Thursday September 8, 2022
Portugalete to Castro: 26.5km / 16.5 miles / 7 hours
Weather: 63°F / 17.2°C, Sunny
Total Ascent: 1408 ft.
Arrived at 13:45
Difficulty Rating: Terrain 3; Waymarking 4
Scenery Rating: 4
After a brisk and very early climb up from the beach in Portugalete, we walked on a pretty cool pedestrian and bicycle path that crossed over a crazy amount of freeways. The vast majority of our walk was on paved paths, which was a change from the rocky, sometimes slippery terrain that we’d experienced during our first couple of days on the Camino. We climbed a very long stairway, which we remembered from 5 years ago. Our training hikes on steep trails made us more prepared this time!
When we got to the Hotel Las Rocas in Castro Urdiales, we saw a gentleman who looked familiar. We were busy checking in, so I didn’t say anything. Later, when we went back downstairs the man was there again. I asked him a few questions:
“Do you speak English?” (Yes)
“Are you from Ireland?” (Yes)
“Is your name Garrett?” (Yes)
We met Garrett 5 years ago on the Camino Primitivo, walking and chatting. We ran into him a few times, in hotels and again when we arrived in Santiago de Compostela. We couldn’t believe that we saw him again! On a different Camino, in the same hotel where we were staying. What are the odds?
We asked Garrett to join us for lunch, but he wanted to stay closer to the hotel. We had a good meal at La Marinera, walked around the castle ruins, the Gothic Santa Maria Church, and harbor, and went for a walk on the beach. The cold water was just what our sore feet and swollen ankles needed.
Later, we had a glass of wine with Garrett, and compared our Camino plans. We’ll be crisscrossing each other a few times during our Caminos, but probably won’t see him again. He will drop down to the Camino Primitivo as we did in 2017, and we’ll continue on El Camino del Norte.
Castro Urdiales, called Flavióbriga by the Romans, is set on a cliff by the sea. A long-inhabited area, with remains dating to 12,000 BC., a Templar castle stood here. The Parish Church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion is a very famous sight. One of the Norte’s finest Gothic churches, its exterior is spectacular, with buttresses flying in all directions. Strange iconography on the main entrance’s frieze harkens back to Templar time, with rabbits kissing oxen, dragons eating serpents eating birds, and so on.