Janine's Birthday is the day I left the Camino. It's convenient to blame my sprained ankle - I'm actually surprised how well I've done on it for a week. The day was somewhat unfortunate but it just worked out well on the calendar and it sounds like she had a great day without me. Walking 20 miles because she and her compatriots just felt like walking.
This morning I rose early with her and caught a 6:45 bus to Donostia (the Basque name for San Sebastián ). Shortly after getting off the bus I ran into a fellow pilgrim (we recognize each other by our limp and our scallop shells). He had walked much of the Camino including the northern route (the traditional route is called the French Way). I had pondered walking a day or two up north after a couple of days off. He encouraged my plan - suggesting I walk a few days to the west of Bilbao. I'll likely do that. He, like everyone else, made it a point to mention we were at the grastronomical center of the universe (his caveat: western food).
As much as I think I'm a desert person, I so love to walk along the beach. It was overcast and yet I was overjoyed to be walking sand with the waves washing against my feet as the myriad of children in surf school ran back and forth on my path. San Sebastián is a very touristy town but they do it well. The buildings are a mix of ancient churches and more recent colorful beach high rises that all seem to blend well. The aquarium was wonderful (although a little heavy on the maritime history even with the audio guide). I haven't been too hungry today so I've mainly been feasting with my eyes on the fantastic layouts displayed in all of the tapas (Pintxos) bars. I've taken my nap so I'll be off to explore the food and the nightlife shortly.