The 34km covered between Bilbao and Castro-Urdiales proved to be the last few steps of the Camino for me – I’d been really quite grateful to reach my B&B the previous night, but not as much as both Right Shoulder and Left Shoulder, who were unified in their opinion that strike action would be considered if further mileage was suggested.
A test of their resolve was unlikely though – beyond Castro-Urdiales lay another 60km and a complicated public transport solution if I were to fall short, so a ten minute walk to the Estación de Autobuses was all they needed to tolerate the following morning.
Before then, I took a little stroll around Castro-Urdiales and it’s ancient fortifications from former glories as a major trading port.
The bus service was smooth and speedy and Santander soon came into view – in truth, I felt very little regret at taking the easy way in.
As a Plymothian, this city was familiar in name only as the ferry service connects the two, so it was splendid to finally have the opportunity to explore it in some depth.
What a wonderful city Santander proved to be – from the ferry port and the fascinating neighbouring art museum, it was possible to walk for several miles along the promenade onto glorious golden beaches, around a promontory with a Royal Palace and then onto another set of glorious golden beaches.
Jennycliff and Wembury paled slightly, in comparison.
On my last night in Spain, I took the time to enjoy chorizo, vino tinto, morcilla and tortilla one more time, as well as the savouring the simple joy of outdoor dining as the sun slipped over the horizon.
Santander offered so many things to savour that I actually walked another 30km while I was within her walls, but as I wasn’t carrying my rucksack, Both Shoulders and Left Foot were happy enough to cooperate.
Centro Botin, a funicular railway and another Cathedral were the highlights of a Santander saunter, but it was just as lovely to wander around aimlessly in search of souvenirs and to flop down randomly at one cafe after another.
There was one more chance to enjoy a Pineapple Smoothie Solero too.
Eventually, my ride home arrived, in the shape of Pont-Aven, the flagship of Brittany Ferries.
It was time to say goodbye to Spain, my peripatetic home for six spectacular weeks, across 500 miles and more than thirty locales, each with their own special character and identity.
Each day on the Camino seemed to contain the incident and meaning of a week in itself and I have memories and stories that will burn bright in my heart and soul and mind forever.
Adios and muchas gracias.
And, for the last time, Buen Camino.
Now, what next?
Following this frigate into Plymouth will do for starters.