Tag Archives: Santoña

Noja to Laredo

We had a good breakfast in Hostal Virginia, but as always that put us late. We did not leave until 9:30 and it was again hammering down.

We took the footpath that passes in front of the Hostal rather than the walk across the wet grass. The beach path however was flooded, there was just no avoiding it in these conditions. We followed the road behind the beach as far as the albergue where the GPS showed a path through to the road.

When we got there the gate was locked and it said something about submarines or submariners. So we were left with no alternative but to take the cliff walk. The rocky parts where we climbed up were treacherous and slippy with narrow parts where people who were going the right way were trying to pass. Over the other side it was mud. My boots got no purchase in the gloop and my poles were all but useless as the rubber ends just skidded across the top.

When we finally got down on the other side there was a downspout on the surf bar and we used it to wash off the mud. We sat outside the bar in the rain because we were made to feel most unwelcome. Whether it was the mud, the rain, or the fact that we were not surfers I don’t know, but we were glad to leave.

It was a long drag into Santoña past the prison and all the appartments. The ferry was almost empty, for our return trip. There were many pilgrims coming our way, but few people returning at this hour. It is another long drag of about 5k into Laredo so we stopped at a frozen yogurt stall. In this weather at least we did not have to queue. (looking on the bright side here, we were cold and wet, but no crowds).

I found our cheap hotel back and again I was wrong. I thought, it looks so bad from the outside that it would never get full. It was.

We found Pension Tucan across the road and it was only 45e. The patron told us it would be sunny tomorrow, but was unable to tell us if we could stay another night. Our missing Santander and the last couple of stops on the Primativo, means we are running ahead of schedule. We do not want to be staying a week in Bilbao so we need to delay.

The launderette was packed out. Many were in just to dry their clothes but we had to wait an hour for a machine. We waited in a bar opposite which was doing great trade on the back of the washing queues.

We found a Telepizza, the first we have come across so we went there later for food. A group of Germans were there obviously for the cheep beer. Unfortunately they had drunk it all and we had to have soft drinks with our pizza.

We finally got agreement we could stay another night so we had a lay in, in the morning. We found a bar under our hostal ( not as obvious as it sounds, as the entrance door is around the corner). It was still pouring down so we stayed for another coffee. There was a book ferria on the front so Viv bought herself a couple of books, in English 7e for two.

We took them back and finally caught our woman and paid for our stay. She said “mañana hace sol” I thought “I’ve heard that before” and we went out looking for frozen yogurt again. It seems in Spain, when the sun comes out, ice cream and frozen yogurt vendors go in. Our search failed.

We found a nice panaderia and bought a pizza thing and some mantxs. We thought it was a type of pasty but it turned out to be quite sweet. It was more like a flapjack than the meat thing we thought it would be.

We had a coffee by the beach and paid a premium for it. Still less than Chester prices though.

The bar where we had breakfast was serving food from seven, so we went back and had some platos combinados. Viv was not for having pizza again but it was nice to be so close and the golden beer, of course.


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Santoña to Guemes 22.8kilometers

We got up at seven and arrived at the bar by 7:30, should know better by now, nothing opens on time here. We could not wait all day so we had to forgo our breakfast.

We decided to walk past all the fishing fleet unloading instead of the approved route. We enjoyed seeing all the activity but got stuck. Asked some guy if there was a way out he said there was but not with the rucksacks.  So we had to squeeze out and heave our bags over the fence. Good start to the day.

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Next we set out across some marsh land and again nearly came unstuck. We had to vault some rifts in the ground where the water had taken the ground away. Still confident we reached the road, but here there was no way through to the beach. In the end we had to follow the road to the next roundabout and come back on ourselves. Still at the end of the day we did 1.5k less than the book said so I could not have taken us too far out of the way.

We found the markers again and turned left. We had a hard climb but emerged to see a beautiful beach and an even more beautiful beach that we had just missed. Mind they always look better from an elevated position.

We walked along the beech and arrived at a place called Noja. There was a great bar with sea views. It was still too wet to sit outside but they had a covered area where we enjoyed coffee and some pastries.

We passed the two German women in a field, they had stopped for a rest. We stopped for a while and chatted then we carried on.

It seemed a much longer day than the distance would have you believe and the last climb to Guemes was just too much. So we stopped in Parque del Pergrinos and finished our meager food supply. We saw many pilgrims pass and started to worry that we would have trouble finding room. We had past a hostel a while back but aside from this there would be nothing for another 12 k.

After yet another climb we arrived at the alburgue. We were greeted like long lost family offered water shown our rooms. It was just a little too over the top for us. Undoubtedly it was a magnificent place and the facilities second to non, it was just too in your face for us.

The two German ladies arrived as well and the smaller one was clearly having problems coping with the hospitality. She was not going to stay for dinner but went back into for some chips. There was obvious affection between these two but the strain was showing. They would be leaving us at Santander, but were unsure whether both would be going home.

John also re appeared and made his presence known. He had been wearing old socks, Viv had warned him, but now his feet were a mess. He spent half the evening bandaging them.

Viv was desperate for coffee. This was a donativo so there was nothing to buy, so we tried begging coffee off the Irish guy who had welcomed us. “The coffee is for breakfast so don’t tell the boss” he said. Next thing there was a queue behind us, well volunteers can’t really be sacked.

Before you can eat you have to listen to the talk. It was in Spanish with an Irish guy translating and for the French a young Belgian doctor did the business. She did it well, but she found instant translation hard going.

The food when it came was good and the wine free flowing. That would help me sleep Viv would not cope so well. There were a couple of snorers in our room and next door we had German folk singing. Nothing beats tiredness and alcohol though, I slept like a log.

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Castro Urdiales to Santoña 29.7kilometers

As we head out of town it seems to take an age to get to the turn off for the alburgue. (The official end of yesterdays stage). We did find a good café before we left town though, and stocked up on croissants and coffee. We have beautiful coastal views here for 8k until we arrive in Islares.Time to refill with coffee and a short rest before we carry on.

After this we are on road again until a fork in the road and we have another split in the route ahead. We decide to take the shorter route, it involves more road, but today is long enough. Finally we descend another load of steps down into Laredo.

We are surrounded by bars, it is difficult to decide which one to choose. We pick one that has a view of the camino and  a seat in the sun. I have a new favorite beer, it is called Selecta by San Miguel, of course.  As we sit here with our beer and pincho we are passed by dozens of fellow pilgrims. The two Swiss girls pass, they are not travelling on, they are stopping in the alburgue here.

Rested and refreshed we carried on  just a short walk to the ferry now. 5kilometers further on and still we have not reached it. We are tempted by the hotel at the end but then we see a line of cars and think this is it, but no. Eventually we come to a large circular area with cars parked and some bars. We see a sign for the ferry and we follow a boardwalk then we are on the beach.  It is only a foot ferry and it was about to leave. The engines stirred up the sand and we thought he was going to leave us there, but he was just moving the boat to make it easier for us to get on.

At the other side there was a tourist information point, but you guessed it, it was shut. Santoña is not a big place but we struggled to find a hostel. We found another information point “Open at 5:30” but it did not. So we continued our search. Then we came upon a Pension attached to a bar. “Lo siento es complet” he said “English?” “si” said I. “I have a friend who has a new pension, I can ring him for you” So we waited and enjoyed a free beer (The best kind). When the guy came we followed him through a maze of streets to our new home for two days. I always worry at this point as they are always reluctant to discuss the price. I need not have worried 35e including breakfast. It was a beautiful room, but unfortunately no balcony to dry our things.

We tried to find a launderette but it seems it was quite a way away still we could try tomorrow. Meanwhile our host was busy in reception, so I thought give it a try “Hay servicio lavanderia?”  “Si un bolsa 5e” that will do for me. We threw everything we weren’t wearing in a bag and took it to reception.

Next morning, as this is a rest day we got up at a civilized time and went around the corner for breakfast. The guy in the café was a nice guy but it was like pulling teeth getting anything off him. Everything was included but we had to ask for each item individually.  We checked the opening time for the morning 7:30 later than we would like but OK.

We walked down to the front and bumped into the Swiss girls again. The first ferry is at 9:00 but it was now well after ten, seems they are not early risers.

We spent the day exploring and looking out for pilgrims, though we saw no one else we knew  that day. The castle was well worth viewing, they had an exhibition on there but I was more interested in it’s strategic significance. It was the only place where Napoleons army was not defeated, and looking at its position and the amount of cannon, I was not surprised.

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