Day 6 greets us with full on sunny sky and a short 15K run into Bilbao. The Camino starts on pavement and goes thru ugly cheap apartments until we reach an important church of San Martine. From here we are supposed to start uphill for 5k then descend into Bilbao, only problem as with a lot of the Camino in town the markers are non existent. Being the experienced lost person and tried of logging extra miles I astutely sit a wait for a new dumbass to come by and lead the way. Sadly 3 then 4 the 5 people do the same thing, pull out maps, walk in a circle then sit down and look at the others and wonder who knows the way? Ultimately a Spanish version of Rocky walks by with his dog, shadow boxing as he walks. One of the Pilgrims pops up and gets directions and away we all go. A game of follow the leader begins. After about 2K the trail markers become frequent and more obvious, then the climb. Its intense but manageable, especially using poles. There is a huge advantage in uphill travel using poles as second form of locomotion, it's a clear advantage over no poles. This is fun, clear sky, nice temperature, great trail, short distance and small pain on the shin splint as uphill does not irritate this injury. Time fly's by, thinking of meeting Kris at a pre arranged spot in Bilbao for a late lunch is great motivation.
I again meet up with the 8-10 people I have seen continuously seen but not spoken to over the last 5 days. We are all on the incline, pushing to get to the summit and enjoy the down hill run into Bilbao. There is one Pilgrim that sports several scallop shells on his pack that represents completed Camino (more on that later). He is a walk star, consistently out walking everyone on any step accents. The first stop in at a Monkery which is at about 1800ft of the 2300ft incline of the day. It's a very old and very beautiful location. I take photos and prepare to move on, when I notice many Pilgrims hanging around waiting for something. I decide to hang and see whats up. Sure enough a 15 minuets later on hunched over 90+ year monk shuffles out of the church and moves ever so slowly over to the closed gift shop. He opens it up and everyone rushes in to get a stamp. See, the deal is the very first thing you get as a Pilgrim on the Camino is a passport. At every historical place, every town, every information station, and some restaurants, all have stamps. You are supposed to acquire these stamps in your Camino passports proving you have visited these locations. Some stamps are very coveted by the fact that they are hard to obtain, either because it's a long walk to get there or places are rarely open. You need stamps from certain specific locations to receive your proof of completion for any particular route. Other stamps are just fun to have. The route I am on is the longest and most difficult route. Therefore this stamp is important. As I get my stamp I see the scallop shell's in a box looking ready for sale. I did not know at this time that you EARN a shell you don't buy one. Like a rookie I think its another Chotski to hang on my pack. I offer to buy and the monk say's "NO, temnina". I think he does not understand. I tactfully wait till the shop is empty and bring out money and point to the shell AGAIN. This time he turns, looks me straight in the eye and with a crooked finger shacking in my face says, "blah, blah, blah NO NO TERMINA! I do not understand anything but I aint gettin a shell and lightning could be coming my way unless I exit pronto. Which I do. Outside now shaken by how pissed he was, I see a Pilgrim with a shell on her pack. I ask if she speaks english "a little" she replies. I ask her where she bought the shell, she and her buds start laughing, well shit I pissed off the pope now I am entertaining randos, great. She kindly explains the whole deal. You EARN a shell, NEVER buy a shell. You must walk the miles prove you walked the miles then you will earn not buy a shell ONLY in Santiago. Well, don't I feel stupid. I beg the lady to go back with me to the monk and explain my ignorance and beg forgiveness. She did, he did, I left. I get it now.
1 hour later @ 11:30 I summitt and See Beautiful Bilbao. It's a steep by gorgeous walk into the city, feeling great except for the shin I find my girlfriend and we head to a spot she discovered the day before. The town exceeds all expectations, wonderful historic buildings, great weather, tons of great bar and eateries, beautiful river in town and the Guggenheim! WOW! What a town. More on Bilbao later. Need to soak the shin.
Tot: 2.419s; Tpl: 0.053s; cc: 10; qc: 56; dbt: 0.0541s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb