|Guggenheim Museum Bilbao|
|Along the bike path out of Bilbao|
It required a lot of planning to find stealth campsites every night but I was very lucky on this stretch. Although I mostly had to hike on highways through very populated areas I could always camp in the very rare forested areas in between. Forest here was another surprise: it feels more like Australia than Northern Spain because of the many Eucalyptus plantations. It smells very nice! But of course the forest floor is always overgrown with weeds and ferns and your only choice for a decent campsite is on old and abandoned forest roads.
I had not stayed in any pilgrims' hostel yet because I can't stand the dormitories, but my guidebook said that one of those albergues had a camping area. I hiked a 43 km day to get there and was not disappointed. Although the hospitalero could not understand why I insisted on camping instead of taking one of the free beds he assigned me a great camp spot. The hostel was big with 70 beds and offered communal dinner and breakfast. There is no fixed price for that: you pay as much or little as you can. The place is run by Don Ernesto, a Catholic priest and the next morning I had a long and very interesting talk with him.