Basque Country Appendix

I was in the Basque Country as part of a longer tour from St Malo to Santander in Autumn 2011. I cycled down the Landes coast, from Bordeaux to get there.

I blogged about the Basque bit of my trip here; that’s the colour, this is the practicalities of the journey.

My planned route was heavily influenced by molesoup, who blogged about the route they took from Hendyne to Santander.  I  decided to head inland from Bayonne, rather than head  further down the coast to the border. I also ended up heading coastward a bit earlier than them.

The Basque country is crisscrossed with pilgrm routes and as such there’s good provision of cheap, basic accommodation.  Some of it is only available to those carrying a Pilgrims Credential, worth getting your hands on one if you can.

Weather

I had great weather, warm but not to hot, with a mix of cloud cover and sunshine, no rain. Although I was informed that the weathers not usually this good and indeed I had just missed heavy flooding.

Day 1 : Bayonne

16th November 2011. Zero Kilometres

Bayonne

Bayonne

Together Bayonne, Anglet, and Biaritz make up one urban sprawl. Bayonne is the one with the history and character. Biaritz is grand and has lots of surfers, and Anglet kind of joins them up. You can probably tell which one I rated.

Unfortunately the Musée Bonnat art gallery was closed for refurbishment.

Accommodation: I stayed at the Hotel Monbar, located in the old town, the internal open stair well was pretty cool, and free wifi.

Day 2: Bayonne to Elizondo

17th November 2011. 65km.

I started off round the coast on the cycle track, to check out Biarritz, then headed inland along the D255 to St-Pee-San-Nivelle. A Short stretch on the D3 takes me to the border. From the Border the N121b heads up over the Puerto de Oxtondo (602m), then down into the Baztan Valley.

Accommodation; I stay at the Kortarixar Aterpea (Albergue)  in Elizondo

Day 3: Elizondo to Tolosa

18th November 2011. 63km.

Carry on along the valley bottom on the N121b, heading towards Doneztebe/Santesteban, from here I took the NA170. There’s a steady climb of 26km from here up to the Porte de Usateguieta (695m), then some down to Leitza.  Theres a bonus bump (495m) , but then it downhill all the way to Tolosa on the GI2130.

Tolosa

Market day in Tolosa

The tourist information in Tolosa were super helpful with advice about onward accommodation and route choices.

Accomodation: I stayed at the Municpal Youth Hotel in Tolosa, just 7 euros for a dorm bed.

Day 4: Tolosa to Deba

19th November 2011.  63km.

Leave Tolosa in the direction of Villabona.  There are some backroads, but you’ll end up on the N1 for a short distance,. From Villabona you cross the railway and backtrack a little (there might be a way to avoid this), before taking the GI 2631 over to Zarautz. From here i took the N634 round the coast to Zumaia, i was a little worried it would be busy, but it was quiet.  Stay on this road over another hill to Deba.

Zumaia

The Busy coastal port of Zumaia

Accommodation: I stayed in the Pilgrim Hostel (keys from the tourist info, but you need a pilgrim credential)

Day 5: Deba to Bakio

20th November 2011. 72km.

To leave Deba cross over the bridge by the train station and take the GI 638 round the coast to Lekeitio.  From here there’s a choice of carrying on round the coast, but i choose to follow some cute boys on bikes along the BI 2238 to Gernika.  From Gernika the BI 2235 to Bermeo isn’t to hilly, but be warned the cycle path out of Bermeo is crazy steep (25% maybe). The BI 3101 to Bakio is very pretty.

Accommodation: I stayed at the very lovely Turismo Rural Gaubeka, the only drawback is that it was up a pretty steep hill.

Day 6:  Bakio to Bilbao

21st November 2011.  50km.

Carrying on along the BI 31o1, the day starts with a climb,   – but the views worth every revolution as you look out over yesterdays hills.  I then caried on round the coast on the BI 3152, and then the BI 2122 and BI 637.  In Algorta I spotted a cycle way that followed the dual carriage way a good way along the estuary.  The cycle way ends near the Potrugalete suspension bridge.  From here I just kept the river on my right and made for Bilbao proper.

Portugalete Suspension Bridge

The Portugalete Suspension Bridge

 

Day 7: Bilbao

22nd November 2011. Zero km.

Bilbao is a great city – spent a rest day checking out the Guggenheim and eating lots of great food in the old town.

Bilbao

Bilbao - great city

 

Accommodation: I stayed at the Botxo Gallery Hostel – million dollar views straight over the river and the Guggenheim, for 17 euros a night.

Day 8: Bilbao to Laredo

23rd November 2011. 65km.

I once again kept the coast on my right to leave the city, although you could backtrack to Portugalete and cross the river at the rather cool suspension bridge.  Then headed towards Castro-Urdiales on the N634, then on to Laredo.  I took longer to get out of the city (or more rightly cities) than i thought, and its not pretty.  On the bright side traffic was mostly light.

P1000888

Alot of the day is spent going under and over the main highway

Day 9 Laredo to Santander

24th November 2011. 35km.

You can take in 2 different ferries on the route between Laredo and Santander – you can take bikes on both for a small surcharge. The first ferry takes you from  the tip of the Laredo peninsular to Santona.  I then followed the CA 141 to Somo and caught another small ferry (operated by Los Reginas) to Santander.  You can also catch this ferry at Pendrena. You dock right into the heart of Santander , next to the international ferry port – convenient.