Sunday, July 25, 2010

La Vie en Rose

Up at 5 am to get to the airport. Dark and 27 degrees. Simple metro system in Athens. 3 lines. Number 3 goes to the airport. Easy. We got there with plenty of time and our Olympic Air plane stayed in the sky.

Charles de Gaule is big and dirty and there aren't anywhere near enough seats. We spent far too much time here. When the flight timetables changed for our second flight we had 5 1/2 hours between flights so had hoped to blast into Paris for the day. Alas, it was not to be. We couldn't check our luggage in early and so two hours were wasted while we tried to find out where the luggage store was. Four people gave us three different answers. By the time we found the right place, and the line, we would have had about an hour and a half in Paris, sandwiched between 45minute train rides, plus baggage collection lines at the end of the day. So we were faced with a four hour wait. We found: expensive water, a severe lack of seating and a lot of Africans. I guess with so many French-speaking countries in Africa, it must be a popular destination. We also found the Eiffel Tower:

We saw the real thing as we took off in our orange EasyJet plane. We arrived in Biarritz after a very long day.

First impressions have been pretty exciting. It's so green here compared to Greece. Still very hilly though. The drive from the airport was through lush fields and leafy green trees. Our hotel is a find! We are right in le centre-ville (town centre) above a surprisingly quiet pub. Plus we have double glazed windows which makes Jim a very happy boy.

We can see the ocean from the street outside our hotel! All the little shops and cafes are right outside and an epicurie (delicatessen) is on the other side of the road. So exciting!
We went to the markets this morning and will have to go back for the marinated artichokes and to take some photos. It is quintessentially french.

We are still on Greek time where people don't eat breakfast until almost lunchtime, but here lunch was well and truly on at 11am. The tapas was out along with the wine. Our breakfast adventure this morning involved trying to buy spoons in the supermarket using mime and eating Special K and raspberries out of yoghurt cups. But we did it overlooking the beach.
We even shared with these little guys:
This one has probably had enough.
Last night we had Le formule (set menu) along with complimentary mulled wine, overlooking the ocean. A dude walked past with his surfboard in his wetsuit as we ate. It was 10pm. Still just light. Imagine the hours of surfing you could get in after work!

After brekkie, we walked from Grande Plage (where all the tourists go and a surfer's nightmare)
To the little port. Crazy walled in pens. A miniature dock where you need to get your boat out through the hole in the walls to go out to sea. I assume it protects the boats from damaging swell - not that there's any today.

The sailing club
Just a short walk south of us is le Plage de la cote des Basques, where they hold the women's longboarding comp. Far less crowded and EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!
We sussed out some options for board hire and wetsuit hire (water is about 21 degrees here) and will hopefully go out tomorrow. Not that crowded at all considering it's Saturday and Summer. A number of the hire places only hire for the low tide. We're hoping this is when the waves get good as it was very fat and very small when we were there for a look today. A massive retaining wall separates the water from the road and shops and during high tide, no sand is exposed at all. People instead sunbake along the retaining wall!!
 First beef in ages
It is very laid back here and we will be here for 2 weeks. We are looking forward to getting in the grove, improving our non-existent French and finding our way around.    

It's so much cooler than Greece. Low twenties today, sunny and we don't feel like we're being crisped. This is the beach at the end of our street:
Plage port-vieux.