Leaving San Sebástian was a bit sad as we had to say good bye to this beautiful scenic city with it’s delicious food. On the other hand we were looking forward to discover more of the Basque Country. The passage was unspectacular. The most exciting part was the unexpected heavy winds in the beginning of our trip. At least el Capitano could do some excercise by reefing the main sheet step by step. First, second and soon also the third reef needed to be set just to let them out after 30 min again 🙂 We had gusts up to 30 knots probably due to katabatic winds coming from the cliff line. The rest of the journey was a nice fight against the wind. We entered the estuary of Bilbao just before sunset. By the time we finally let the anchor fall it was already dark as the distance of the inlet was another 4 nm. We were just getting Altimate ready for the night when a big dinghy with 4 officially looking guys were circling us, Spanish customs. Strange feeling! They asked to come aboard to check our papers. All was good and the guys were very friendly; we just didn’t expect this being still in Europe and at night.
Tuesday morning, April 9th, we moved Altimate to the little marina in Getxo to get easy access ashore and enjoy the comfort of hot showers,wifi and a washing machine 😉
Getxo is a pretty little village built up the hill with a lot of Pintxos (our regular reader knows that we are talking about tapas 😉 ) bars including great views and sweet little houses built in a way to fit in the slope. Down at the beach line there are still some huge old mansions built some couple of hundreds of years ago by rich families to spent there holidays in this area.
The next days we enjoyed the tranquility of Getxo as well as the hustle and bustle of Bilbao. We visited the “Casco Viejo” the old town and (a must of course) the Guggenheim museum. The Guggenheim museum is definitly an impressive building with a huge variety of modern art. Though with some of the exhibits I don’t get on well 🙂 or maybe I’m too dumb to understand? (I don’t want an answer to that!)
Eventually we decided to hire a car to explore a bit more of the basque country. That was a nice change of travelling. Our pace was much more accelerated (what a surprise) and we could stop wherever we wanted, but then there was the problem with parking… We would have loved to visit San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (a magical headland linked to the mainland by a narrow bridge) but it was so crowded, we didn’t know where to leave the car (it was low season!). Feeling a bit bugged we decided to give up and carry on. (We start to love and appreciate public transportation more and more 😉 )
The trip was just beautiful. The coastline is amazing and the hillside very scenic. It felt a little bit like beeing in the alps. The only difference is that on the opposite side of the alps, in viewing disctance, is the atlantic 🙂 . And that one can see, inbetween the lush hill scenic, sometimes some palm trees which don’t fit to my memories of the alps. Unfortunately we didn’t get some nice pictures to give a proper impression of this area 😦 We followed the coastline until Bermeo, where we turned direction inland to visit famous Gernika and Vitoria-Gasteiz.
After – I think- ten days spending our time in Getxo and surroundings we had the desire to move on. Our next destination was Santander which is already in Cantabria. We left Getxo at a reasonable time in the morning of April the 19th and arrived in Santander in the evening. Our anchorage was not the nicest one. It was right in front of the harbour and more or less inbetween the ferry routes, the jetsky playground, the fishing area and just next to the starting point of a regatta,which made it a very busy anchorage. That doesn’t sound very good? Yet it was great! Our english neighbor friends from La Rochelle where anchoring just a few boat lengths away from us. As a matter of course we met ashore and enjoyed the evening together to catch up and have some beers. As it was Easter weekend there was a lot going on in town. Easter parades everywhere.
We didn’t feel like visiting the city instead we enjoyed a very lazy day on Altimate. Laurence, our single handed english friend announced to join our “La Rochelle meeting ” as well in the afternoon. After his arrival we granted him a little rest and then picked him up with “Jalu” and had another lovely evening with the whole LR crew. Cheers 😉