Santoņa to Bilboa - Thursday, 24 July 2003, 24 miles

Set sail at midday into a Northerly F3. By 14:00 we were abreast Castro Urdiales, and decided we had plenty of time to make a lunch stop there, so gybed round and anchored in 12m at 14:30.

Castro Urdiales was the first town we'd seen where yachts were more important than fishing boats. We even considered staying there, and visiting Bilboa by bus. However, when we approached the yacht club steps in the dinghy, we were gestured to go elsewhere. So, we tied up near the inner harbour. The town lacked the charm of the fishing towns that we'd been visiting, so, after a brisk walk and visit to the imposing church, and then a swim, we set out again at 17:45.

However, we now had a F2 North Easterly, dead on the nose for Bilboa. It took us till 20:00 to make the outer entrance, and another hour and a half to thread the various breakwaters in this massive harbour, and anchor in 4m just outside las Arenas marina. The anchorage was secure and comfortable, and the view not bad considering we were on the outskirts of a big city in a commercial harbour.

Next morning, we set a second anchor, so that we could enjoy our day ashore without worrying about Razzmatazz, and also hoisted our enormous Basque flag under the Spanish courtesy ensign.

The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao

We took the metro into town, and walked along the river to the Guggenheim Museum. We were a bit puzzled why everything was so quiet. However, there was hardly a queue for the Guggenheim, and lots of space to enjoy it inside. The building was as wonderful as we'd been lead to expect, but the contents, 20th century American art, decorated the place nicely enough but lacked the distinction of the building itself. (In our humble opinions, of course! ).

We then walked through the deserted town, with all the shops shut, until we found a pintxos bar in the Plaza Nueva (which was presumably new in the 15th century, or whenever it was built) for lunch. The waiter explained that it was the feast of Santiago. Then back to the boat. We felt we'd already had enough of big cities, and it was time to leave.