Monday, August 10, 2009

flying trip to Spain

Still at the exorbitant café so still rushing ... If yesterday was Sunday, it must have been Spain. Michele took me on a flying visit - we'd thought of going to Bilbao but it was just too far, so we went instead to the small fishing villages along the north coast, the Cote Basque, near France. It is extraordinary to cross from one country to another with only a little sign to greet you, and suddenly there you are, everything is in Spanish.

We stopped in Hontarrabia to walk in the old village and sit on the avenue of plane trees watching the walkers after the mass, families gathered to eat grilled sardines and calamari and jabber at full volume. As Michele pointed out, Spaniards are much noisier than the French - all talking very fast at once, and if possible with loud brass bands in the background, or guitars. Saw lots of Basque costumes - beret, scarves, old-fashioned tied leggings - and a few large signs calling for independence, which is still a big issue in Spain though not in France.

We stopped a bit later in a bigger fishing village - don't have my map here and have forgotten the name - for a full lunch with scores of Spaniards doing the same thing. On the menu were "scorpion fish pudding, nape of hake and tournedos with garnishing," but we opted for calamari in ink sauce and grilled fish. Delicious, and the coffee was sublime. We watched the fishing boats go out and I realised - these are the ones that go to Newfoundland - the enemy of the Newfoundlanders. In fact, the village next to Hossegor here is Cap-Breton, from which many fish boats go to Nova Scotia - so surely this is where the name Cape Breton comes from. Learn a little every day.

Anyway, we had a three hour lunch watching the Spaniards en famille, many smoking - no anti-smoking laws here, and I can attest that they let their dogs poo freely, more than the French do now. Then we went to ... I have drawn a complete blank, I'm embarrassed to say - I think I'm travelled out. An elegant big town nearby where thousands of people were strolling along the beach boardwalk. Even though I can't remember the names, I can remember the grilled fish, the coffee, the sound of Spanish flashing by - me trying out my high-school Spanish. Me gusta mucho espagnol.

We had a great day, even though cold and rainy.

Back to Montpellier tomorrow night, where I can take my time and also look at a map. Hasta la vista. Mi casa es su casa. Etc.

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