Bilbao, Spain

Posted by Pat on October 21, 2019 in Travel |

19-20 October 2019

Traversing the southwestern region of France and getting to my destination in Spain taught me a new lesson: train travel in Europe is not perfect. I found it convoluted and less than direct to get from Bayonne, France through San Sebastián and on to the Basque city of Bilbao. Distances are not that much but there seems to be no easy, direct public transport. And, add to that an unannounced SNCF strike, cancelled trains and late TVGs, we pretty much have a long, ugly transportation day ahead.

Aboard Euskotren to Bilbao

We travel by a TGV train from Bayonne, past Biarritz south to the border at Hendaye. There, a blue Euskotren metro will take us to the Amara station in San Sebastián. Because I would like to proceed on to Bilbao, we connect with another Euskotren to Bilbao’s Zazpikaleak station. Making it more palatable is the scenery of mountains both low and tall, deep ravines, rocky streams, trees beginning to show fall colors, glimpses of blue bays, and countless charming family gardens. More than eight hours and about 110 miles later, we arrive in Bilbao.

Take me to a Pintxos bar and a glass of Rioja!

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Bayonne and Biarritz, France

Posted by Pat on October 19, 2019 in Travel |

17-18 October 2019

It is a pleasant, slightly misty, train ride through southwestern France. We arrive in Bayonne, a smallish city situated where the rivers Nive from the south and the wider Adour from the Atlantic meet. Just above the train station are the remains of the historic citadel, our hotel is just across the street. We have entered Basque country and look forward to local cuisine.

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Exploring Right and Left – Bordeaux Wine Trails

Posted by Pat on October 16, 2019 in Travel |

14-15 October 2019

About twenty miles north on the “Left Bank” of the Dordogne and Gironde Rivers, I learn my first lesson in French wines. It is pretty much “crickets” around here in mid-October. My first destination should not be a chateau but a tourism office.

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Bordeaux, A City With a Well-Earned Reputation

Posted by Pat on October 16, 2019 in Travel |

12-16 October 2019

One mentions Bordeaux and one immediately thinks “wine.” There is so much more!

There were several statistics which prove we are in the right city. There are almost 300,000 acres of grape vines planted in the 65 appellations of Bordeaux. Over 8500 winegrowers and 300 trading houses produce and sell almost one billion bottles of wine each year. Ninety percent of this wine is red while just 10% is white. Bordeaux is definitely my kind of place!

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Le Mont-Saint-Michel

Posted by Pat on October 13, 2019 in Travel |

11 October 2019

I visited this historic site in the spring of 1980. At that time, the climb to the top and visit of the cathedral was pleasant and uncrowded. Times have changed but, because I am in the neighborhood, I have returned to climb again, wander its streets, and spend some quiet time enjoying the views from its magnificent abbey.

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Saint-Malo, France

Posted by Pat on October 13, 2019 in Travel |

11 October 2019

I may have left my tears in Normandy, but I definitely left my heart in Saint-Malo.

I drove past it’s huge port with fishing boats, yachts and catamarans, but once over their hydronic lift bridge, Saint-Malo begins to shine. Saint-Malo is an historic French port in Brittany on the Channel coast. On a clear day, I can see the south coast of the Normandy peninsula. And there are plenty of opportunities to gaze out over their turquoise and blue waters doing just that. The Malouins are lucky people. Read more…

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Bayeux, France

Posted by Pat on October 12, 2019 in Travel |

8 October 2019

What Caen lacked in charm is more than made up for by the city of Bayeux. Unlucky Caen suffered heavy bombardment, destroying over 70% of its buildings; Bayeux was one of the few Normandy towns completely spared from destruction. It remains a beautiful historic city with cobblestone streets to wander and charming architecture to appreciate.

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