were in hiking boots as we walked from Bakio. But I’ve seen a few women in wedges and heeled sandals.
It’s practically a station of the cross on the way up. Gaztelugatxe is a hermitage. A steady stream of people make their way up here, and from the bottom of the stairs, it’s not exactly a very demanding climb up as long as you stop every now and then to enjoy the view.
We had more drinks and pintxos at Eneperi on the way back and walked back again to Bakio, much quicker this time as it’s downhill now. Lunch was a whole turbot at Gotzon Jatetxea. They speak english here and your menu comes with pictures so you can identify the fish they serve. We finally had a taste of locally grown (Bakio) wine – and it was wonderful! Their only fault, the bread was the typical hard bread we get during our Camino – my gums will recede if i eat it.
Slept thru the afternoon and skipped dinner.
Sunday. time to leave. And because we had been too tired the previous day, we did not arrange how to get to the airport. at 7:30am, we practically roused the non-english speaking caretaker from sleep. We waited for the receptionist to come in (it was almost 9 and our flight is at 10:30). It was hard to get a taxi from here, as a few I rang don’t have any available in such short notice (surprisingly, i conversed with spanish keywords and got understood). Hotel did manage to get us a taxi, and our flight was delayed by 30mins anyway, so we got to our flight in time.