Pobeña to Portugalete and then Bilbao

True to her word, Viv never stirred until 7:30, by then almost everyone had left, Ed Sheeran was playing on the radio and the hospitalerio was brushing up.

As we walked through Pobeña we were met by a German from the albergue. When we had crossed from La Arena the first time it was hard to see the way to the albergue, but easy to see the stairs out. Now from the albergue it was hard to see the stairs. We directed her to the stairs and told her to ignore the no entry signs. I am still not sure if she understood about the closed path though.

Now it was past eight so bars were now open. We stopped for coffee toast and juice, how all days should start. While we were there we saw a guy struggling to get off his bike and ask someone for directions. When I watched he remount his bike, I realised he had only one leg and marvelled at his bravery. To do this is hard for everyone, but on a bike with only one leg. He has my absolute admiration. I just hope that the guy who gave him directions knew a way that avoided the 180 steps the other side of the beach.

I know this route quite well now, but still struggled on the first part. The path off to the right was not in the right direction, but was the way to go. Then there were some big loops to avoid by taking short cuts. This was, after all, a cycle way. At the highest point was a cross roads and we had to wait for pilgrims to see which way to go. I remembered the shortcut through the houses however, but the bench where we had rested was now occupied.

As we got nearer to Ortuella I worried that we would not find the turn off. This was an alternative route where we could find coffee. In the end we stumbled on it quite by accident and enjoyed a good break. Then our troubles started, I tried back following the arrows and ended up behind some garages. A local could not help as he only knew the way in a car. We came into a dead end street that backed onto the autopista. The next one to give us directions, we thought was directing us to Santiago, but he said both ways we need to go that way. After negotiating a coupe of roundabouts we came at the top of the cycleway, where the bridge crosses the autopista. Now we knew where we were.

It was quite straightforward from here into Portugalete, once over the bridge we just followed the road into town. We stopped off at a café once there. I had seen someone drinking coffee with ice in it, so I thought I would give it a try “Dos café con leche co hielo” I tried, and it worked. I got two coffees and two glasses with ice in them.  I have not had sugar in beverages for 39 years but this, I felt, called for it. They were just like the cold coffees we had from the supermarkets.

I had no intention of going through all that industrialised area again or getting tangled up in the road system, so from here it’s the underground. I needed some help, so asked at the ticket office. The lady there just showed us how to use the machine. Then the trip into town was a doddle.

In the town, the tourist info was again as much use as a chocolate fire guard. So we just wandered and found a pension with shared bathroom at 45e.

There was a convenient bar at the end of the street we got two beers and some pork scratching’s, I asked what they were called “Tourino” she said. When I told here what we called them she said “madre mia”. I have no idea why she found it shocking. They were massive and incredibly tasty I am not even certain they were pork.

Around the corner was an Indian restaurant. We sat in the bar opposite for the 19:30opening time. At 25 past seven the shutters went up and we walked over. “Es cerado” the guy said, so I said “Que hora abierto” “half eight” was the reply in English. Back to the bar opposite for a burger then. Good choice actually, the food in here was excellent, so was the beer and it was cheep to boot.



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