Thursday, January 05, 2012

Holiday in Northern Spain/ France September 2011

This year we decided that we would take the ferry down to Bilbao in Northern Spain and spend a few days there before driving up to our place in France. It’s only a 6 hour journey from the ferry port in Bilbao all the way up to near La Rochelle in the Vendee. The ferry journey itself was a full 24 hours but quite enjoyable.

We spent the first night in Bilbao, on the outskirts and spent the evening drinking beer and eating tapas- or ‘Pintxos’ as they call it in the Basque Country- in various bars and pubs. We had a great time and got rather drunk- so no photos I’m afraid! I do have 2 pictures actually, the first is of some graffiti we spotted that looked great and the other is of the river that ran through where the hotel was.

Then we drove on up to San Sebastian and on to a place called Hendaye which is right on the border between France and Spain. The roads in Northern Spain are unbelievable. They are really very twisty and winding and constantly up and down hills and mountains. The drivers were quite impatient and stupid too, often overtaking us or trucks on uphill, hairpin bends! Ridiculous!

We decided we’d stay and camp at a site in Hendaye. The beach there was just stunning. It was a surfing beach though so no swimming for me. It was constantly filled with surfers- the waves were so rough and big! We actually managed to run the beach twice in the few days we were there. We ran barefoot in the wet sand and it was just lovely. It was about 3.5 miles in total.

Here are a few of my favourite pictures of the beach.

Hendaye Beach

Hendaye Beach

Hendaye beach

I love these dusk shots:

Hendaye Beach sunset

Hendaye beach dusk

This picture is of 2 tiny wading birds, dippers I think, that I spotted sheltering from the violent surf on the rocks at the beach.


Just across the river from Hendaye, about 5 minutes by car, there was Spain. It was much livelier on their side and I much preferred it over there. My Spanish is fluent but my French really isn’t… The town we visited most was called Hondarribia and had a beautiful little beach that was a complete contrast to the French side. As it was between two groins the water was dead still- just like Mediterranean waters. We managed to spend 1 day there when the weather was scorching and not windy and I got to get in and swim a fair bit. Well, I can’t really call it swimming, more like flailing around!

Here is the beautiful beach.





One day we decided to drive down to Pamplona, where they do the running of the bulls in the San Fermin festival.

Pamplona itself is quite a beautiful city. We enjoyed our day out. We spent all day walking around taking photographs in the sun. They had beautiful parks there filled with peacocks and other exotic birds. It was really a great place to visit.

Pamplona view

Door artwork pamplona

Pamplona Streets

Pamplona main Plaza


Pamplona Plaza de Toros

Pamplona calles

We also took a day trip to a place called San Sebastian. It is one of the famous Basque Country cities and was a very beautiful place. It is steeped in history due to it’s strategic location. It has a huge fort up on the hill and it’s a great walk.
Here are some pictures from San Sebastian.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian from Fort

Fort at San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

View of san Sebastian

After 4 days or so we decided to head on up the coast back to our place in France. We stopped at Biarritz (they call it the Monaco of the West coast of France) along the way and took some beautiful photos of the coastline, stopping at other coves and bays also.



When we got back up to our place in Mervent we were astonished to see the low level of the dam fed lake/ river system there. We have never seen it so low. Once every few years they near enough dry out the lake for some reason- obviously due to managing it right but I’m not sure of the specifics.

Here are a couple of pictures showing the low level. I have posted a couple of old pictures underneath to show you the difference.

Mervent Lake from Randos

Mervent Lake low level

Mervent Lake drained

How the lake is normally:

full lake 2

full lake

This last picture is of a sunrise one morning at our little house. I woke up and looked out the window and literally jumped up to get my camera and out the door to capture this. I had not seen this there before, just the sunset. It was beautiful and the picture really doesn’t do it as much justice as it deserved.

Sunrise at my house

Anyway, these are my favourite pictures from our holiday in September 2011 but I have plenty more up on my Flickr page. See you soon with more photos!