Friday, November 30, 2012


 Here Jacques was alone in the kitchen working on his creation, everything comes in a tart. I had the duck confit tart. It was quite good.
 There were other patrons in this small restaurant.
 Dessert? A slice of Gateaux Basque with a selection of artisanal sorbet, very delicious. Its the in thing in food in France these days, artisanal sorbets. I tried to check out recipes for them, I need an icecream maker. So I'm going to get an icecream maker before summer next year.
I didn't eat it all, Sophie had some. That was a great meal.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

St Jean pied-de-port

 The train from Bayonne deposited a bunch of us at the station in St Jean pied-de-port including this group of women presumably they are pilgrims.

 St Jean is a typical French Basque village.

 Here the pilgrims stops at the pilgrims' office, get their first stamp on their pilgrim's passport and instructions on the way. They could go to the local shops and get kitted up if they are not already kitted for the way.

Here is a bunch of bicyclists making the climb up the hill. It's pretty tough but they were able to do it. It's the low season for pilgrims, we saw only a handful. St Jean is a popular stop for daytrippers. There were more of us daytrippers around town.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gateaux Basque, French style

Gateaux Basque comes filled with either cream or cherry. It's not easy to find the cherry filled gateaux Basque and when you do find it, eat it. That was what I did here in Bayonne.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Old Bayonne

 I remember how pretty Bayonne is. The old part is always busy.

 Only on the Atlantic coast will you see store shelves full of different brands of canned sardines.

 The cathedral of Bayonne, majestic and just as I remembered it.

We tried taking the bus to St Jean de Luz but was told it doesn't run on Sunday so we weren't able to take the La Rhunne train. We had to settle for St Jean pied de port instead. I was there seven years ago too but Sophie hasn't been.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bayonne, France

 I hadn't planned on being in Bayonne. I was here some seven years ago. The plan was to go to St Jean de Luz, then take the little train up the Pyrenees. We took the train from San Sebastian, crossed to the French border at Hendaye, got off at St Jean de Luz but couldn't find affordable accomodation. So we took the next train and headed up the coast to Bayonne where I knew cheaper rooms await. After we checked in we walked to the river and had lunch. I had lunch here seven years ago.

With all the seafood here, it was hard picking out what to eat. I finally settled for the lott or monkfish. It was delicious.
 I had forgotten how well the French does things, anything, they do it with such finesse. It was great to be back in France, it felt like I've been away for a while. I don't want to stay away this long next time. Even the sprouts on my plate had an attitude. I wonder what sprouts they were, radish? They tasted wonderful, had a little bite to it.
 That was a really great meal. Sophie had the entrecote, the steak.
Some expresso and I'm in heaven, food heaven.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Ribera district of Bilbao

 The old Spanish style storefront still exists in abundance.
 Salt cod, an old staple of Spanish cuisine is sold everywhere.

 A store dedicated to all things Basque.

Life goes on even in the toughest of circumstances, the recession and unemployment. People went about their ways. We didn't know how to get here from the Guggenheim, this nice Spanish lady showed us how to take the little commuter train, the 'Euskotrain'. It was so convenient, it goes between the bus station, passes the Guggenheim and then onward to the Ribera district. We took it to get back to the bus station where the bus took us back to San Sebastian. Spain is nice, not as frenetic as the USA, definitely very unlike the Los Angeles area where one is stranded if one doesn't drive.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Guggenheim, some of the exhibits

 The space is so huge, they need a lot of huge pieces to fill it. It takes a certain kind of people to appreciate some of the pieces like this one. I forgot what its all about.
 We like the fact that they teach kids at such a young age to appreciate art especially modern art. I didn't grow up with art, in fact, I was chided by my art teacher at how horrible my work was. At 13 that was quite devastating. I didn't take up art appreciation until a very late age when I started traveling. Now I even dabble in it and have received compliments. Not that my art is good but that I'm even brave enough to take up the paint brush and put some strokes on paper.

I discovered Egon Schiele, a protege of Gustav Klimt. I like his work a lot especially his nude women. It was a good visit, all in all.