Day 104. Irun – Bilbao, 5 km.

My first night in Spain was noisy but eventually things got quiet. Breakfasts have been getting smaller and smaller the last couple of weeks, judging from this hotel they will continue to be even smaller.

Figure 1. Map day 104-111

I bike over to the station and buy my ticket, the man that sells the ticket writes down the details about how I have to change trains in San Sebastian. The elevator is to small so I have to roll down the stairs. Once on the platform I see that there is another way in to the station that doesn’t involve stairs.

It was really amazing to see how clean everything is in Spain or at least in the Basque country. When I crossed the border in to France it was like going to a trash dump, garbage, glass, plastic everywhere. Even in the country side there was some trash or plastic every 5 meters. Bordeaux and towards the south was a bit cleaner than the north.

But once I crossed the bridge to Spain everything was much cleaner and almost no garbage on the streets. The train is completely clean, almost like it’s just out of the factory. No graffiti or other damages.

The Euskotren is a nice commuter train, just roll the bike on and there is a nice place to park it. When exiting you just roll out the other door, no need to turn or lift the bike.

Figure 2. Euskotren

The first part of the train ride is to San Sebastian, looking through the windows it doesn’t look to hilly but the train goes on some bridges and through tunnels.

In San Sebastian the change is very easy, I have the instructions from Irun and find the train to Bilbao in a few seconds. It’s the same type of train, so easy to get on. This train is also very clean and looks new. The journey to Bilbao is through seriously hilly landscape, it’s very beautiful to watch through the window.

When we get closer to Bilbao there are some graffiti and garbage, but in general it’s less than in Stockholm.

In Bilbao a dog wants to greet me just as I roll through the barrier to get out of the station so the bike get stuck, the staff at the station has to come and open it manually to let my bike out.

I follow my GPX track through the old town and along the water towards the Airbnb apartment that I am staying in. I used google maps to create the track but something went wrong so I end up biking on pedestrian street but no-one seems to mind.

It is insane hot in Bilbao so I go and sit in a park next to the apartment to wait for check-in. Just as I arrived I get a SMS saying it’s ready for early check-in.

Park in Bilbao
Figure 3. Park in Bilbao

The apartment is 20 degrees colder than outside so I just stay there and rest, later I walk out and find a Chinese store that is open so I can buy water and bread.

Day 105. Bilbao – Bilbao, 0 km.

This was the first of three rest days in Bilbao. I slept very late and enjoyed a massive breakfast that I had in the fridge. After a slow start I go shopping food for the next days and then I find a laundromat.

I walk around the neighborhood and check things out, this seems to be a nice area.

The apartment
Figure 4. The apartment

I have lunch and go back to the apartment for some siesta. In the afternoon I walk back to the laundromat and do some washing.

Figure 5. Laundromat

While I am waiting for the washer to finish Jokin calls me and tells me that he is coming to Bilbao by car and we figure out where to meet.

After meeting him we walk around for a few hours in Bilbao, have a quick look in the old town. Go to the train station and find out that there are no trains to Miranda de Ebro that allows bikes.

Abando station
Figure 6. Abando station

We go to a bar to have some bocadillo for dinner and afterwards Jokin walks me back to my apartment.

Day 106. Bilbao – Bilbao, 0 km.

Sleep late and do almost nothing all day. I walk to Bilbo Bike and buy new water bottles as the ones I had are beyond cleaning. I do some research on the route south of Salamanca and it seems that I can ride along the Vía de la Plata which is one of many Camino de Santiago.

Figure 7. Bilbao

Day 107. Bilbao – Bilbao, 0 km.

Today is last day of rest in Bilbao. I do some more laundry and shopping. I also spend some time exchanging e-mails with the tourist office in Vitoria about a possible way out of Bilbao without going through the mountains. There is a commuter train to Orduña and from there it’s just one massive uphill to get on the meseta. This sounds better than spreading it out over 10-20 km so I decide to go for that.

In the evening I meet Ainoa and Jokin for a walk in Bilbao and we have dinner in old town.

Figure 8. Bilbao

Day 108. Bilbao – Vitoria-Gasteiz, 46 km

Time to leave Bilbao, I ride to the train station through the cool and clean Bilbao. The first possible train is at 09:45 so it’s a late start. I buy my ticket and the staff makes sure I get through the barriers and on to the right platform.

The station is very nice and I sit and wait for my train. I am going on line 3 which for some reason has a bit higher trains than the other lines. Maybe it’s because it’s going up the mountains. The train is super clean, it smells like it just had been hand scrubbed with soap. There is no garbage or graffiti.

Renfe train
Figure 9. Renfe train

Orduña is almost at 300 meters altitude so there is only 400 meters further up to Vitoria-Gasteiz. Most of that altitude is gained in one big crazy uphill with 8% grades and switchbacks. It’s almost one and half hours of biking to get up the hill, as the crow flies it might be 2-3 kilometers.

The only way is up
Figure 10. The only way is up
Figure 11. Finally

I continue towards Vitoria-Gasteiz, the roads are nice and quiet. The route was the one the Tourist Office suggested but they were unsure about a stretch of 500 meters along the N-622 but once I get there it turns out that bicycles are allowed.

It is incredibly hot today and the temperature on the handlebar goes over 40C. On my way in to the town I find a big shopping center with a McDonald so I stop for some ice cream.

Once I get to Vitoria-Gasteiz I am exhausted, the first hotel I find is a 5 star one so I get the next one.

Day 109. Vitoria – Briviesca, 81 km.

It’s a cool morning which feels great compared to yesterdays crazy heat. Vitoria-Gasteiz is a really nice town, the whole layout of the town is grandiose. There is plenty of space and streets are 20-30 meters wide.

wide streets
Figure 12. wide streets

I find some nice bike lanes out of town. The plan is to ride on or along the A-1 and then the N-1 road.

Service road
Figure 13. Service road

On a hill just outside Miranda de Ebro two MTB riders catch up with me and they tell me that there is a camino here as well. All I have to do is to follow the yellow arrows and they will take me to Burgos. This is the via de Bayona.

Yellow arrow
Figure 14. Yellow arrow

So for the rest of the day I switch between the camino and the back roads and riding the shoulder of N-1. The N-1 is big and wide and the shoulder is mostly 1 to 2 meters wide, but there is lots of traffic.

During the last 10 km in to Briviesca the headwind is increasing and becomes very strong. I visit the tourist information and they give me a map of the accommodation available, I try the nearest hotel and they have a cheap room and bike parking.

The next stop is Burgos, it’s a relatively big town so I book a hotel in advance. Also I have decided to take a rest day in Burgos and celebrate my birthday.

Day 110. Briviesca – Burgos, 49 km.

The day starts with rain, not great. The breakfast is served in the cafeteria in the hotel. The cafeteria is open to the public and it’s full of people when I enter at 07:30. There are some hunters that has leaned their guns against their table and there are some other people that drinks beer and brandy. Once I have eaten my two toasts with butter and marmalade I check out and start pedaling. The rain has turned the camino and the unsealed roads in to mud, the going in mud is very slow. Since it is raining most of the day I try to stay on the N-1 shoulder as much as possible.

Figure 15. Mud

Lately I have had a hard time finding any places that serves food when I want to eat, today is no exception but I find a cantina that serves some bocadillo and tortilla de patatas.

Figure 16. Cantina

By now I regret booking the room in Burgos, it rains and there is headwind. Also there are some high mountains that I end riding over on the camino.

Going up again
Figure 17. Going up again

While on the camino I ride through a wind park that is located at more than 1000 meters over sea level.

Figure 18. Mud

I struggle on and eventually I get to Burgos, I see a river that goes through town. I stop and wash the bike and the bags. Everything is so dirty.

Almost clean
Figure 19. Almost clean

I find the hotel and it’s nice and all but the bastards wants 6 Euro/day to park the bike in their garage.

Expensive parking
Figure 20. Expensive parking

I hurry out to shop at the supermarket since tomorrow is Sunday and everything is closed. Sleep comes quick and early.

Day 111. Burgos – Burgos, 0 km.

I sleep late and eat breakfast in the room. Yesterday I bought some bread that is not full of sugar and has fibers, imagine how great that tastes for breakfast. I take a walk around town, there is an attempt to make the worlds longest sausage, “la morcilla más larga del mundo”, if I understand it correctly they manage to make a sausage that is just a bit more than 187 meters long.

Sausage machine
Figure 21. Sausage machine

There is also some kind of marathon going on, so the town is full of activity. Since coming to Spain I have been completely out of sync with when eateries are open. Breakfast can be early but is normally useless and full of sugar. Lunch is very late 13-16 and dinner before 21 seems to get harder and harder. I have an early dinner disguised as a late lunch.