When we finished our Camino we still had a few days before we flew home from Barcelona. After much deliberation, we decided that we would retrace the Camino and picked out Astorga and Pamplona to revisit, and also a toss up between Bilbao or San Sebastian. After checking train timetables and options, San Sebastian got the nod. See the header taken from the fort in San Sebastian. But first things first. I found some workers doing a shop front in Santiago and asked them if they we happy to cut my walking pole in half (so that I could pack it for the trip home) Finally a trip back to the Cathedral and some shopping.
The train to Astorga was started quite uneventful. But it was very smooth travel way up high in the mountains. The engine was changed a few times from front to back etc. We always stress a bit when we get off to know where we go from there, But as we were walking along the platform, we were approached by two National policeman who wanted to check our passports. I guess they were not sure of pilgrims going "backwards". After, we walked back to our hotel which we stayed at some 16 days ago. the difference was amazing, hardly a pilgrim in sight. The hotel also was pretty quiet and just getting ready for the upcoming ski season. So once settled we had dinner and then an ice-cream and chocolate fix. Afterwards it was that rest you have when you know you are not walking tomorrow.
Today was a nice easy day and we got out to see the Cathedral, museum and Gaudi's Bishops palace. They were all pretty amazing and you really need a few hours to do them all justice. Back to the plaza for a late lunch and spoke with an Irish guy who was still walking and enjoying the solitude. Then it was just a sit back in the plaza for a few hours until dinner etc. It was a great day. We also got to see that the fountain that was being repaired when we went through, was still being repaired..
The Gaudi Bishops Palace
We had an easy morning, breakfast then off to see the Museo Romano. Bought a few chocolate gifts and then it was time for the train. It was 6 plus hours but very pleasant as we pretty much followed the Camino back and touching on Burgos and a few other Camino towns. We arrive a little after 9pm and caught a taxi to our hostel - the Hotel Bahia. Checked in and then went out for a walk and dinner. No 2 train journey completo.
It was now Friday and it was out for the day. Had pinchos and sangria and visited the old town. Went to both beaches. the harbor and city is very different from what we have experience in Spain so far. Saw a few sand artists and plenty of dogs playing on the beach. Dogs mostly have a great life in Spain.
We were up early , too early for the red bus, So it was off for a walk along part of the esplanade we had not seen. Then it was back to catch the bus and listen to the audio tour of the town and its history. We had lunch at this restaurant that we had noticed earlier. but we were finding a lot of the places were closing for the winter, so we approached this venue (there were no patrons) and asked if they were still open. They were and we sat down to an (expensive but delicious) tray of sea food. It was terrific and we had a bottle of Sangria to go with it. We established that our waiter was Australian and came from Townsville where he met and married this lass , who turned out had a family that lived in San Sebastian and owned the restaurant. It was a great lunch when his wife, the daughter, came out and chatted. Then it was Dads turn. By then however, we noticed that the place was full and a wait list had set up. So we bid our farewells and headed back into the old town. Being a Saturday the esplanade and beach was going off. there was a game of beach soccer and it was invigorating to take it all in. We also visited the Koncha Beach which was the surf beach and was basically created when they dredged the river. Alas it was too cold for me and too big- some 8 foot sets were rampaging in.
Sunday. We are heading off to Pamplona this afternoon. But first it was a climb up Mt Urgull and the fort. What this place has seen over the centuries. After a tour of the fort we headed back to the old city then on to Zurriola Beach for lunch and to say good bye. Our Spanish escapade is nearing complete. We headed back to the hostal, collected our bags and headed off to the train station. After a one hour 40 minute train trip we were back in Pamplona after some 40 days. This time however we were in the Hotel Avenida.
Monday 27th October. We walked Pamplona from one end to the other The Cathedral was amazing and the time walk in the Museum was just amazing. As you walk over the excavations, you get displays and audio of the point in history you are at. It was spellbinding. We got a stamp there and then headed over to the Citadel. After walking over this we headed back to the bull ring. What a full day.
The Bull Ring
Tuesday morning and it was up early and off to the train. Only problem (and our first) was that the train was cancelled. RENFE however organised a bus to ferry us all to Zaragoza and then on to a VFT to Barcelona. We arrive there only 1 hour later than originally planned. top marks to RENFE..
Wednesday our last day. We were up early and walked down to the port and then off to the Ramblas. Had a few drinks and lunch and then taxi back the hotel and then off to the airport.