Saturday, July 12, 2014

The slightly faded charm of Biarritz

From Santiago de Compostela our next destination was Biarritz, a convenient half-way stop on our trip home. What we hadn't taken into account was the number of detours from the autopiste in Spain due to construction. We seemed to spend hours in these dusty detours resulting in a much longer trip that we had planned.

Finally we arrived in the famous old seaside town, Biarritz. After checking into our hotel we immediately went to the number one Trip advisor restaurant just around the corner. I ordered the sole meunière. When it came it was as tough as an old boot and I should have returned it but I was hungry. After I had pried it off the bone the taste was all right. When the meal was over the server, who spoke perfect English asked if we had enjoyed our meal. I told her about the toughness. Funny, she didn't understand that particular word in English, however a Swedish lady at the next table translated for me. The server went off to check what the problem was and reported back that the fish had been in the fridge one day too long. Horrors! She didn't charge for our coffee and gave us and our neighbours free aperitifs. But still this was the number one restaurant.

The next morning is was very dark and grey. We had breakfast on the front and ran into the bad service that the French used to have a reputation for. Basically, the server brought what she thought we ordered but she hadn't listened. How complicated can two cappuccinos, 2 croissants and one orange juice be. Even our French is up to that. This is something that we never encounter when we are in France. Once we had what we ordered we set off to explore the town.

If you close your eyes and think of old, tired looking seaside towns you will be picturing Biarritz. By now it was raining quite heavily but we walked along to the Eugenie Palace built by Napoleon III for his wife. Biarritz was the summer home to French, Russian and even British Royalty including Queen Victoria and Edward VII. We found our hotel and the restaurant prices expensive for what you got. To anyone thinking of visiting there I would suggest you go to San Sebastián, 20 kilometres down the road. It is much nicer, more fun, better food and much, much nicer beaches. It was a sandy beach in Biarritz but quite coarse sand.

We did walk around the old port, which is very tidal. When we were there all the boats were very low down on the wall but we could see that if we came at high tide the boats would be about fifteen feet higher. From here we climbed a hill to look over the coast. On our way back to the hotel we found some narrow streets lined with some interesting shops. Ryanair must fly here from Ireland, since they seemed to be filled with a lot of Irish families.

Early the next morning we headed off, glad to leave Biarritz. We didn't even have breakfast but stopped on the road. Thankfully, it was a much shorter day on the highway before our final destination, home.

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