June 5, 2006: San Sebastian to Zarauz 35,128 steps!!
After a nice breakfast at the hotel, the group left instructions with the hotel how and where to send the duffel bags -- this time everyone decided to lighten the load, not just the experience ones-- and set out to find the Camino markers. San Sebastian is a large prosperous city with many beautiful old homes and buildings. Winding through the area gave us a small bird's eye view of what the city was all about. "Eagle Scout" Jan lead the way to THE arrow and off we were up a pathway pass a small park and church. The path never eased as we climbed higher and higher out of the city. Winding pass vineyards on either side that clung to the side of hill, the route began to disintegrate from paved to cobblestone to dirt road to foot path through one farm after another. Sometimes the way was blocked by locked gates that had a step stool along side for the pilgrim to climb over. For a long legged person with no pack - not a difficult thing to do. For a short legged "sample of a person" with pack -- very difficult and challenging. This pilgrim was determined not to be left behind suspended from a barb wire fence in the middle of nowhere, so applied all laws of physics to achieve this test of the Camino!!!
About half way through the day's walk we came across a roadside stand set along side the road specifically for the pilgrims. A hand written sign invited the passerby to take some water, sign the guest registry and stamp your credentials before continuing on up the road. The Spaniards take the route or Camino de Santiago very seriously and try to help those in need. No one was near this offer of help, but the feeling of generosity was present.
For three quarters of the day the route climbed higher and higher up the hillsides with beautiful views to the right of the sea far below and to the left the patch worked mountain sides of vineyards. It gave the impression of a quilt laid gently across the countryside comforting the slopes as they gently dipped to the sea. As lunch time approached so did the village of Orio, a medieval city surrounded by its original wall tucked in-between two major hills. Descending with tired hot feet is very hard and add to it rotation of the ankle from left to right to back to forward as the foot rolls over the old cobblestones and the pain is won out only by the hunger and the promise of a good meal a feet hundred meters below.
For 8 euros each we settled into a wonderful "daily menu" set price meal. The proprietors took pity on us after we announced two cokes per person fast!! Lunch was served outside in front -- with smiles on all of our faces as the boots came off and the liquids arrived. Nothing like a nice cold Coke after a dusty trail.
The decision was made to relax and enjoy the time spent. We only had 6 more kilometers to go and the terrain was not suppose to be too difficult after we ascended the last major uprising in the foreground. True to form, however, the first couple of miles after lunch were no exactly a piece of cake, but we were energized now and attacked the road with gusto. Just outside Zarauz as we started to descend toward the valley below a friendly face appeared coming up -- much to the delight and surprise by all, there stood Frankie welcoming us to the last few kilometers into town. How did she get there out in front of us? Angela and Frankie had reviewed the route in the morning and had decided that Angela needed to work up to a full day's walk, so had made plans to take a taxi to the town where we had lunch and walk from there. That put them several hours ahead of us, but also gave them a chance to relax on the walk and not worry about exhaustion. What a smart idea -- this way all of us at the end of the day are tired, but happy!!!
The evening was spent at the hotel with lights out and tired bodies hitting the sack with a thud!
Jan & Nancy on the Camino