Friday, 12 April 2013

Easter by the Atlantic Ocean on the border between France and Spain

We soon realised that Easter is not a good time to be on the road. There is a lot of traffic wherever you go especially along the coastal routes. Even inland there is no escape, as the locals love to drive up into the mountain villages for lunch. You soon end up with 3 or 4 French drivers on your tail, impatient to overtake a couple of rubber necking Brits.

March 29 Good Friday

From our campsite in the village of Urrugne, we drove along the coast road to the resort town of Hendaye which is located by the Atlantic Ocean, and next to the river Bidasoa, which is the border between France and Spain. The spanish town across the estuary is Hondarriba.
We enjoyed a good walk in the sunshine, along the promenade next to the beautiful beach, with a gentle Atlantic surf rolling in. Eventually the clouds began to build and after a few spatters of rain we decided to head back to the car. Hendaye is a very pleasant understated resort, which is well worth a visit.

The beach at Hendaye

March 30 Saturday

We set off into the hills to explore the Basque countryside and came across very attractive, pristine villages surrounded by fields, forests and mountains. There are many large houses with balconies, white washed walls, timbers painted red. The air is fresh and clear, and there is a feeling of confidence, affluence and pride.
We continued into the hills along Valle des Aldudes to get away from the traffic, and we did find some quite roads around the villages of Osses and Irissary. Although we had explored only a tiny portion of the region, by the time we got back to base we had covered over 60 miles.

A quiet road in the Basque Region

March 31 Sunday

I told Maureen about a quiet mountain road I had discovered on the map which would be traffic free, and we would be able to pull in wherever we wanted. The road led to a col at 400m, I was confident that there would be nobody about.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a nightmare, as there was a resort at the top with shops, bars and restaurants. As we negotiated many hairpin bends, with a big drop to our right, the french were coming down too fast and swinging over to our side of the road, pushing us towards the abyss, very scary. We decided it was safer to return on the Spanish side through the town of Bera, a longer but safer choice.

April 2 Tuesday

San Sebastion
We arrived about 1pm and parked up at the east end of the bay, then set off walking along the promenade in search of a Menu del Dia, which we found at the Cafe del Concha, where we had a very good lunch in the warm sunshine for 14 euros each.
San Sebastion's cockle shell shaped bay is a tremendous sight, with Mount Ungell to the west and Mount Igeldo to the east. We walked the full length of the promenade and back. The beach is beautiful flat, firm sea washed sand, in summer it is apperantly covered in roasting flesh, but not today!
On our way back to the caravan, we called at the supermarket, and it was at this point that I realised that my rucksack which contained my wallet had disappeared, presumed stolen. We have tried to figure out when and how this happened, but we cannot come up with an explanation. I soon decided to let this incident go, so as not to spoil a great day in San Sebastion.

Ralph back in San Sebastion 50+ years on, looking much the same!

April 2 Wednesday

Today I had to pay a visit to the local police to report the theft of my wallet, including my driving licence. He gave me a document that I could produce if stopped by the police whilst in France. The campsite kindly checked with the Spanish police to see if anything had been handed in, to no avail.

April 5 Friday

We are moving today, north of Biarritz, onto the Atlantic coast near the village of Souston in the department of Aquitaine. Our chosen campsite was closed when we got there, so we had lunch parked outside and then moved on to our second choice. This site was expensive at 26 euros per night, and also
somewhat noisy with French down for the weekend, so we moved yet again to Camping Les Acasias which was much quieter and less than half the price.
This area is flat with lots of cycle tracks, and miles of beach and dunes. A paradise for surfers and cyclists, but not for us, so tomorrow we are on the road again.

The Atlantic Ocean, a lone wind surfer, and sand dune.

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