Holy Mackerel!

After leaving the Cognac area just the other day, we cruised down the coast to the Dune du Pilat.  This is an amazing enormous sand dune, the largest in Europe.  It currently stands at 110 meters above sea level or 330 feet.  Pilat is 2.7 km (1.68 miles) in length from North to South.  That’s a lot of sand!  It was very windy up there so we didn’t hang out for too long.  Only one euro to park beneath it for up to 4 hours!  We recommend going in warmer weather so you can hike down and swim in the ocean.  This was a quick stop and then we were off to Ustaritz!  Ustaritz is well located for a trip to this region if you have a car.  It is 25 minutes to Bayonne, Biarritz, and Saint Jean de Luz and 15 minutes to Espelette.  Also if you wanted to dip into Spain it is less than one hour to Donostia.  We stayed in a funky little cabin behind our hosts home.  We had a great patio for grilling and watching the lizards crawl by: Our first destination was Saint Jean de Luz for some views and foods.We were just in time for the running of the children:The Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste in Saint Jean de Luz is where Louis XIV was married to Maria Theresa of Spain.  The doorway from which they left the church as man and wife was sealed some time after the marriage so no one else could use it.There are great food markets all over this area.  In France they are typically held in the mornings and are located at “Les Halles”.  When you cross the border into Spain look for them as “Mercado”.  We bought some food for later at the market in Saint Jean de Luz:Luckily for us we decided on a whim to drive from Saint Jean De Luz to Sare and then onto Espelette.  Everyone should do this drive!!!!  Or better yet, bike it if you have the means.  The area is so beautiful with so many fantastic views:Bikers photographing llamas or alpacas en route to Sare:Sare:Just out of town we wanted to go into this cave at Les Grottes de Sare:These young men stopped us however and were quite insistent that we not go in, so unfortunately we had to leave:Before we left we did get to see this partially excavated ancient burial ground, and the lizard that now lives there:Then another lovely drive to Espelette!Espelette is home to the deliciously spicy pepper Piment d’Espelette which hang proudly about town on the traditionally red and white Basque style buildings: This tree loves this sign nom,nom,nom:Day 3 in Basque country or Euskal Herria and we were off to Biarritz for a beach day.  There were tons of surfers and epic views!  We actually went in the ocean even though the cold was gasp worthy.Where’s Alex?There was a great sunset after dinner too:The next day we arrived in Spain! “Yaaaay, we’re in Spaaain!”:We spent most of the day in San Sebastian (Donostia).  We had a great lunch or linner, since that is all people seem to eat around here, at the Bodegon Alejandro by the Mercado de la Brexta.  Here are some great shots from the market, they really know how to display fish around here!:Our lunch included these interesting potato chip-like things that were shaped like little pillows!  We tried to find out how they did it… but we didn’t really understand the explanation, oh well!We also had the best potato croquettes of all time:Caramelized french toast with cheese ice cream:This thing:And this little cookie box that came with the coffee!  As you may have noticed in the other shots, we also had a wine pairing with our meal and I’m not sure it wasn’t too much wine…Then to the beach!  The water was still too cold but it was 80 degrees and sunny.  There is a large statue of Jesus in the background which looks over the city.  Just beneath the statue is the aquarium which we plan on stopping at when we return to San Sebastian over the weekend:We then drove to where we are staying near Ispaster.  The drive took us on the coastal route which would have been terrifying in the dark and was merely harrowing in the bright warm sunshine.  I didn’t get any pictures of the sea cliff portion of this drive because I ran out of battery:Our new digs in Ispaster:There is one dog here and one ferocious miniature Spanish land otter:

Phew!  That was a big one, see you in a few days… 😉

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