The way home.
I’d decided on a bus to San Sebastian and some time by the sea before joining the train at nearby Hendaye, just over the French border.
The view from my bus: a real sierra, a saw-toothed range such as I hadn’t seen to this point.
The vivid aquamarine was also a first on the Camino. I’m leaving the Camino, you say? We’ll see.
San Sebastian is an elegant 19th century city, with its neo-Gothic cathedral, Haussmann layout, well proportioned apartment buildings, and ornate ocean promenade.
In the old town, some delicious barroco.
And the main thing, though surfless.
A Sydney boy can’t do much with a beach like that except cool off. I decided on some long strolls, and one of them took me to the elevated west end of the Concha, along the superb sea wall…
…to the frozen-wave rock formation at the point, more arresting than the nearby “sea-comb” sculptures…
…then high up over the ocean.
I saw it, so unmistakable.
A familiar figure was shuffling up the hill before me. A slight, older lady took off her backpack and rested by the road, so I was able to draw level with her and ask the usual questions. I tried Spanish: it’s wise to use the language of the country, rather than English, which some people find presumptuous.
The lady was German, and, yes, she was heading to Compostela!
This was the Camino del Norte, the coastal route from Irún. After a typical pilgrims’ conversation, she headed off west, and I made my way back down the hill to the city. On the way I encountered a group of German pilgrims, older men, barking gutturally at one another, looking for their gîte for the evening. Why was I so eager to help them find it? Why did I feel so engaged with these people?
Ah, Messire Jacques!