What a difference a day makes. I arrived in Castro Urdiales at 1.00pm to find the albergue did not open until 3.30pm. This gave me plenty of time to eat, get on the internet and write up my notes. When I arrived there was just one pilgrim and his dog ahead of me and only another three had arrived by 3.00pm. The albergue only has 16 beds. It makes me wonder what happens to all the other pilgrims who are walking the same path.

Last night’s accommodation was very quiet. I never saw the woman who owned the house from the time she gave me the key around 6.00pm until I left this morning. She never left her section of the house which is separated from the guests rooms and
common area.

It was an easy walk today, just 15km of steady climbs and descents. Because it was sealed roads it’s very easy to make a steady pace. After an hour I was back in contact with the sea and had walked into a different province, Cantabria. All the way from Muskiz to Onton I was surprised to see yellow arrow markers. But at Onton they took a different way to where I was headed. I wasn’t in the slightest tempted to follow this alternative path after yesterday’s experience.

I had a wonderful sleep last night- 7 hours without hearing a single snore, unlike the albergue in Bilbao where a man trumpeted all night long. Another thing that has to be contended with in albergues are the sprinters. Generally they have their backpacks packed the night before and have their mobile phone alarms set for 5.30am. Everyone uses plastic bags for storage. Soon after the alarms go off the sprinters are rustling their plastic bags and are gone by 6.00am.

I went for a walk into town this afternoon. Churches are places normally low on
natural light. Not the one in the heart of the old district. Behind the altar is a mural – not your usual church mural. This one had nine people. The one in the centre was a Christ-like person dressed in a white robe. Of the other eight, six were men dressed like seamen and miners, a woman who appears to be a fishmonger, and a child holding a small lamb. The two ocupations represented by the adults are a relection of the city’s connection with the sea and mining. This church is full of natural light. I was able to make some notes as I sat and pondered the mural. Then, resting my head on my forearms I slept for half an hour.

This town did not feel like it had a heart. There was not one area where people gathered and you could say of it, this is the heart of the city. It was all spread out. When I get not a town early I feel at a bit of a loose end. What to do? Here the beach did not offer any attraction, but I walked into the city with a woman from the Chech Republic who was heading for a swim because it’s something she could not do at home where there are no beaches. I invariably go for a walk irrespective of how far I’ve traveled that day.

Next door to the albergue is a bull fighting ring built in the early 1900′s. This is still an activity that is still popular in Spain. There will be bull fighting in this arena at the end of this month. The ring was much smaller than I thought it would be. Yesterday when I looked in I saw women practising a dance routine on a makeshift stage. A far cry from what will happen there in a couple of week’s time.

You really how to order an essay couldn’t go anywhere in 2004 without hearing this throwdown