Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Rest of the Big Day in Basque Country

It's been a long time --  a long long time -- since I've posted here in Traveling Sardine Class. It's not that I haven't thought about posting. I've had  blog ideas, and even gathered photos for two or three of them. Some are "promised" as follows-up when I have too many photos for one blog. These are bottlenecks, so to speak, in that I feel compelled finish them before I set forth with current stuff.

I've got to get over that.

We set out with our Basque guide, Iban, and bus driver, Denis, for the centerpiece of the very long day, a cogwheel train ride up Mt. Rhune. I cover our visit that May day to the mountain on the border of France and Spain, within view of the Atlantic Coast, here.  This flashback includes the rest of the day, before and after the marvelous train ride

On one of our earlier days in St. Jean de Luz, I bought a pattern for a quilted wall-hanging, which is likely this view of Ciboure from our side of the river Nivelle; it flows into the Bay of St. Jean de Luz. 


Our bus crosses the river and heads in a southeasterly direction, stopping in Ascain, where we take a few glimpses around the town center, then go into the Église Notre-Dame- de-l'Assomption.

Iban tells us about this church

We move on to our cogwheel train ride up La Rhune, and return to continue on to the Basque Village of Sare for lunch.

Basque Pelota court

There is some kind of mix up about our reservations for lunch that had been made way in advance. I did not note in my itinerary whether the original venue improvised, or whether it was another restaurant that jumped in. Whichever  situation, Hotel Lastiry springs into action and we don't have to wait terribly long to be seated, but we have a long meal, as is the custom, with visually fanciful food creations.

Returning to our bus, we stop briefly for photos at la cimetière de Sare with its variety of monuments, old and new graves intermingled. So many are family plots in these French cemeteries, with generations resting together. Some are kept up; some not. Plastic flowers and real flowers. Strange artificial creations, weather-worn. Faded photos of the loved one. Lengthy tributes. Often on a cool, breezy hill, I am told, because it blows away the odors of the dead.

In 1950, I fell in love with the poetic words of Cyrano de Bergerac, as portrayed by José Ferrer, in the movie based on a play from the late-19th/early-20th century poet-dramatist Edmond Rostand. Needless to say, I'm thrilled that Rostand's Villa Arnaga in Cambo-les-Bains is on the itinerary, although fatigue is setting in from the long day.

It's a 17 hectare property, or around 42 acres, with gardens and a villa. We walk the distance from the entrance of the property to the villa at the far end.

I'm upstairs now, in the villa, looking down at another tourist group having its group photo taken. The photographer looks a little put out, waiting for his subjects to get organized. I got impatient waiting for them. Reminds me of our group, always looking for the opportunity for the official group trip photo. (We would never be disorderly lining up.)


We aren't done yet. Our bus turns into another parking spot in another village. I write down several possible names in my itinerary for this village, but none pans out in a Google search as being anywhere near this area. I zoom into the possible routes from Cambo-les-Bains to St. Jean de Luz on Google Earth and happen upon Espelette, which at least sounds close. The first things up are for tourists -- galleries and gift shops. They are nice, but after a quick look in the first two, I'm still tired and go back to sit on the curb near the bus pickup. It's a very clean and orderly-looking village, and the air is a little too cool at the curb.

Back in St. Jean de Luz, we make the walk back into our hotel from the bus stop; the city along the shore is vehicle-free. I stumble into my room and flop down on my bed. I'm still full from that late lunch. I find a nougat bar in my bag in lieu of dinner.

But I stir enough to go to my window for this post-sunset shot at 9:30, water turned to silver.

And this post sunset shot with an afterglow still at the horizon at 10:20.

That is all for today.


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