November 27, 2008 § Leave a comment
It´s 5 degrees and sunny this side of Basque Country. I´m pretty excited about the weather and hope it lasts. It´s quite different from the French side, where the lands are rolling soft and green, with white houses dotting the hills and sheep grazing the grass. Kind of like the Shire in Middle-Earth, only there are humans instead of hobbits. On the Spanish side it´s a little more grungy and urbanized, and super close to the Atlantic Ocean.
I love taking photos of the ocean. I love large bodies of water. I must have taken more than a hundred shots while strolling along the beach yesterday morning on the way to see Eduardo Chillida´s sculptures on the western side of the Playa de la Concha. Although technically the walk takes only 30 minutes, it took me a lot longer as I was distracted by various things.
The wind was cold and stung against my face. I noticed several elderly men stripped down to their swimmers and having a morning swim. These people must be hardcore locals. Crazy show-offs! Also, for old people, I thought they were showing WAY too much bare skin.
Along the way there were dogs running around all over the place. I stopped and took photos of this one dog going nuts on the sand, rolling around, drinking from the pools of water, frolicking in the ocean. Kinda like me….going nuts. Somewhere in the middle of the beach there was a children´s playground. I stopped again and took photos of little Spanish kids stumbling about. Awww…they were super cute.
Finally after over and hour I reached the sculptures. They were worth every step in the sand. Check out the picture. And the sun has been shining for 3 days in a row now…will it continue?
November 26, 2008 § Leave a comment
That´s how long I´ve been couchsurfing for. 58 days in a row and damn proud of it. Met some amazing people and done some crazy things. Unfortunately I knew my good luck streak had to end sometime. Wasn´t my fault though as I originally had hosts who canceled on me at the last minute in San Sebastian and Madrid with no explanation. Which I thought wasn´t very nice but hey, life goes on.
It was really hard to leave Ustaritz just when I was starting to make myself at home in Xab´s parents´ place. His dad was a star for giving me a ride all the way to the border. I´ve crossed the border for the second time this month. So I´m here in a nice little hostel in San Sebastian, 2 minutes from the beach. I´m taking this opportunity to be a hermit for a while since I have a private room. With a TV! I hadn´t watched TV in months so I´m basically spending the evening watching Spanish soaps and my favourite hobbits on DVD. I´ve missed you Frodo!
Not to fear though, as my couchsurfing shall resume in about a week in Granada.
November 24, 2008 § Leave a comment
That’s where I am at the moment. Not exactly on my Lonely Planet ‘Europe On A Shoestring’. But somehow, here I am, typing away on a computer in a Basque house, in Basque Country, with a Basque family. So far I have had Basque liquor, Basque wine, Basque food and shown Basque books.
I hadn’t really planned on leaving from France to Spain and back to France again in less than a week. Let’s just say events took an unexpected twist and I got myself invited to spend a weekend in this region, which consisted mainly of Biarritz and Bayonne. Due to some bumps accommodation-wise, the weekend has now turned into a couple of extra days here for me. And believe it or not (I swear this good luck has gotta end sometime), I’m ‘accidentally’ couchsurfing with Xab’s parents in a little Basque suburb called Ustaritz.
I’m being fed like there’s no tomorrow, given a warm comfortable bed, and enjoying the company of amazing folks who are treating me like family. Arrrgh! I don’t really feel like leaving for San Sebastian tomorrow! Maybe one more night…
November 22, 2008 § Leave a comment
I’m somehow back in France for a little bit, in Biarritz. Today, which I hope in Sydney is bright and beautiful, one of my best mates Ivy is getting married to Rodney. Due to my selfish pursuits on this other side of the world, sorry I couldn’t be there guys!
But to make up for my absence, the first thing I did in Biarritz was go to the beach and write my greetings in the sand. Which was pretty damn hard since there was a bunch of kids there having a surf lesson and as you can see, I had to take the photo before the words (faint but there!) were completely wiped out by footprints.
Oh, thanks also to my lovely assistant Xabs, who even put an exclamation mark at the end!
November 16, 2008 § Leave a comment
I plunged right into it. Crossed the border from France into Spain, and got to the land of getting out of bed and breakfast at noon, shutting down between 2 to 5 for siesta and lunch, then basically partying from then on.
Brilliant concept. So I siesta-ed myself on my afternoon of arrival while waiting to meet up with John. I see him at about 9pm and he promptly tells me we would be going to his friend’s birthday. Since I had ‘rested’ up in Bordeaux, I was ready for a big night. It was about midnight by the time we rocked up only to discover it had been busted by the police for ‘safety’ reasons. Just when I thought, boo, apparently the party adjourned to a different location.
I let myself be led along and through cobbled winding streets and past Spanish bottle shops. At an old building with no name we stopped at the sign Kultur-Exea and gave the old timber doors a push. In the dimly lit space I was greeted by a giant paper mache doll almost twice my size standing guard by the stairwell. Up two floors the place reeked of abandonment and disuse. But there was a rocking party going on and that was all that mattered.
There must have been at least 50 people there and I joined in their merry-making. Some guys pulled out their guitars, one guy had his mandolin and with boys and girls singing their Spanish tunes, I found myself fiesta-ing with the locals. Pretty damn good for my first night in Bilbao. The next few days, though included the excellent Guggenheim (which I visited in the rain) and Hanging Bridge, was probably not as memorable. Gotta love Basque Country. Absolutely.
November 15, 2008 § Leave a comment
It’s pretty cheesy but that’s the song on my ipod as I leave France this fine day. Look up the lyrics.
I left today with vivid images of freshly harvested bright yellow vines in the countryside south of Bordeaux. The aromas of wine being made; sweet, musky, woody; lingers in my mind as if I was still standing right next to the oak barrels in their cellars. The smell is intoxicating. I begin to feel rather melancholy and started to reminisce about my last 5 weeks already. In no particular order, what I’ll miss most:
1. Cheerful boulangeries and patisseries in every street corner. In any weather, they make me so happy.
2. Addictive ‘pain au chocolat’. I must have consumed dozens during my time there.
3. Luxurious French wine. If I become alcoholic, it’s totally their fault.
4. The surreal landscapes of the many French countrysides I’ve been to.
5. All you lovely French girls who have shared with me food, drinks, stories.
6. Last but not least, all you super sexy French men, beautiful inside and out. Details unsuitable for this blog.
I’m still completely addicted and fear I shall suffer from withdrawal symptoms shortly. The only thing I can think of which I won’t miss is probably the piles of dog shit everywhere.
November 12, 2008 § Leave a comment
One night in Toulouse, several individuals of questionable character (me inclusive) decided to get out of bed late in the day. It all started out reasonably decent, which involved doing laundry and grocery shopping. However, when we had lunch at 5pm, I was beginning to wonder if we were going to have another midnight dinner, which is a rather strange phenomenon for me.
Anyhow, one learns to adapt to local habits quite quickly. Especially when it involves copious amounts of French wine. It started out in a civilized manner at Jeanne’s place, with good food and good company. After what seemed like hours eating and drinking, we finally get our butts off our chairs and headed out.
I was promised a really cool experience at some rum bar which was apparently decked out pirate style. Ok, pirates are kinda cool. And I don’t mind rum. We arrived just before they closed for the night and had enough time to consume um…a wide selection of their products. It was 2am and we went in search of somewhere else to go. We ended up in some other bar I can’t even remember the name of and had some beers, drink of choice for students, as that was where we were. I started to feel abit old and was quite happy to leave.
But again my companions (of questionable character I stress) thought it would be a great idea to go to a gay nightclub. I suppose people can’t make rational decisions when drunk. Being one of them, I happily shuffled along.
To summarize, the night/morning was a vague recollection of the following:
1. Some guy who brought his 80-year old grandpa to this gay nightclub for shits and giggles. However I think Grandpa was enjoying himself as he was shaking his ass and getting down with it. He was totally bringing sexy back.
2. My male companions having their arses groped at the ‘men only’ section. Hey guys, it’s your own damn fault for wanting to go, so no complaining is allowed.
3. The same said companions pee-ing on the streets in the early morning light.
4. Other random images and unmentionables which are better left as memories in my head.
Good times, Toulouse! Thanks to you I am now completely useless in Bordeaux!