Nick and I enjoy travel very much, but several years have passed since our last trip. This is due in part because of Covid, and also because we have each had a variety of medical issues that needed our attention. In early summer, we were very pleased that our doctors declared us to be in excellent health, and they cleared us for travel. Continue reading Preparing for a New Travel Adventure
On the morning of September 5, we were ready. Our regular airport driver has retired, so we took an Uber. We recalled previous airport trips when it took an hour for us to reach JFK. The amount of traffic has increased greatly, Continue reading Basque Country, Day 1 — September 5, 2023
September 6 was a sunny and hot morning, with the temperature at about 90 degrees. After standing at the back of a long line of people who were waiting for a cab for quite awhile with no cabs in sight, we decided that Plan B was in order. We walked across the airport to the bus stop. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 2 — September 6, 2023
This morning’s breakfast made me think that we were inside a bakery. There were so many varieties of tea breads, muffins, croissants and other pastries. Our favorite was something that reminded us of lemon squares that had a bottom layer of pastry, a creamy filling, and more pastry on top. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 3 — September 7, 2023
Today’s temperature was expected to be cooler, reaching a high of only 89 degrees. H’mm. The breakfast buffet was as tempting and yesterday’s, but we noticed that there were also “American” foods such as cold cereal, pancakes, and yogurt, and also a variety of cold meats, cheeses, and fruit. After breakfast, we decided to go for a walk on the town’s ramparts. Continue reading Basque County, Day 4 — September 8, 2023
After breakfast, we learned that Bayonne gave its name to a musket with a blade attached that was originally used by hunters in the 1600s, but eventually became a weapon: the bayonet.
Todd led us to the cathedral. Nick and I had already been there, but it was a much richer experience having both Todd and a local guide who lives in the town. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as is the entire town. The area was once called Aquitaine. Eleanor of Aquitaine was the mother of Richard the Lionheart. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 5 — September 9, 2023
After breakfast, we boarded our bus for Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the town in France from which many Camino walkers begin their arduous journey. Centuries ago, it was declared that remains found 500 miles away in Compostela, Spain, were those of the apostle James the Greater. For many centuries, pilgrims have walked the trail for religious reasons, but now we met walkers from several continents whose reasons for walking the Camino were as varied as they were. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 6 — September 10, 2023
We began our day by learning that one member of our group had hurt her ankle while walking in the cobblestone streets. Fortunately, her ankle was not broken. Then we began walking in the rain.
We met Leo, our tour guide for the city of Pamplona. He made a good impression by taking us to a cafe that enabled us to take shelter from the rain and to warm up with coffee, tea or hot chocolate, with Spanish cookies that are known in New York as Italian cookies.
This was the day that we would walk five miles on El Camino, beginning at the Alto de Perdón (Peak of Forgiveness). We began with a group photo, and we noticed that at our starting point, there was a memorial that reminded us of Stonehenge. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 8 — September 12, 2023
After breakfast, we met our local tour leader, whose name was pronounced “Jo-nay.” As were our previous local guides, she was extremely knowledgeable. She told us that people from her town love food, and they also love exercising, such as by participating in marathons, hiking, and swimming. In fact, she said she had swum across Concha Bay and has hiked the entire Camino, but she did sections of it on different days rather than all at once. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 9 — September 13, 2023
After breakfast, we boarded the bus. Our first stop was quite a change of pace: a family-run sheep farm. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 10 — September 14, 2023
The breakfast buffet featured eggs, cold cuts, breads, cereals, and desserts. There were also slices of fresh pineapple and oranges. Then we had a walk though town. Todd led us to the mercado (market) where we had a “coffee break.” I convinced Nick that we needed a vegetable. We shared a slice of carrot cake. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 11 — September 15, 2023
Our next destination after our tour was Cap Ferret, near Bordeaux, to see our friends José-Maria and Agnès. There is no direct flight from Bilbao to Bordeaux, so we had to fly to Madrid first. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 12 — September 16, 2023
José-Maria walked to a nearby shop for fresh croissants for our breakfast. Then he and Agnès took us to a nearby village. It, too, was a former fishermen’s village, and many of the houses had remained untouched from their original construction, while others have additions and fresh coats of paint. The primary catch now is oysters. The town has many cafes that serve only oysters. Nick enjoys oysters very much. He insisted that I have tasted them previously, but I have no memory of eating them. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 13 — September 17, 2023
We awoke to a rainy, windy day, which we all thought was perfect for reading. Nick and I took out our Kindles and settled in. After awhile, Agnès asked me what I was reading. She became very excited when I told her that it was one of the books in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which are set in Botswana, and feature a charming group of regular characters . She told me that she has read every book in the series. Continue reading Basque Country, Day 14–16 — September 18–20, 2023