Leaving Bilbao this morning.

Gordon:  In a marked change from our first six days on the Camino del Norte, today’s walk was mostly flat and moderate in length.  (Yesterday I walked 31 kms, with almost 1000 metres of climbing, an experience my knees were not keen to repeat.)  Today we walked along the shore of Bilbao’s harbour before crossing the waterway and continuing some distance to the small town of Muskiz.  It was the crossing of the arm of the sea that was the day’s highlight, as we did it on the Vizcaya Bridge.  

This iron bridge, designed by a disciple of Eiffel, was constructed in 1893.  It solved the problem of allowing vehicles and pedestrians to cross the narrow strait without interfering with the movement of ships using Bilbao harbour.  It does this by transporting a gondola across the strait on steel cables hanging from a horizontal iron lattice supported high above the water on towers.  As the world’s first “transporter bridge”, presenting an elegant solution to an engineering challenge, it has UNESCO designation.  The gondola can hold six cars and several dozen passengers, and continues to go back and forth every eight minutes.

In yesterday’s blog Ruth mentioned that we had spent the afternoon with an entertaining young English woman named Charley.  Today we learned that Charley will have an extended stay in Bilbao due to COVID.  We hope she has a mild case and is able to continue soon.  For ourselves, we are grateful for our own recent bout of COVID, as we should be at low risk of contracting it again before we complete this trip.  The pilgrim albergues really are Petri dishes; even on an ocean cruise you don’t sleep twelve to a small room in bunk beds.

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