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Bad Pilgrim on the Vasco, July 2019

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Coucou,

I walked the Camino Vasco del Interior (The Tunnel Route) during seven days in July. Here is a summary... Hopefully someone can use the practical info. I let my cellphone rest, so no pictures were taken this time!

Day 0: Bus to Irún. Prices for accommodation were crazy. I could have gone to the albergue, but it was late in the evening. I imagined it would be stuffed with pilgrims by then, but I never checked. (I had tried to phone them the day before, but they didn't answer.) I ended up in Pensión Lizaso for 60 euros (!). No time for sightseeing in Irún. I went for a walk around the busy street, then I had to go to sleep.

Day 1: Irun - Andoain. Hard stage. The hike up to the ermita almost killed me. Stunning views of San Sebastián and the coastline from above. A blend between paths and tarmac, I would say 50/50? There is an albergue before Andoain, but I pushed on. There is a horrible slog through the industrial suburbs to get to Andoain. Albergue: donativo. We were 4 pilgrims, but two were bicigrinos and one was walking in the opposite direction. So we wouldn't meet again. Andoain is a nice little town with a lively plaza next to the church. Supermercado close to the albergue.

Day 2: Andoain - Beasain. 100% asphalt, in industrial suburbs or on a bicycle track. Small towns that merge into each other along the way. I stopped in every other café that popped up so it took me forever to arrive in Beasain. Albergue: donativo. Clean, cozy. The upper floor was occupied by athletes running an ultramarathon (more than 24h in a row), but the second dormitory was reserved for pilgrims. There were 3 of us: me, and two guys who started in Beasain. We didn't hear the sports(wo)men on the upper floor, as they were running all night long and didn't use the albergue at all!

Day 3: Beasain - Salvatierra. This is actually two stages, but I am glad I walked both the same day. The second half includes the March of Death up to the Tunnel of San Adrián. But it would have been worse to take on San Adrián in the morning at the beginning of a separate stage. I would have cried of tiredness all the way up the mountain. It was much easier to take it on when I was already up and running from Beasain. There's water halfway up: one of those rusty bathtubs that a farmer throws out for the animals to slurp from. But the tube where the water came pouring from looked fine. I drank and I am still alive. There were a lot of bicycles and walkers near the Tunnel so it never felt isolated. But everyone was coming from the other direction...! Salvatierra: I was heading for the albergue, but I walked into the first café I saw and that was the Restaurante José Mari. I asked how much for a room: 19 euros. Finally normal hostal prices after greedy Irún!!! I couldn't resist. Laundromat across the street! The most beautiful stage on the Vasco.

Day 4: Salvatierra - Vitoria Gasteiz. Pensión Araba, 40 euros. Expensive, but a Canadian pilgrim in Andoain had warned me about the albergue in Vitoria Gasteiz being occupied by the youth organization SMNU (Spanish Minors in Need of Upbringing). Laundromats! And a long walk in the evening through the center of Vitoria Gasteiz, a little hamlet of 200.000 inhabitants which has a lot to offer.

Day 5: Vitoria Gasteiz - Puebla de Argonzón. A short stage but there was no way to hook up with another town to stay. Pensión Pili, 20 euros. 20 euros is too much for a room that looks like a dirty storage room, but it was ok after all. On the way I caught up with three Spanish pilgrims, who didn't seem too interested in me and who didn't even say Hello, and in Puebla I spotted another large group of pilgrims in a bar. It must have been full house at the albergue, so I was happy with a cramped but silent room at the Pensión Pili.

Day 6: Puebla de Argonzón - Haro. Pensión Peña, 20 euros, because the Canadian pilgrim had recommended it to me. Slightly better than the day before, in Puebla, but still very basic. Laundromat! Haro is a pretty town with about 1000 possibilities of tasting wine in one of the bodegas, since it is "The capital of (the wine) Rioja".

Day 7: Haro - Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Pensión Miguel, 22 euros, luxury. Looks like a hotel room. Laundromat in town! There are pellygrims everywhere. There is no question where the Vasco meets the Francés. When I made a turn around a corner, to enter the main street of Santo Domingo, I suddenly found myself on an assembly line of pilgrims who were moving into town. It's nice to see a lot of pilgrims having a good time, cheering up the streets and the cafés with their mere presence - and with occasional singing, from what I could hear! But too bad some people think that English is the official language in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. I spotted one sign with info about a bar/restaurant in English only, and outside a hipster guy who made the mistake of starting a conversation with me in English. Did I sign up for an English immersion program? Apparently, the Francés is not for me. Better jump on a bus to start the Camino de Invierno from Ponferrada...!

The Vasco Verdict: Every stage was incredibly beautiful (except the second one), the signage is perfect (I didn't loose my way once) and it is not as solitary as, for example, the Sureste or the Lana. You see people now and then, either in the albergues or on the Camino. The guides often list 8 stages, but 7 was perfect for me. There may be a risk of me repeating this Camino in a near future!

/Bad Pilgrim
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
There may be a risk of me repeating this Camino in a near future!
Nice, wasn't it?
Next time take the right turn that goes to Burgos. Very nice!!
But it would have been worse to take on San Adrián in the morning at the beginning of a separate stage.
:eek: Really?
Going up there in the afternoon would be torture. And for most of us that would be an impossible stage for one day. I can't imagine it. Distances are one thing, but that's a serious hill.

Baaad Pilgrim.
;) ;) ;)
(Seriousy - Well done! What's your next camino?)
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Nice, wasn't it?
Next time take the right turn that goes to Burgos. Very nice!!
:eek: Really?
Going up there in the afternoon would be torture. And for most of us that would be an impossible stage for one day. I can't imagine it. Distances are one thing, but that's a serious hill.

Baaad Pilgrim.
;) ;) ;)
(Seriousy - Well done! What's your next camino?)

And after you do the right turn that goes to. Burgos, consider going back and taking the Saiatz mountain alternatives. Truly some of the most spectacular mountain walking of any camino I’ve walked. Probably not as well marked but the GPS only came out of my pocket a few times at crucial junctures. You had to keep pinching yourself to make sure the views were real. Although the Olvidado has some stages that rival them too, which is another great option for you BP!
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
And after you do the right turn that goes to. Burgos, consider going back and taking the Saiatz mountain alternatives. Truly some of the most spectacular mountain walking of any camino I’ve walked. Probably not as well marked but the GPS only came out of my pocket a few times at crucial junctures. You had to keep pinching yourself to make sure the views were real. Although the Olvidado has some stages that rival them too, which is another great option for you BP!

Yes I downloaded the Saiatz documents that you published on the Forum, to have a look! Next time I will check it out: there will be more room for alternatives and improvisation then.

In the mean time... Did you have any questions on the Invierno...? ;)
 
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I arrived at the "start" of the ascent before 10 am, so I still had time before noon. I arrived around 3 pm in Salvatierr
Wow. I arrived at about the same time or a bit after, having left Zegama at 07.30. You're a seriously bad pilgrim. Or your feet have wings. Or both. 🙏
Those mountain alternatves will be a piece of cake for you.
 

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