by now I was getting into my stride,the days had become familiar,the sun shone the road lay out before me all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other,but now I was one day behind the crowd I'd been walking with but the Camino does provide I thought as I booked into the only Albergue in Gernika, a youth hostel with a special price for pilgrims, 17 euros as it turned out not that special.as the next stop in Bilbao 25k down the road also only had a youth hostel with a boring city outskirts to walk through to boot decided to catch the monorail link into the city in the morning, while checking out the timetable I was joined by Silvia from Austria who had the same plan-so we rode into the city together.
She turned into the ideal Camino companion warm intelligent,full of fun and adventure and enjoyed a drink as well.
having done the tour of Bilbao we walked 12k out to the Portugalete and its transporter bridge and booked into a twin bedded room (no albergue)
she told me she was a 44 year old Social worker in a women's refuge taking a year out starting with the camino norte then meeting up with her boyfriend in Barcelona her only worry she said was how to last the 6/7 weeks walk without any sex, I'm there for you I said if the strain gets too much,she laughed and said I was too late she'd gone through her older man stage in her 20's
our time together culminated in a hard 32k walk into Llanes-we swept into the old railway Albergue still high on the Adrenalin needed to finish at 8-30,she asked for a quite room for both of us and got it and then having showered paraded around in her bath towel using the Internet to catch up with her daughter,I was hailed from across the room by a young Swedish girl who was cosied up with an older Englishman,do you remember me she said,I searched my memory for young Swedish women with a liking for older Englishmen-surprisingly 3 came to mind (don't you love the camino) this girl from last years Camino who was memorable more for her Polish friend Daria who I am still in touch with was last seen in Santiago last year,the Englishman was called Antony and had packed his tent up at a festival in England and walked all the way down-he was my age wearing a white linen shirt that looked like it had been ironed-I try for this image but never seem to quite get it.
Silvia had placed my boots outside our room as if a testament to this fact
the next day I found out the 2 Englishmen had been the talk of the Albergue albeit without justification in my case
this was to be our last day together as I slowed down-Silvia continued on the coast while I headed out on the Primativo and a compleatly different Camino