Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 28, 29, 30 - Time to pack up and head home

Day 28 - October 28,2013

The weather was against us as we had rain on and off all day. Spent most of the day doing laundry so that when we eventually packed everything would be clean when we got home. Was able to pick up some cod for under $3 per pound, fresh. Sat out on the balcony with our jackets on due to the colder weather. Watched what I started calling "Rear Balcony" as a take off on Hitchcock's "Rear Window". Just like in the movie, we could see everything that was going on from our view. There were no murders but we had several neighbors who's routine we knew well. The two guys in different apt's that just about every day would roll a joint and smoke it leaning out their windows. The lady to our left who always put her canary out at the same time and took it in the same way. I whistled with that canary for all 28 days we were there. Another guy who would always open his window and shake out rugs, towels anything he could get his hands on. Never saw him do anything else. Silhouette girl who we think was painting on an easel at night. Never opened her window so we never actually saw her. The older lady straight across who seemed to be hanging laundry out continuously. Two families in different apt's that always sat at the kitchen table and ate together. Had one woman who was always laying in bed and her little kids would come for a visit until she sent them away. I later noticed an 75-80 year old woman (her mother?) who would hang out the laundry and clean the kitchen while she laid in bed. Of course we also heard some of the neighbors getting it on very loudly. The girl was muffled at one point so he could let us know that his business was climaxing. Who could forget the earlier mentioned stoner who dances naked on his balcony smoking a joint to very bad music. Nudity in the window doesn't seem to be a big deal here, just another day in SS :)

Day 29 - October 29, 2013

Short load of yesterdays laundry and then we packed up because we leave for home early in the morning. We managed to get our luggage closed and zipped but not without effort. I was taking any left over spices, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, coffee, etc. so my bag was filled to the max. Went out for some Italian food because after awhile you actually get tired of Pinxtos even  if they are delicious. Took the bus into town and ate at a place that had pretty good reviews. Julie's dish of a tortellini with gargonzola and mushroom sauce was actually pretty good. I had the traditional lasagne because I wasn't sure what they meant by "sausage" here and I know the beef sucks. It was OK if you like sauce that reminds you of Chef Boy R Dee :)

Back to the apt and we nibbled on anything that was left in the fridge and then watched TV for a short time. They show the same thing day in and day out, sorta like home! Cleaned the apt, washed all the towels and hung them outside to dry. Isn't this exciting? Set the alarm that everyone knows will not go off when it's set for so you need to wake up several times to check if you've, God forbid, overslept.

Day 30 - October 30, 2013

The cab is supposed to be outside our door at 5:45 AM but we have a back up plan just in case. I had scouted out the 24 hours a day cab stand and even though I couldn't understand what the drivers were telling me, I finally got it when one of them got out of the car and brought me over to a sign that I think said "Cabs 24 Hours". It also was in Spanish but I understood the "24".

Julie decided to go down the elevator at 5:35 to await the cab. Two people and their luggage don't fit so you have to go down separately. The phone in the apt rings and I'm thinking, "Who the hell is calling at this hour"? It's Julie, the cab is here.  We arrive at the airport 20 minutes later. All is well.

The San Sebastian airport is actually located near the French border and is so small that we believe that the plane lands, let's people off on the runway and then the new passengers board and then it takes off again. There are no other planes parked anywhere! We check our bags and head to security but security isn't open yet, WHAT? The flight is at 7:30 but they don't open till 7? It's a prop plane and there are not too many people boarding. We have row 5. We enter from the rear of the plane and the isle numbers start at 1,2 and so on. Our seats are in row 5 but from the back of the plane, WHAT?

Up we go and it's smooth sailing to Madrid. After a 3 hour layover we board the Airbus and head back home. It was a very smooth flight and the plane seemed newer and had the computers on the back of the seats with TV, movies, games, etc. Couldn't sleep much and walked around the plane several times to get the circulation going. I don't know how Julie can stay in her seat for as long as she does. I was excited because one of the movies was "The Lone Ranger" which I used to watch with my dad way back when. The movie SUCKED! Actually it was beyond SUCKED!

The 2 month vacation ends as we land at O'hare. In retrospect we loved almost everything we did. Lisbon was a very pleasant surprise with it's beauty and convenience of getting around. The people were very helpful and friendly. Can definitely see going back. San Sebastian is a beautiful city but getting around for day trips is a bit of a hassle without a car. The food was outstanding. The original apt was a disappointment but we ended up in one we really liked and got a chance to see "Rear Balcony" :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 27 - Day at La Concha beach

Day 27 - October 27, 2013

The weather forecast was sunny and 77, NOT! It was going to be our last chance to spend time at the beach. After doing several loads of laundry including sheets we walked to the bus station to find that the bus 40 we normally take to get to the area around La Concha beach did not run on Sunday. How many times during our SS portion of this trip has that happened. It's annoying. We figured out that bus 33 would go past our destination so we hopped on. Gray overcast skies took the excitement away from us. We set up and this was our view.

It was breezy enough and with no sun Julie never was able to get down to the bikini I long to see. Nice to be married to a woman that can still wear one and look damn good at 57 :) She puts on her music and lays back to enjoy the tunes while I explore the beach.

Fitness club behind us

This is the house Julie liked if we were ever to move here. Expensive taste!
The Queen of Spain would vacation here. Her own little paradise on the beach.

As the afternoon wore on it was still cloudy and blue skies were not on the menu. Forecast was wrong again! It was nice to just lay back and relax after all the chasing we have done. I decided to take pictures of the sights from the beach. Would be nice if we had those blue skies.

View to south
View to north
The day was rather uneventful but we did get time to chill and do nothing. The end is near as we leave early Wednesday morning for home. Forecast for Mon/Tues is rain and cold with high winds for here.  I mentioned yesterday that the Horror film festival was in town.

Wolfman forgot to take the make up off his back, YIKES!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 26 - Pintxos Crawl

Day 26 - October 26, 2013

At this point of our 2 month vacation we are physically and mentally exhausted, but having a great time. Need to toughen up and get out and about with the good weather. In our apt, there is a Eiffel Tower that holds little forks that you would use for escargot, olives or even to clean a crab leg. It has the coloring of a cow, black and white spots. We are going to walk to old town in SS in search of this to bring home.

We walk through the Gros district, no, it's not a gross district, just the name of the neighborhood we are staying. We find some stores that have all kinds of cutesy gadgets but not what we are looking for. All around Spain you have Chinese people who run a business, not laundry, they are called "Bazar". These stores have everything you could possibly need in the home only very cheap. We searched several of these but only saw pigs and sheep stuff but no cows with forks in the tower. I'll bet this is sounding rather stupid. We are in Spain looking for something that goes with France.

We walk all the way to the old town with no luck. There's always the internet. This is the week of the Horror Film Festival here and we come to the Teatro Principal which is showing some of the horror movies up for nomination. From the looks of the advertisement we have seen, they look like they are from the 50's, strange!

Teatro Principal

All the ghouls have gathered, just in time for Halloween

When we met the couple from Seattle they had told us of a pintxos bar that served mainly seafood pintxos. We found it easily enough and had 3 mussel dishes that had different toppings. A spicy tomato sauce, a cole slaw with vinegarette and the 3rd was a garlic sauce, outstanding! Time to move to our favorite bar in SS.

Seafood heaven!

We enter La Cuchara de San Telmo and the bartender recognizes us right away. I am having the Beef Cheeks and Julie goes for the Risotto which we have not tried. We also order a glass of the sparkling white wine that is famous in this region, Txakoli. Julie has had it but I have not. After finishing of the best beef cheeks imaginable I sip the wine to clean my palette. YUK! I felt like throwing up! Not for me. Julie gladly downs the glass. I won't kiss her for a week (NOT) Her Risotto is good but nothing special. I'm happy as I have had the cheeks again, YUMMY!

We are walking the old town in a grid to see if we spot the Cow spotted Eiffel Tower with forks stuck in it but have no luck. Time to eat a little more. We stop at Borda Berri which is highly rated on Trip Advisor and supposedly they have the best cheeks anywhere. I'll believe that when I taste them!

Borda Berri, our 3rd stop.
We order the cheeks, a kabob which is really ribs and a pepper stuffed with cheeks and surrounded by melted goat cheese. I can't believe what I am experiencing. These cheeks are better than what I have had before, that's not possible! But wait, the pepper stuffed and surrounded is even better than the cheeks, how can this be? The ribs are very good but we should have had them first. I really wish that everyone I know could try the dishes we had here. You wouldn't leave :)

Continued to walk around the old town, our bellies full just soaking the atmosphere in. We come upon a little group that happens to be singing "My way" as we pass by......

Trio minus one
It's been another successful day but we are very tired at this point and head to the bus station because we are not walking anymore. Never did find our Eiffel Cow Fork Tower.

We love Paris and live in Wisconsin. What could be better? STOP LAUGHING AT US :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 25 - Back to St Jean De Luz

Day 25 - October 25, 2013

Terry here:

I get up at 4:45 so I can have coffee, read up on the sports from the night before and then take care of the 3 S's. Off to the bus station to catch the 5:50 bus to SS. Normally the bus comes by every 6-10 minutes. I realize that I have been sitting there for 15 minutes and I have not seen any buses at all. You can't walk anywhere in SS without constantly seeing a bus. Something doesn't seem right. I wait another 5 minutes and nothing. Are they on strike?

I start to walk back to the apt and then think, what the hell, I'll walk. I am walking at a good clip and notice that if I kick it up a notch, I might still catch the original 6:45 metro to Hendeye. I pick up the pace again. I can see the station and marvel at the fact that it took only 22 minutes to arrive. I have 8 minutes until it leaves, I'm Happy :) The machine excepts real money and I get my ticket and head for the train when I see over 100 teenagers milling around, some drunk, some stoned and it's only
6:40 AM? I look up at the displays to see which track the 6:45 is on and there isn't one listed. I rub my eyes and look again. The next train to Hendeye is listed at 7:15, WHAT? We took the 6:45 2 days ago, why isn't it running today??? Here we go, walk up to the conductor dude and in my best Spanish, I ask, Habla Ingles?  He says no, figures!  He calls over another guy and I ask him why no 6:45. He says it's a festive, WHAT? He can tell by the dumb look on my face that I don't understand so he says. Sunday schedule, WHAT? It's Friday. Turns out it is some kind of holiday here and that will mean that everything is closed, more on that later.

I'm watching all the teens milling around and am realizing that if they are going to Hendeye, I will have to beat them to the exit and into the line ahead of them to purchase tickets to SJDL. I'll show them!

Every stop the metro makes I hope they all get off. Where could they be going at this hour? They should be in school or sleeping. A couple get on and sit across from me and after a while they ask me if I speak English, WHAT? I say yes and we start to talk and I ask where are they from and he answers Nigeria, Cool! I tell them how I always wanted a Cheetah cub and they laugh, at me? Anyway,  we pull into Irun (last stop in Spain) and all the teens head for the exits, Yeah!

Finally we get to Hendeye and I am right at the exit for the race to the ticket line. I jump off and beat everyone and then get another surprise. The next train to SJDL doesn't leave until 9:30, it's 8:00, SHIT!  Must be the Sunday schedule. Tickets in hand I decide to across the street to a Boulangerie (now in France) and get a croissant. I look in the window and they are setting up so I assume they aren't open yet. A local passes by and walks right in, DOH! Get my goodies and head back to the train station for my long wait.

While sitting on a bench along the tracks I notice a cop coming my way. I look around and I am the only one sitting outside. I say "Bon Jour" and he starts talking to me as if I have a clue as to what he is saying. He makes some hand gestures and I ask him "Parlez vous, englais"? He says no and radios someone and gestures for me to stay seated. What the hell is going on?  I'm eating my croissant and not bothering anyone. Another cop comes up and talks to the first guy and then asks me for my passport. I freeze, SHIT! I didn't bring it with. I pull out my drivers license and explain that my passport is in the apt in SS. He lectures me on having my passport with me at all times and then proceeds to ask what seemed like 82 questions. Finally he says it's OK and they leave. I laugh because I know that when I tell Julie this story I will get a very big "I TOLD YOU SO"!!!! Felt like I was grilled for an hour but only 10 minutes has passed.

Board the train to SJDL and 12 minutes later I'm off and in the Avis office to retrieve my GPS mount that we left attached to the windshield in the rental car.  Half hour later and I am back on the train to Hendeye when 4 other guys sit around me. I am the only person in the front car, why are they sitting right next to me?  3 of them have uniforms from SNCF, a train company in Europe and the other guy boarded the train with me. They all know each other and as the train pulls out for our 10 minute journey, one of them starts to tell a story, in French, so I have no idea what they are talking about. They all laugh which causes me to laugh, nods all around and the story teller makes a gesture and I assume tells the punchline and they all laugh, I laugh too! The guy next to me slaps my thigh and shakes his head and we both laugh. They think I was listening and could understand them, NOT! They have no idea that I am just playing along. We come to the only stop between SJDL and Hendeye and 2 get off. The other 3 are still talking and laughing so I keep laughing with them only I am laughing at the situation, not a joke that I can't understand. Hendeye arrives and we all nod and say our goodbyes, Au Revoir!

Catch the bus which is now running and head back home to realize that all the stores are closed and we have very little liquor in the house. I panic and go searching. I remember a little ma and pa store that I passed yesterday while looking for the Cassis and they are open. I stock up and tell them how much I appreciate the fact that they are open to blank stares because they can't understand a word I say. Hasta Luego!

I am going to sit on my Ass after my 6 hour trip that should have taken 3. Time for cocktails, seems like the theme of our vacation :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 24 - Lazy day!

Day 24 - October 24, 2013

Terry here:

After our trip through the Pyrenees Villages and having several cocktails on our balcony we were beat up. It is going to be a lazy day. Julie is working on the blog and I am just walking around feeling extremely tired. Did some laundry. Wrote some more reviews for Trip Advisor. Took a nap, BORING!

Decided to try and find a bottle of Cassis and some cider. Cider is mostly produced in the Basque area and especially San Sebastian. Hit 3 grocery stores and found all kinds of cider but no Cassis. Started walking towards a busier area of our neighborhood not being able to read the signs to see if I could find a liquor store. There are none that I know of.

I see something happen that reminds me of a story we forgot to tell while in St Jean De Luz. While Julie was browsing a shoe store I noticed a 3 year old girl with no pants on being held by the arms and swinging between her mothers legs. Turns out she is practicing for when to pee. I can't help but watch not knowing what is going on until she starts to pee only when swinging away from mom. This is between 2 parked cars. Swing out, pee. Swing back, don't pee. Bizarre!

Today while on my journey I happen to see a 2-3 year old pulling her undies back up and after I pass, I glance back and the undies are totally off and she is peeing between 2 cars. I should have said "European"? (sic)

I need to find someone who speaks English to get directions to where I can Purchase Cassis. I round a corner and smile. Right in front of me is a bar that we hit on our Pintxos crawl and the bartender speaks English. He's never heard of Cassis but says to go over a block and down one and there is a Vino store that has some liqueurs. I go there and luckily she speaks English. I ask if she has it and she laughs and says no but she likes it with Champagne, BINGO! She directs me to another store that turns out to be an actual liquor store with many extras. I find the Cassis and also get a bottle of cider. I am happy. Walk back to apt and Julie and I have a glass to loud music coming from an apt that is to our right and down two floors.

We look and see a guy smoking a joint dancing on the balcony naked! He is swinging his arms as if conducting the awful music he has on and his junk is doing the same. We laugh and then go back inside. Julie is chatting via the internet with Sandy about her mother and I decide to crash because I am going back to St Jean De Luz to retrieve our GPS mount that we left in the car.

Day 23 - Driving in the Pyrenees

Day 23 - October 23, 2013

It was a very early start to our day.  We were out of the apartment at 5:40 AM to catch the 6:03 AM bus to Boulevard.  From there we had to walk about 20 minutes to the San Sebastian Metro because there were no buses running to there at this time of morning and we were going to take the 6:45 AM to Hendaye, France .  At Hendaye we would switch to the TER Aquitaine train to get us to Saint Jean de Luz in order to get to Avis Rental Car when they opened.  After we purchased the metro tickets from the machine, another couple who happened to be from the states asked us to explain how the machine works.  They were headed to Bordeaux and going to Hendaye, France as well to catch their train.  It was nice to finally get to talk English for a while.  They happened to also be from Chicago but now live in Seattle.  Found out that two of us were born at the same hospital.  What are the chances of that?  Sometimes the people you meet in the most unlikely place is really meant to be. The trip on the metro was 40 minutes but it seemed like 10 because we were trading traveling stories and found out that we had been to many of the same places and experienced the same type of mistakes along the way. We laughed a lot and really liked them. Once we arrived at Hendaye, our train to St. Jean de Luz was leaving in 10 minutes and they would be waiting for theirs to Bordeaux in a few hours.  We told one another how nice it was to meet and then said our goodbyes.

We arrived at St. Jean de Luz at 8 AM and Avis didn't open until 8:30.  So, we went across the street to a little cafe and both had a croissant and I had a coffee.  After we ate, I saw that Avis was now open.  Under the tunnel to cross the street to Avis, we went to start our journey in the Pyrenees.  Of course things didn't go smoothly.  My credit card was getting rejected at Avis so I had to call to get it fixed.  Apparently they had a fraud hold on it because I forgot to inform them of our trip to Europe.  Squared that away, and after asking for and receiving a Renault Clio as a tribute to our neighbors back home, it was about a half  hour before we got into the car.   Now it was a matter of navigating around and understanding the vehicle, neither of which are easy when you're in another country.  Let the arguing begin!

We weren't driving for five minutes and IT started because we didn't understand the signs at the roundabout. In Europe, everything is mostly marked toward a city direction, not road numbers.  We had the GPS with us too.  But both of us were flustered because Terry is concentrating on driving the stick shift and watching where he's driving and I'm looking out for the signs while the voice on the GPS is aggravating me.  We get through the roundabout and start heading toward our first little town, Col d'Ibardin.  It's located high in the mountains where you can see a spectacular panoramic view looking down on  Saint Jean de Luz, Hendaye, Bairritz, and Bayonne, all in the distance.  Somehow, we missed a turn off  because we ended up in Irun which is on the other side of Hendaye.  You can imagine the arguing at this point. I'm still watching the signs and listening to the GPS which is directing us on the expressway.  We're both freaking out because now we have a toll and we have no clue of the amount or how it works. Terry panics and pulls over to the side of the road. I see a booth and direct Terry there because the other lanes are an I-Pass.  He starts yelling because no one is in the booth.  We pull up and it's automatic cash and the amount is listed, 1.70 Euros.  We scrounge through the coins and finally put it in the slot and on our way we go.  The map I had to follow is not very clear so I decided to let the GPS do it's job.  Our destination was entered in so she was taking us there. Turns out she first took us back to where we started, are you laughing yet? We had been in the car for an hour and not at our first destination yet but now on the right track.  As we followed the GPS route, we could see the signs to Col d'Ibardin and were climbing in the mountain.  It was really high up with a lot of hairpin turns and drop-offs and with the sun in our eyes we had a few near misses with either a car or wall but the scenery was beautiful.

Arriving at Col d'Ibardin, everything was uphill and we easily found free parking. This little village sits on a ridge and if you go to the right you look down on the cities and ocean and if you go left you see more of the Pyrenees including La Rhune. Whew, we made it!  Here are some photos with fantastic views from up there, though some are a bit hazy because of the lighting of the morning sun.

Sign and symbol of the village of Ibardin

The lush forest area for picnics and camping

Looking out on St. Jean de Luz

Viewing the coastline

The surrounding Pyrenees
View of La Rhune where the Petit Train takes you up this mountain

After taking these photos, we walked through the village with it's unique little shops. 

The only street in the village.  We parked at the top.

A large liquor store, Cave a Whisky

A souvenir shop selling guns??

The little mall of Ibardin

Horses freely gazing along the hillside

It was time to move on to our next destination, Ainhoa.  Driving along we come up to a turn in the  mountain where sheep were walking along the roadside.  Had to stop for a photo op.

We were also able to get photos of the surrounding hillsides up here.

Beautiful isn't it?  So lush and green.  We drove through the village of Sare where the La Rhune Petit Train begins, and it was quite crowded.  We went to Col d'Ibardin instead to get the same views without the expense of the train and uncertain running times it had.  Continuing on , we are now heading toward our last destination of Espelette instead of Ainhoa because the GPS has a mind of it's own.  I explained to Terry that there's no difference in going to Espelette first and then to Ainhoa.  They're pretty close together.  The problem is that Miss GPS is not telling us to turn at points where she should.  Don't know why that's happening. So now I'm back to reading the signs and the map.

We get to Espelette which is such a cute little village.  It is known for it's pepper, Piment d'Espelette, that makes wonderful seasonings and sauces.  Most of the village is in colors of white and red.

Store in Espelette where we bought our spice and veal sauce

One of the homes in Espelette with peppers to last a lifetime

 Now it was time for us to get something to eat.  We found a little restaurant that had reasonable pricing and a good variety.  I had Cassoulet of Veal and Terry ordered the Confit de Cunard (duck).  Mine was really tasty and Terry's duck leg was so tender it fell off the bone.  Both dishes were served with french fries that taste better than ours in the states.  At least we think so.  I ordered a glass of red wine and Terry tried a Basque Kir.  It's a drink made with Basque cider (with alcohol content) and Creme de Cassis (a black currant liqueur).  It was fantastic.

Labea Restaurant

Shops in Espelette

It was now a little after 2:00 PM and we still had one more destination to get to, Ainhoa.  We were feeling more comfortable with the directions and the GPS now so we knew we had enough time to get the car back by 5:30 when Avis closed.  All these villages are within 5 - 10 minutes of each other  (Of course, the first one wasn't because of all the mess ups with the direction signs and the GPS).  Terry was driving more normal now too.  He was even passing other cars that were going to slow.

Ainhoa was the easiest to find and the smallest of the villages. They had a free parking lot behind a church and we knew we would only be here for no more than about twenty minutes.  Almost everything was closed by the time we arrived.  We parked the car and were able to get some more beautiful pictures of the surrounding countryside.

Walking out of the parking lot we head toward the church located on the main street of Ainhoa.

Our Lady of the Assumption, built in the 13th century

From the church we walked along the main street.  Ainhoa has received an award from the organization called the Most Beautiful Villages in France in order to promote tourism in small villages like it.

The Town Hall

The main street

View of the hillside looking down a side street

We walked to the end of the street which only took about 5 minutes and then turned around to head back to the car.  All of a sudden on our left, we noticed a shop sign with a gingerbread man on it.  Curiosity got the better of us and we walked up to it.  Turns out, Ainhoa is noted for it's famous gingerbread and spice cake.  And guess what?  The store was open!  They had a few different varieties but we stuck to the classic one.  It was bit expensive, 6.60 Euros for a pound, but we splurged anyway to get a taste of the novelty of the village to bring back. 

Back to the parking lot we went to start our way back to Avis in Saint Jean de Luz.  Keyed in the destination in the GPS and off we went.  It was my turn to take a try at taking pictures from the car.  Got a couple of good ones, especially the corn, but I was fumbling with the others because we were moving so fast.  Terry was the brave one driving now, a far cry from how he started off.

More beautiful countryside
Corn that looks like ours

We arrived back at Avis at the St. Jean de Luz train station at 4:30 PM to return the car.  Luckily enough we were able to park it right in front because trying to find their other lot would have been a nightmare.  Now we would be back to the apartment by 6:00 PM.  All we needed to do was catch the train from St. Jean de Luz to Hendaye, and then the metro from Hendaye to San Sebastian.  Total time was about 50 minutes.

SCNF Train Station in Saint Jean de Luz

Everything was going smoothly until Julie tried to buy our train tickets. There was a line to the window to purchase so we went to the machine. Changed language to English and pushed all the right buttons and then it wouldn't take cash so we fumbled around to get a credit card out for all of $6.60. We get the card out and the machine times out so we start over again. This time we are ready with the credit card only to be denied, WTF? Another try and now we are frustrated again. Why won't the card work? I call Chase and they tell us that the problem is within France, they show no attempt to make a purchase. Now Terry is talking loud and fast and swearing at France in general. He tells me to go outside and he enters the now longer line. He is able to get tickets but not without letting the sales woman know how he feels. No harm done, she can't understand him. Off we go, finally!

Arriving in San Sebastian, we were able to get the bus closer to the metro to get to the apartment because at this time of day more buses were running.  Once back, we sat on the deck and started laughing about the whole driving experience we had. Had a piece of the gingerbread spice cake and it was worth every penny.  We wished we had bought the bigger one.  It was a great day with breathtaking scenery, good food, and unique souvenirs to bring back with us.

Was also back in time before my mom went into surgery back home.  I was able to keep in contact with my daughter on how everything was going.  All went very well and I was relieved.  We would talk in the morning and be able to video chat with my mom as well.  A very happy ending to a wonderful day!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 22 - Our Day in Lekeitio

Day 22 - October 22, 2013

This afternoon it was a trip to Lekeitio, Spain, another small fishing village within the Basque Country of Spain.  Again there were two bus options, one that would be the quickest using the expressway to get there, or the longer coastal route.  We chose the later.  Unfortunately there wasn't  much coastal scenery until we got to the village just before Lekeitio.  The route did take us through some mountainous areas bordering the coast.  Our bus driver was a very pleasant guy and  experienced at this route because there were many winding, narrow turns and parts where he would squeeze through some enclosed passageways just barely missing the wall or side of a mountain.  We both were gasping at these points of the drive.  It was a cloudy day but temperature wise very pleasant. 

Looking back along the coastline as we drive to Lekeitio
Piers and docks at the village before Lekeitio

The port of Lekeitio, Spain
Arriving at the bus station  in Lekeitio, we notice that the village is like a ghost town.  It's around
4PM and if we saw 30 people, that was a lot.  We first made a call to Avis in St. Jean de Luz to reserve a car for our day trip in the Pyrenees tomorrow.  That was easy enough.  So we got our bearings and started walking to the village center and port down the main street.  As we walked, we came upon a grocery store that we stopped in to see if we could fine the cosmetic here that my daughter wanted me to get.  We both kind of laughed because this town is so small but stranger things have happened.  Sure enough, they had it  and the color she wanted and it was 1 Euro cheaper than in San Sebastian where they didn't have her shade.  Couldn't believe we found it here.  Now that's done finally.  We asked the woman cashier where the Italian restaurant/pizzeria that Terry found recommended on Trip Advisor was.  She told us it was by the port but most restaurants were closed now until 8 PM.  Oh, there's a surprise.  She recommended another smaller place that was a bar that serves pintxos and somewhat directed us there speaking only Spanish.  Well, we couldn't find it so we just decided to walk to the port.  There wasn't much of a town center, in fact, the port was probably it.  On our way we came to a very prominent looking church located at the entrance to the docks by the port.  It was quite massive for such a small village.

Main street in Lekeitio heading toward the port

Basilica of La Asunción de Santa María

Detailed elaborate entrance to the church
Back of the church

From here we proceed to the large plaza at the port which was right ahead of us.  It's a quaint looking area with colorful buildings and boats of all kinds.  The village is surrounded by rolling hills and a small island right in the port.  The hillside is beautiful. The island is pretty bare and really not much to look at.  The trees on it even look a bit dreadful.

Colorful buildings lining the port

The dock of fishing and pleasure boats

The rolling hillside surrounding the port

Edge of the hillside

The island in the middle of the port.  Notice the scraggly trees I mentioned

We had been here now about an hour and were a little hungry.  It was 5 PM and our bus wasn't due back until 7 PM so we had two hours with nothing much to do. Still hadn't seen many people, but we found a little "Irish" pub, Willows Tavern, that was open and still serving food.    We sat down and ordered a couple of beers and two smaller plates of food.  I had an Iberico ham and cheese plate, while Terry tried a fish special they had which was squid, cooked in the black squid ink sauce that had a clam taste to it.  It was actually very good even though it may not have looked appealing.  As we ate our food, looking at all the boats docked at the port, we were wondering what these people could possibly do for a living here.  All of a sudden we noticed more people walking through the dock area.  Most were men, and of the women, most were pregnant.  I guess that's what they do.

Willows tavern (center) located next to the bar at the far left in the picture
One of the large fishing boats docked in port

Small fishing boats docked among the pleasure boats

We still had quite some time until the bus came, so I called my mom to see how she was doing.  She indicated she was fine, that's good, and that they were going to possibly do surgery tomorrow or the next day depending on how the new antibiotics they gave her were doing.  We talked for about twenty minutes and it made me feel better about the situation.

Now it was about 6:15 PM and Terry and I made our way leisurely back to the bus station.  Once there at 6:45 PM, the bus was already waiting there and it was the same bus driver!  We left at 7, and  it seemed as if he was flying back to San Sebastian.  It was now getting dark and he was taking those close turns again within inches!!    Made it back to the apartment around 8:30 PM and we were a bit tired. Found out that my mom was definitely having the surgery tomorrow.  I'm not happy about not being there with her but know my daughter is handling things very well in my absence.  She keeps us informed of everything and would let us know if we really need to come home.  At this point, everything is under control and that makes me sleep  better at night.  We had to get up early the next morning for our day trip to the Pyrenees in the French Basque Country tomorrow that we were looking forward to.  It was going to be a great day weather wise too. I also didn't have to worry about my mom because we would be back at the apartment before the surgery would start.

In conclusion, Lekeitio is a nice little village but really not much to see or do there.  In our opinion, Getaria is a much better choice.