One step, two steps

The shorter walk out of Passaia to San Sebastian, first followed the old harbour, before then taking us up, again, and up, the switchbacks turning our eyes back to the sheltered inlet below, the screeching clanking industry of the huge barges being emptied of their cargoes, the chanted invocations of the gig pilot to his heaving crew of thirteen, and the pootering water taxi linking the two sides of town. A beautiful sight.

A shorter walk, but it seemed to contain all the same elements as its longer cousin – great views, moments of exhaustion, symphonies of muscular grumbling, too many clothes, not enough clothes, a restorative ad hoc sandwich, silence, a sign promising destination nearness.

And then we were heading down with San Sebastian before us. An elegant tidy chic and beautiful town. In the drizzle I’d donned my poncho – a Nato issue waterproof – and I like to think I offered a sartorial counterpoint to the suave Donastians who we passed. In truth I felt more like a medieval hermit re-entering a village after twenty years away, and this is only day 2 of forty four.

I have many partial and evolving motivations for wanting to walk five hundred miles; the joy of Basque pintxos, the magically elaborate tiny dishes stacked along a bar top, is one of them, and the old town in San Sebastian duly delivers.