Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A few days off: Orio

The 'coast road' from San Sebastian toward Bilbao is a slightly misleading name in the respect that it is several hundred metres above sea level. I suppose it is a coast road in that it follows the coast line but it often features a mountain on one side and a vertigo-inducing drop on the other. If one wanted a quick dip in the Atlantic and were not prepared to dive in directly from the road, it would take an hour or so to get there.

Nonetheless is it spectacularly alpine. Despite, or possibly due to, a 40 year aversion to The Sound of Music it was difficult to supress a dozen images of Maria and the von Trapp family cavorting about and snatches of those catchy but essentially sick-making tunes strolling unbidden through the sub-conscious and occasionally escaping in a hummed sort of way.

Halfway to Bilbao is Orio where I am persuaded that we are NOT going to camp in a car park and be evicted – again. So for the first time I voluntarily drive into a campsite. All thoughts of the hills being alive are buried beneath a wash of unexplained guilt at being on a campsite. My pikey credentials are severely compromised. 

This is the end of the season and it is almost empty, mostly couples like us blissfully exempt from fixed holiday dates, the odd surf bunny and a few straggling families. Being a Sunday, the families are leaving so they can go home and re-insert their children into the school calendar. They pack unfeasibly large quantities of ‘stuff’ into unbelievably small vehicles  leaving us in splendid isolation.

The Kanping Orio has a bar, a supermarket, a swimming pool, WiFi, the usual wet facilities for and what readers of The Caravan Club Magazine often refer to as ‘electric’. The supermarket is not very super comprising a few desultory shelves of canned and dusty foodstuffs which would shame a fast food junkie and can induce cholesterol overload through the shop’s windows. It is here I discover that the despicable Néstlé make a coffee named Bonka…

..more to the point I discover that the not-so-supermarket is closed. This is not such a bad result and we are encouraged to finish the bits and pieces in the fridge and avoid additional saturated fat overload.
I have connected the ‘electric’, the fridge is humming away and will keep the beer nicely chilled  assuming that the power distribution system holds out…

The WiFi only works near the office. There is nowhere to rest a laptop except the bar terrace which has tables and a notice saying that the tables are only for the use of bar customers and blah blah blah… in short I am unsure if I am being cajoled into having a beer. While this is usually not a problem I have no cash and cannot be arsed to work out how explain in Basque that I need to open a line of credit or go back for the cash. 

So I check the email on the hoof and go and have one my beers which have reached a perfect temperature. In these circumstances the perfect temperature is whatever temperature the beer happens to be at.

Next day we go and have a look at the beach which is a bit like a Victorian municipal garden in that nothing is out of place, everything is designed to be used as a resort beach and dogs must be kept on a lead.

There is a jetty which heads towards a breakwater. We amble to the end to see if the two join up. They don’t. 

But it does provide a rather spendid view back towards the shore.

A rusty old ship looks like it is emptying its oil tanks into the sea, but turns out to be a dredger clearing the entrance to the harbour. It is disgorging black muck into the sea and I wonder if it actually takes accumulated sand and sludge  away or just stirs it up occasionally and has a job for life.

The jetty is made of massive stone blocks. It looks as though they have been quarried from the hillside by drilling a row of holes and then hitting the hillside with a big hammer, rather than by sawing with a massive circular saw as they do in many places.

Half holes in rocks

Sawing stone

Despie the seemingly random distribution of these blocks, each one is numbered (in red paint) which I assume means it it can be located pricisely in its designated place [Yeah? Really? Ed.]

The half holes leaves a rough and not unattractive surface  

and there is the odd complete hole where some quarry worker put the drill down while he went to lunch.

 The wind blows across the top of some of the holes producing a series of notes which vary in pitch with the rise and fall of the sea as the waves roll in.

It is like a nautical bottle orchestra.

Verdict: Bits of the hills are alive with the sound of music.

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