THE ROAD TO GAZTELUGATXE

The allure of Game of Thrones is so strong that even we couldn’t resist. Gaztelugatxe aka ‘Dragonstone’ came into my consciousness after a colleague at work told me about it and showed photos from his trip. We talked earlier about Mont Saint Michel from a recent visit and since he knew I was going to his favorite Bilbao, the idea of seeing something similar came up. The idea was intriguing at the time but I wasn’t sure of the logistics involved.

Since we now had use of a car to get around Basque Country, the possibility that we could actually go gained traction, and after seeing Guernica just earlier, it wasn’t a stretch to go a bit further. The only drawback and possible dealbreaker – there was a 2-kilometer walk from the parking lot all the way to the base of the little island, plus an additional 240 steps to go up to the top. Definitely not an easy feat for most people.

But as we persisted and believed in the impossible, it came true.

The downward journey from where we parked to the stone bridge near the shore was relatively easy and as if like magic, the clouds parted showing the sun for the first time today, the islet showed more detail, the view more and more awesome as we came closer. It was a gorgeous day and here we were in front of an amazing opportunity, and suddenly there was no question whether we would climb up.

It was a relief to make it to the top with only minor damage to my ego. The view was terrific apart from a group of drone-crazy narcissists who kept smiling at their obnoxiously loud machine to no end, and finally finding out who was tolling the church bells – there was no sense to the number and frequency of chimes – confirmed my theory that random people were the culprit.

As much as I wanted to stay longer, for lack of time we had to go back down and then up again to the main road. And because some were quicker than others, I made it up first. After Arnie came, we waited for the rest by a quaint bar at Gastelu Begi, enjoyed a drink and some local olives, until the rest arrived and did the same.

It was already 9:30 p.m. and we still hadn’t had dinner. Our long day still had some time to go.

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