“Cat Whores Juliet” said the lady in reception. It took me a while to realise that this wasn’t a service they were offering but is instead a public holiday over here – Bastille Day. Always a big day on the Tour de France. I haven’t checked but today and tomorrow will be big stages of the tour. Well worth watching those boys blast up the Col’s of the Pyrenees. I did the Tourmalet a few years ago. It took about 3 hours to do and I stopped for coffee twice along the way. Anyway, if you want to read about Bastille day, here’s the info. I’m off to Spain: What to do on Bastille Day
I’d arranged for Tim (by companion of the last few days) “to call for me” as he came through Bidart. Having spoken to Tourist info we decided to go our separate ways at that point. Tim headed for the hills and I hugged the coast to a town called Hendaye and jumped in the ferry. The ferry is a wee boat that takes you over the river to Spain. The route down was ok but slow. The French appeared to be out in force for the public holiday with traffic everywhere in the towns, villages and cities I guess.
My first impression of the area south of Bayonne and into Spain is that you don’t notice the two different countries The locals are all Basque. To them, that’s the only country that matters. The houses are all white and tend to have Basque red shutters. I now understand why Biaritz rugby play in the red and green that they do.
From the boat, Garmin took me to Irun which reminded me of any of the worlds war zones that you see on the BBC news. The only difference I could see was that the windows hadn’t been blown out of the buildings!
The route took me up the hills you can see in the following tweet https://twitter.com/1jondear/status/620906315737624576 very tough climb. Had lunch at the top in an old taverna. Some sort of thick frittata. Really nice family owned it. Their family had owned it for 80 years and they’d kept it as it was then – it reminded me of the Mug. I stopped a cyclist as I descended the hills. I reckon the only words of english that he knew was “where you go?”, He then took me to San Sebastián and my poorly selected accommodation. Let’s just say if will be an experience!
Despite all the reports, my first impression of San Seb isn’t great. It’s big – far bigger than I understood it to be. It’s noisy and busy so much so that I fear that I’ll get my stuff pinched should I venture On to the beach and try and find a square foot of sand that isn’t taken.
I’ve taken residence in a bar by the sea and had my first tapas that was excellent. I’ve spotted an Indian restaurant that may just get a visit later. It’s very much a rest day tomorrow. Replenish the stocks, get my washing done and give the bike the once over for the push into Spain. Job number one is to validate my routes with local cyclists. They have cycle routes down here but it feels a whole different world to my French experience which had been fantastic. “Chapeau” to the French (where would I be without google translator?