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    • Day 34

      Pintxo Eguna

      May 4 in France ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

      Bayonne centrum er delt op i to bydele Petit Bayonne og Grand Bayonne, delt af floden Nive.
      Hver år har disse bydele en konkurrence om at lave de bedste Penãs. Bayonne ligger i en region på grænsen til Spanien. Denne region nægter at bruge hverken spansk eller fransk sprog, så de har deres helt eget. 😳 Penãs er det samme som en bruschetta. Altså en lille skive brød med noget lækkert fyld ovenpå.
      Mange spisesteder melder et hold til denne konkurrence. De starter tidligt og laver de lækre Penãs. For dem handler det om at blive kåret til den bedste. Det er lidt af en festdag for dem, ikke alle er ædru. Når kl slår 18 åbnes dørene og gæster kan købe disse Penãs for 1 eller 2 Euro. Det er frivilligt. Overskuddet går til velgørenhed. Nu handler det så om, for gæsterne at finde de her spisesteder og købe Penãs, og selvfølgelig øl/vin.
      Der er lavet et kort over bydelen og så går skattejagten ellers i gang. 😁
      Vi nåede 7-8 steder og på kortet var der 36. Der var også lige en bus vi skulle nå, ellers havde vi vel spist og drukket endnu. 😁🤔
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    • Day 294

      Foire au Jambon

      April 7 in France ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

      Seit 1462 findet Anfang April in Bayonne die "Schinkenmesse" statt. Der Beste Bayonner Schinken wird nach strengen Kriterien, von der Schinkenbruderschaft (ich denke Zunft oder Gilde) ausgewählt und später verkauft, außerdem gibt es viel Essen aus der Region, es wird viel getrunken, und gefeiert.
      Vor der Markthalle wurde getanzt und in der Markthalle war es ähnlich voll wie draußen. Unser Mittagessen haben wir vor einem der vielen Restaurants gegessen, Tische, Bänke und Stühle standen überall draußen, und jedes Restaurant hatte ein oder zwei Menüs im Angebot. Auf einem Volksfest (teilweise erinnerte es an Karneval) habe ich mit Sicherheit noch nie so gut gegessen!
      Später haben wir uns weiter durch die Stadt treiben/schieben lassen. Auf dem Festplatz waren viele Stände aufgebaut, vielleicht hätten wir vorher besser nichts gegessen und uns stattdessen hier durch probiert.
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    • Day 11

      An excursion to St Jean de Luz

      April 7, 2023 in France ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

      The weather is holding up beautifully and today we got the train (3 stops) to St Jean de Luz. Such as lovely place, as we discovered 18 months ago - a long line of beach with cliffs, a fishing port section, lovely Basque style houses…very much a summer resort.

      We walked the length of the beach, and up to the high point on one end from where you can look back and see the line of Pyrenees mountains coming right to the coast. We sat and had a light lunch (as we have a dinner reservation tonight at 8pm in a rather special restaurant we discovered last visit). We had intended to go back to the market where we had seen a man making paella - it looked and smelled wonderful, and he was in the process of adding a sack of mussels and then chorizo…but when we came back it was all gone!! Oh well, John had spotted a nice little place to eat and we were content. So we had a beautiful day of wandering the streets and coast. Sat and had a kindle time in a square before coming back about 5 o’clock. It actually got too hot sitting in the sun!! We knew that was the prediction and had layers to remove…it had been quite cold in the early morning.

      Now downtime before dinner…..back from dinner…a real experience of fine dining! We had stumbled on this restaurant last time, and managed to get a booking for tonight, in the annex…the main part is very small, and so they have a room 2 doors up the street for about 30 more people. They run dishes to and fro on trays…lovely waiters, so busy running all night. Won’t describe each course, but you will see from the photos how special it was, and the tastes amazing. Off to sleep…
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    • Day 12

      Easter Saturday in Biarritz

      April 8, 2023 in France ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

      OMG just realised I haven’t written up the day, and it’s 10.40 and I’m showered and ready for bed…and there’s so much to say, but will try and make it concise!! First, I must elaborate about the wonderful dinner last night, rather than just the photos…it was at La Table de Sébastien Gravé, and a very special night. And for €49 a head it was pretty amazing, compared to our prices for the equivalent meal.

      Anyway, today we got the bus to Biarritz. Another beautiful day, and found it is as enchanting as ever. It is ritzy, but not formal and posh…in the front there is La Grande Plage (where today there was a surf carnival, sounded just like Manly with the loud speakers etc) then there are promenades each way, which lead to many other coves and beaches, and amazing rock formations. So beautiful…Carole and John were blown away I think, and tomorrow we all plan to return there for another day of relaxation.. Biarritz is between Bayonne and st Jean de Luz….bigger and it is where the airport is. So we had a light lunch in the little fishing village area, walked to the lighthouse, and eventually went to get the bus back at about 5 o’clock…

      Well that was the start of the craziness…we knew the jamon festival in Bayonne was a big thing, plus it’s Easter Saturday and a holiday, but we got the bus at the beginning of the journey back, and with the crowds waiting it was full to start…I managed to get a seat, but the others stood the whole way, as at each stop more people packed on…all about 20+ and obviously heading to Bayonne to rage! It was quite funny, and happy…like a party bus…and when we got back, Bayonne was crazy…crowds that you could hardly walk through…

      We wanted to find somewhere for dinner, but had doubts of the possibility…but happily found a creperie that had tables not yet full, and that was a good dinner..galettes with Basque jambon, cheese etc. (very like 4 Frogs!)…getting back to the hotel was a feat…Amr and I stayed out and tried to find somewhere to eat tomorrow night, but places were either closed or not taking bookings…so we’ll see…maybe a late lunch in Biarritz! And another funny thing, at the creperie, when Amr and I were waiting in line for the one toilet, we got talking to the couple in front of us and he was amazed we were Aussies and said he lived in Australia 10 years ago, and in Manly!! He couldn’t believe we lived in Manly, and thus developed a great friendship!!

      Off to sleep, but will put some photos of the beauty of Biarritz.
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    • Day 13

      Easter Sunday, another trip to Biarritz

      April 9, 2023 in France ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      Our last day in Bayonne - and we decided to go again to Biarritz…it is so easy on the bus (even if chaotic on the return journey!) and the lovely weather holds. So first we went to the aquarium which we had seen yesterday and planned to return to…Carole and John were very impressed and happy there, and we didn’t last as long as they did, but it was a good display, and we agreed to meet at the same fish restaurant as yesterday at 2pm, for a late lunch. We went by there earlier, and our waiter recognised us and said if we came at 2 it would be fine (the sign said finish lunch at 2, but we did see them seating people after that, a flexi schedule).

      So we met at 2 and had a lovely Easter feast. Not quite as frenetic as yesterday but all quite busy, and the bus coming back to Bayonne was as crowded as ever. After lunch we all went our separate ways. C and J went back to see the Basque Museum in Bayonne, and we wandered along the waterfront one last time, had a coffee and after more wandering had a drink at a very swish bar (the array of bottles was impressive).

      Now back, and getting ready to get the little train up to St Jean Pied de Port tomorrow morning. About to meet C and J for a drink, and maybe a very small snack (I am still full from lunch)…

      Back from our small eating…I just ordered cheese as couldn’t face an actual plate, even salad! Maybe it was because I ate all the mash they served with the fish! It was delicious, with a touch of nutmeg…tonight it was a plate of lots of cheese to share, so we have smuggled a supply out in a napkin to have tomorrow…but some cheese, bread and a glass of red was all I needed now…and an Easter egg from the hotel reception! Perfect. Walking back we noticed that the clouds are gathering…I think our perfect weather may be ending…can’t complain though, it has been so good.
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    • Day 9

      Grateful to be in Bayonne!

      April 5, 2023 in France ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

      We are now in Bayonne and very happy. Our TGV to Bordeaux left on time and zoomed down with no stops…got to Bordeaux at 12.15, a beautiful sunny day and a little warmer than Paris. We had 3 hours till our regional train left for Bayonne, so we sat in a nearby cafe and had lunch…all perfect!

      Then at 3pm we found our platform and sat in the train for Bayonne, and 5 minutes before we would leave there was an announcement to leave the train and evacuate the station! Apparently a bomb threat, so everyone in the station on all trains was herded out, and further and further up the little streets and alleys round the station….actually we were happy that we had got to Bordeaux without mishap, and we feel sure that there would have been disruption tomorrow, our original booking, but now we had to hang round, sit in the gutter and wait till they declared the place safe in about 2 and half hours! Great cheer when we were finally let back, and we rushed back to our train, even though it had been disappeared from the departure board, and thank goodness…we got seats, and eventually it left, with all the extra people who would have wanted later trains, and people sitting in the aisles and crammed in!

      By Bayonne many had left and we finally arrived here just after 8 (instead of 5.20) but it was still light, it hadn’t been rainy etc…could have been worse! So now all settled in our hotel and looking forward to 5 days here over Easter. We went over the river and had dinner and chilled, and now about to crash!
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    • Day 6

      At the Starting Line

      August 20, 2023 in France ⋅ ⛅ 79 °F

      Well, I’ve made it to St Jean Pied-de-Port, the starting point of my Camino! I had a lot of hesitation today, a lot of nerves. I felt intimidated by my fellow pilgrims - they all look so confident! Waiting for the train in Bayonne was the worst. But once I got to SJPP, it was better. Checked into my first hostel, got my giant extra bag ready to be shipped off to Santiago, checked in at the Pilgrim’s office, picked up a pin for my backpack, and drank a glass of sangria. Much to my surprise, my gite (hostel) was offering a communal dinner tonight, and all vegetarian! It was really lovely. Nice to meet so many other pilgrims. It’s 9pm and nearly everyone is in bed. I’m the only one not doing the full distance to Roncesvalles tomorrow, but am instead breaking up my first day over the Pyrenees. Send me good thoughts, send me prayers, cheer me on - whatever you feel is right - I certainly do appreciate it!!Read more

    • Day 12

      Return To Go, Where's my $200?

      July 22, 2023 in France ⋅ ☀️ 61 °F

      Fate and Flixbus bring me here today.... Gare de Bayonne.

      Right back where I was my first day in France, and my first day on The Camino. (… )

      It feels.... Poignant. I'm surprised at how familiar it is after nearly two months of seeing and being in new places. I've slept in close to 50 beds (lost count), visited at least 100 cafes (lost count) sought innumerable yellow arrows (never even tried to count), smiled 10,000+ times, and seen more people, places, and things than one could shake a stick at (I had 2 sticks, *that* I can count).

      I've been to three countries, uncountable towns and villages, and taken over a million steps (literally). I've lightened my load and added new things to it. I've (surprisingly) lost nothing, and gained.... Everything.

      I suppose that the emotion is there regardless of the glimmer that triggers it... Today I found myself disembarking from a snazzy electric bus from Biarritz to see the Gare (train station) and .... The tears just sorta squoze out a little. Happy tears. Tears of recognition that.... ¡Carajo! I really did something special and I am not the same guy who walked into that station in late May. Perhaps the same guy, just a very different version.

      I don't know that I'm any smarter nor wiser, but I am certainly healthier, more open-hearted, calmer, and less .... Depressed.

      I hate to use that word as I feel like there are many other people who are suffering more acutely than I can even imagine. In light of my own emotional struggles with the loss of my brother (among some other things): if you are struggling, please seek help. Even if you don't "need" it. Talk to someone, a professional. There are resources out there. I was prone to tell people that "I have coping mechanisms, I'll be fine" which was utter bullshit. From the bottom of my hole I could barely keep my nose above water and deeply regret the time I wasted there. It took hitting my own version of bottom to convince me to make changes and the journey back to me has been so beautiful that I wish a similar path unto anyone currently in the dark. You can do it.

      And on that happier note, I'm enjoying a (believe it or not) pain au chocolat and a tasty (enormous!) cup of coffee as I get a dose of ocular sunshine ( ) prior to starting my bus journey across the south of France.

      It's a beautiful day. I am happy, healthy, and excited about... Adventure.

      ...much better than the $200 that monopoly promised.
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    • Day 10

      Perfect day in Bayonne

      April 6, 2023 in France ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

      What a lovely day! Weather gorgeous and the town alive and sparkling. I don’t think I mentioned before that we have arrived just at the time of the Foire au Jambon - the ham festival…a weird coincidence as last time, in October 2021, it was also the annual ham festival…but now realise that in 2021 it was probably postponed from April till October because of covid? That is my theory…anyway, what a bonus, as the place buzzes, and it is all about jambon- the ham like prosciutto, not like what we have in sandwiches!

      Today is also the day of the strike, which is why we avoided the train journey today, and there was a loud and long march through the town at about 10.30, protesting about the retirement age changes…but after that I suspect the marchers went on to join in the ham festivities! We all went to the centre where there are stalls of so many ham producers are showing off their wares…from all around this region. Today is the first day - it continues over the weekend, but today they selected the winning ham of the year.

      After that excitement, we wandered separately to explore. So happy that Bayonne is showing off so beautifully for Carole and John who haven’t been here before. Amr and I had fun strolling around - checked out the beautiful cathedral (world heritage site) and cloisters, I had a lemon sugar crepe and we had a drink at a busy bar where there were quite a lot of people dressed in traditional Basque dress, and playing music and singing, all for the festival. Bayonne is French of course, but also Basque with many signs bilingual, and even a touch of Spanish which is very close…they are very conscious of being a special region! And it is!

      After a spell of afternoon downtime and reading kindles in a pretty park by the river, we had an early (7pm) dinner. Delicious trout, and John had pork. And we started with pimientos padron and croquettes - our favourite Camino tapas!! All is lovely.
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    • Day 3

      Visita a Bayona

      March 29 in France ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

      Por la mañana cogemos el autobús (linea 38) y visitamos la ciudad de Bayona. Volvemos a la auto y pasamos ahí la tarde ya que llueve muchísimo. La autocaravana no nos arranca y pasamos la noche de nuevo en Anglet.Read more

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