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Bilbao - San Sebastian (Donostia)- Pamplona (Iruna)

Trip Details

Road Trip 2006 II
Date: Tue, 22/08/2006
Distance: 248 km
Motorcyclists: Manolis, Ploumisti
Photographers: Manolis, Ploumisti
Authors: Manolis
Translators: Ragas
Map: Trip map
Photographs: Link

Sightseeing map

22 August 2006: We wake up around 9am. Today we do not have many kilometres to travel. For this reason, we decide to visit the Museum Guggenheim, that it represents the basic sight of the bigger and beautiful city of the Basque region. Our yesterday roaming in the city was enough so that we realized that we found themselves in a city that the fiesta and the amusement they do not have an end!

We follow, therefore, the motorway A8, where in some point we meet the first sign that leads us to the museum. Shortly and without any problems, we reach in the imposing Museo Guggenheim that impresses us with its architecture, since it reminds something from fish and hull of boat!!! This is also the most important reason of tourist attraction that visit the city and least, perhaps, its exhibits. We direct ourselves to the ticket office and we find a big queue of people that waits there patiently! We did not expect something like that, since none of the tourist guides reports it. Anyway, we wait in the queue while for a while Ploumisti keeps my place, and I find the change to make some walks around the building and to admire its architecture from different optical corners. In the entrance of the museum there is a sight created by the fine arts school, and portrays a puppy of enormous dimensions. Impressive, however, is that it is covered from multicolour flowers, which are maintained in sponges and are found, stuck in the exhibit.

After 1,5 hour waiting we accomplish to take the tickets and entry in the building by paying the amount of 12euros/person. In regard to the exhibits of Modern Art - that are housed there -, I cannot characterize them since I am not a specialist in this subject. What I can say is that some of them impress me. Before we leave, we make a walk around the museum and we meet the arachnoids sculpture, named “Maman”, that is found in the side that looks to the river.

The only sure thing is that the city of Bilbao leaves us very good impressions, despite the fact that we did not accomplish to explore it all. One of the things that we learned is that the visitor that will select it as a destination must carefully select the season of his visit since these central Basque cities have big internal tourism, in point to face serious problem of lodging. In any case, in general lines the first impressions from the Pais Vasco, are positive!
Following the motorway for San Sebastian, the distance that separates these cities are around 90hlm. For this reason, we select the coastal provincial street that can be longer, however it will give us the occasion to enjoy unique landscapes and splendid coastal villages. We drive, therefore, to the provincial network 631 for Mungia and Bermeo.

Initially, the route goes uphill in an altitude of 400m. From where we have the possibility of enjoying the panoramic view of so much of the wider region of Bilbao, but also of the Costa Vasca! From this point, we move downhill up to the point that we reach Bermeo. A small coastal town that constitutes the starting line of an amazing route inside plane regions, through a narrow and mediocre quality of street that in its most points it follows the coastal line. In the way it deserves to mention that we meet the historical Guernica - that it constituted the place that Picasso it was inspired the homonym painting -, but also a lot of other graphic and beautiful coastal villages that represent seasonal aestival destinations, such as Lekeito, Ondarroa, Zumaia, etc. As long as we drive to east, we meet also a lot of French tourists, since the particular regions, on one side are found relatively near in the French borders, and on the other constitute more economic solutions for the French people.

The beaches that you will find are found inside small or bigger gulfs and most of them are full in people. The total kilometres that we have covered up to As Sebastian exceed 150km. If you do not have time in your disposal, we do not recommend to you to select the particular way, but the motorway, since at the summer period, probably, you will traffic.

Late the afternoon we reach in the beautiful San Sebastian (In Basque: Donostia), a coastal tourist city, encircled from green hills. It is not far away from the French borders and is a cultural crossroad. From the first moment, impress us the avenues that cross the city and by driving parallel with the river Rio Urumea, we reach in the coastal road that at the afternoons is changed in Pedestrian Street. We park the motorcycles and we begin to wander in the alleys of the old city, Parte Vieja that is tightened in utmost the gulf of Bahia la Concha. The movement of vehicles is prohibited strictly in these graphic and narrow alleys. Many bars and restaurants are found everywhere, an all hotels and guesthouses are full!

Following the paved alleys, we lead to the marina of Bahia la Concha, in their foot of an imposing enormous rock, Monte Urgull. Many taverns and cafe compose the graphic port. We walk until we reach in the Aquarium and we enjoy the splendid view. From this point there is the possibility to reach on the top of the rock by a path, or to move around it. We select to return in the alleys of the old city so that to make a stop and relax before we leave. We lead to one of the bars of the calle Juan Bilbao region in order to try the local tapas.

As it begins to get darker, we leave the beautiful San Sebastian, selecting the national road A15, for 53km up to the node Irurtzun. It has, already, become darker and we go up hypsometrically, with as a result to feel cold! In the node of Irurtzun, we have 2 choices: the one is to continue in the same road network, entering in the motorway for the last 35km. (with tolls) and the other is to follow the parallel way via a provincial street, covering more kilometres. We select the second choice and we follow an empty route through a splendid environment, as we realise from the minimal points that exist lighting on the villages that we meet. We suggest this route, but it will be better to drive day, in order for you to enjoy also the landscapes.

At 10pm. we enter in the Pamplona (in Basque: Iruna), and very shortly and easily we approach the region where are located the most hostels. We lead to the Fonda La Montanesa hostel, (Calle de San Nicolas 2), 33euros per double room, in a room that has only the basics. Unfortunately, as we were informed most of them are in the same situation and none of them deserve the money you give, but you do not have another choice! As for the parking do not ask! For our good chance, very near, there is the local Basque police station, (with characteristic red uniforms), therefore we park the motorcycles precisely in front of the building!

We leave our things in the room that reminds me scenes from films from 1940, and we go to the central square in order to drink a coffee in order to relax. What has to be pointed out, and we mainly observed it in the current route, is that the names of the cities on the traffic signs are written in Basque language or in Spanish. For this reason it is supposed you know also the Basque name of the destinations that you want to visit, if you do not want to find yourself in the wrong road. Also, when you enter in the cities, instead "centro de la ciudat" (centre of city) you will see "erdialdea", while the tourist offices of information are named: Turismo Bulegoa. Unfortunately, the Basque language is not similar to any other language and in better case, you might be able to communicate if you know Spanish or Italian (because they are similar to Spanish). If you speak the English language you will not be able to communicate so much in the Basque Country, and in Spain!