Arriving anywhere new on a Sunday tends to be a problem. The good news was that we already had a map, the bad news was that it is thirty years old, and a very strong head wind was making us work hard at going downhill. The hills have been massive and the views have been worth it. We have however stopped because of hunger, lots of bars are open and they seem to have tapas at the counter but we have yet to figure out how to get a full meal. The town we have stopped in is very picturesque and hopefully we will be posting some pictures.
I am becoming a little concerned about the size of my thighs, but I still have a way to go before they make me look any odder. A small mercy.
Sunday was an early start, forced upon us by the ferry's arrival at 8am local time (7am according to our body clocks) and the awakening made no more pleasant by the fact that it came only about three hours after the drunken howling chav-monkeys had finally left us in peace, so we were not exactly chirpy when we rolled off the ferry.
Having looked at our map and got a rough idea of where to go first, we headed out of the ferry port and started to look for signs to the towns along the route. It was then we began to notice something a little disturbing - the roads on the map were different to what we were seeing, and the town names on the signposts kind of corresponded to what was on the map, but were spelt differently, sometimes recognisably and sometimes not. We had been vaguely aware that the map was old enough to have a "50p" price tag stuck on it - but on closer inspection noted that it was older than both of us, and had celebrated its thirtieth birthday this year. (This is what happens when you borrow maps off your dad ;) During those thirty years, roads had become motorways and, according to a local, town names had changed. There is a local language here, I think it's Basque, perhaps that has something to do with the different version of town names. Well, once we figured that out things weren't so bad, and we started off for Balmaseda (formerly known as Valmaseda).
It was not the most favourable of cycling days. Northern Spain is quite mountainous, so we knew there was going to be a fair bit of climbing ahead, although its nature was a little surprising. The gradients are of the evil kind that are so gentle, you think it's flat - yet you're spinning away in your lowest gear and wondering what's wrong with your bicycle that it's so much hard work. And then you look behind you and see you have indeed been climbing quite a lot. We even managed to find a cycle path, which we followed for a while, although it suddenly ended and spat us out onto the left hand side of the road, perhaps not the best thing to do!
The weather is not brilliant, it's windy as hell and the rainstorms have been coming and going all day. However, the scenery is lovely. We ended up in Balmaseda around lunchtime, the first thing we saw there was an attractive church and lovely narrow streets full of beautiful old buildings. Dgym wandered off to look around and a young girl of about ten came to talk to me, she spoke a little English and told me her name (wish I could remember it) and that she lived here. Charmed by the town and seriously lacking in sleep, we resolved to stop and try to stay the night. Unfortunately there was no campsite nearby, but we found a pension for 33euro and it's pretty nice.