A watery day. I walk by rivers in the rain, past a pouring tap that cannot be turned off, ford a stream by balancing on stones, listen to billions of rain drops pattering on millions of leaves. A dissolving sort of day.
Plenty of gentle hills, mainly through pine and oak woods with stands of eucalyptus and hornbeam in the morning and then large grassy meadows and small villages of stone chalets in the afternoon. I hear cuckoos and see a goldfinch flit off a fence.
I walk a while with a young Spanish guy from Barcelona this morning and then catch up with two German women who I'd met before, but generally I'm alone with myself- I feel I'm slowly sinking into my soul.
I had planned to stay at the Monastery at Zenarrutza, but it doesn't open its alberge until 3pm and it's too cold to wait so long, but I listen to the monks chant morning office in front of an amazing altar-piece, which is very restful interlude.
I pass several interesting churches and chapels on the route, but they are all locked which is a shame.
I have my late picnic lunch in a open-sided shelter which I think is a sports hall for the Basque sport called "Harri-jasotze" which involves lifting huge blocks of stone weighing 100s of kilos.
I arrive at Gernika about 4.30pm after walking 7 hours so I'm ready to stop. I'm booked into the Youth Hostel, but Justine an American pilgrim I met Orio, has warned me on WhatsApp of bed-bugs. YIKES! I'm trusting that my bed-bug sheet will kill the blighters... the hostel is pretty dirty and we are handed out plastic bags to put our clothes in - so I'll know in the morning. Nice clean cotton sheets though.
It's still raining, but armed with the lovely brolly I bought in Bayonne, I go in search of the ceramic-tile reproduction of Picasso's painting Guernica/ Gernika which is at the far end of the town. Then off for a very nice supper at a restaurant recommended by a local, 'La 'Veheje' with the two German women. Wonderful fish soup served in a huge silver terrine, followed by fried fish and rice pudding (a local speciality) and creme caramel with a bottle of good white wine. Our every reaction was watched and the ancient proprietress was delighted that we so enjoyed her food. Charming.
And so to bed. Hopefully without any bed bugs!