Camino del Norte Day 9: Bilbao to Portugalete

Today was another rainy day, though we did some blue skies in the afternoon. There are two alternate ways to walk form Bilbao to Portugalete, so Dave and I split up for the day. I took a bus down to the city center to take some more photos and to go to the Guggenheim Museum before taking the river route, an all-pavement option that follows along the river.

It was difficult to get any good photos in the thick morning fog. I really enjoyed visiting the Guggenheim Museum and seeing a series of installations by different artists with a lot of variety; paintings, photographs, mixed media, videos and just the architectural design of the whole space. I especially enjoyed a landscape series by David Hockney, which included some works that he composed on an iPad featuring scenes from Yosemite National Park. After being hungry, tried and dirty along the trail, there was something about a peaceful stroll through a museum that helped me feel human again.

However, the “river route” to Portugalete was not a pleasant walk. I thought it might meander past waterfront cafes and parks, but instead the path went through derelict graffiti-ridden industrial parks. The hard pavement was hurting my feet and I couldn’t find a place to get lunch so I was getting hungry.

The bright spot in the day was arriving to Portugalete. This charming town appeared sparkling across the river in the sunshine which had finally arrived. And the fun part was crossing the river on a 100-year-old hanging bridge, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You buy a ticket for €0.35 and ride a little car hanging from the bridge. Dave met me on the far side of the bridge and we checked into the albergue, which is quite nice. I had a little trouble locating the shower, but found that there is only one and it is located in the men’s bathroom.

So far, only one of the albergues has had a kitchen, but most have a microwave. We decided to have a microwavable dinner, so I went out to buy some frozen lasagna and some groceries tomorrow since the town we will stay in is very small. Now we are relaxing and getting ready to sleep. We haven’t slept very well the last few nights so hope we can catch up tonight. We have another short day tomorrow to Pobeña, then will resume some longer days. We’re looking forward to being back on the coast tomorrow!