Saturday, August 3, 2013

San Juan de Gaztalugatxe

     San Juan de Gaztalugatxe is a 10th century hermitage in the Basque region. It is different from most hermitages because it is built on a small island that has been connected to the mainland. To get there, you must walk down. Far down. 

Before the descent.
   The hermitage is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. 

     The sea is constantly eroding the small island, evidence of which can be seen by the rock archways formed by thousands of years of waves. 

Before the ascent. 
     At the top, there is a church and a church bell, which you are supposed to ring three times when you reach the top. 

Katie ringing the bell.
     The surrounding Bay of Biscay is breathtaking. Sitting on the far side of the church, you can't sea anything but blue and white, with no sound of civilization. I fell asleep for a while. Eventually we began to descend the hundreds of stairs. 

The descent. 
          At the bottom of the stairs you can get closer to the water, which is cold and clear.

     The hermitage is a little out of the way, but you can get there by taking two buses from Bilbao as long as you ask the second bus driver to stop there. That is what we did—we stayed in Bilbao for two nights, but this excursion was the highlight of our time there. 

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