Thursday, 9 June 2011


We have arrived at Donastia. This is the Basque name for St Sebastian. It also means that we have almost completed Spain's northern coast. Yesterday was a long day's ride and we knew that we had pushed ourselves hard. We had seen a fascinating array of steep sided hills, lush river valleys and coastline. We started the hills in Cantabria and followed them to Euskad, the home of the Basque people.

Our first day took us past some coastal mudflats and our first sighting was a buzzard curiously out of place away from its native trees. We were able to see lots of fish swimming in the shallows scavanging for food, then disturbe an egret looking out for a fish dinner.

The hills followed in dramatic form. Our roads were not too steep, just long pulls that seemed to go for ever. Then, incredulously, we found the first sign that gave a speed restriction on cyclists, 60kph. Even Sir Chris Hoy, king of cycling athletes, would have struggled to exceed this limit on these hills.

Our first night was at Castro Urdiales, a medium size town on the coast and we found accommodation in its old part. This was very pretty with quaint narrow streets and houses with balconies leaving into one another.

We went to a fish restaurant where each dish was served one after the other so nothing was cold.

Breakfast the next day was tortilla. This was scrumptiously delicious and ideal food for cycling. Mine looked as if it had just been taken out of the oven by someone's mum. Potatoes, egg in the form of an omelette, bacon, peppers are fried slowly then put into the oven to finish. The result was mouthwateringly succulant.

Much of this day was spent in Bilbao, where we went to the Guggenheim Museum. This is a masterpiece of modern architecture filled with art forms by aclaimed artists like Damien Hirst.

It was a long ride to Donastia. Bilbao has no cycling policy and there was only one route out on a very busy main road. It was a case of heads down, peddle fast and anticipating other drivers. So this morning, we have completed our third night and will be heading for France.

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