we stayed in a hostel in san sebastian, as a treat. met a really nice spanish couple, fulfilled all stereotypes by being extremely friendly and relentlessly offering us jamon and cerveza, which we gladly accepted as were dead on our feet after that day of cycling - we'd had a massive ascent and then amazing descent crossing into spain (border crossing very non-descript apart from a series of very unfriendly border police wielding what can only be described as gigantic spikey nunhcuks, and not even reacting to my friendly 'hola' ). the first town you come to in spain after hendaye in france, is called lezo. which at first glance is funny, but not really when you remember that z is pronounced th, therefore this town is letho, not lezo. neither of those is actually funny, but after cycling this far, i can assure you that anything is funny. alternatively, anything and everything is also extremely frustrating. it's a bit bipolar, doing all that exercise. our 2nd night in san sebastian we camped, at a campsite up a very surprisingly long steep hill. given that was all the cycling we did that day, it was ok, but a little bit of a shock as we expected that now our main trip was over, any hills would politely flatten themselves out so we could have an easy ride so to speak. the campsite was expensive but had a convenient shop and fairly cheap internet. i was too tired and emotionally defeated to write a blog. until now in fact which is very belated. we found a spot up the road to look at the view of the mountains in the morning, complete with misty atmospheric sun rise type goings on. that day we departed from nik the belgian, but met up again with him in bilbao - we had taken the train and he had cycled. we should have cycled but that's another story to do with bad planning and not knowing what the heck we were doing, a prerequisite for bad planning.
spent the bilbao day night in a little suburb to the north, called portugalete. very very friendly people, who all wanted to help and all joined in and pointed us, upon noticing our enquiring and confused expressions, to the one guest house who opened his door as though he knew we were coming. he probably did. they probably phoned him from the ayuntamiento as they knew we were going. but that ruins my metaphorical description of how friendly the town was. having spent 30 minutes at the ferry port discussing with the man in the security box about how we'd like to get on the morning ferry but didn't have a ticket, and what did he think about that, and it looking like it would be ok, we then decided that we should stay longer as it was such an amazingly friendly and nice place and we could hang out in bilbao and explore it instead of getting the early crossing back to boring old england. so that we did. we found a giant flowery dog in bilbao, and looked at the guggenheim but didn't go in it. we went up the funicular railway to the top of a hill and looked at the view and i ate another chocolate mousse. we met up with nik the belgian for a drink in the evening. we considered looking for jobs teaching english but it's the wrong time of year and i wasn't convinced it was what i wanted to do anyway. i felt an urge to go home. we decided to go home on the next day's ferry from santander and found out about train times. good job too as they were infrequent.
we got the afternoon train to santander the next day. we met lots of other cyclists in the ferry queue. one couple in their late 60's who had cycled from roscoff all the way to santander on a tandem. amazing achievement which instantly belittled ours, though they didn't try, they were very lovely. they'd done it in about 7 less days, and done the whole of it - we had got the train from san sebastian to bilbao and santander and they had cycled that bit, and it's not flat from what i saw out of the train window. we met 2 motorbikists who'd motorbiked 2 weeks across the atlas mountains in morocco. que buena onda. (how cool). they had to take absolutely everything they'd need as there was literally nothing there. at one point one of them passed out and the other one had to drag him under the shade of a passing tree, they had no satellite phones or anything so it was literally life and death if something happened, but that's how they wanted it to be. jeez i freaked out if i didn't see a patisserie for longer than an hour, not sure how i'd manage on that kind of trip.
i'm sure i have more notes to note down from my many notes (am currently learning shorthand to enhance my life as i like taking notes and this way i can copy down people's conversations as they happen, and potentially become an international spy), but i don't have them to hand right now, and wanted to finish the blog somehow at somepoint which is here and now, now. i leave you with some photos which should be self explanatory but i may write things under/over them anyway. adios muchachos y gracias para leer este escritorio (?), si ustedes leen.