thursdaysd Wanders South

Old Sep 28th, 2015, 01:09 PM
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Right after I get home! I'll be looking out for your TR. I'm sure you'll have a great trip.
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 01:39 PM
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Kerouac, So glad you discovered Einsiedeln last year! I stayed in Rapperswil a few years ago, and this had been a researched daytrip for me, including the Goldapfel Backerei Museum...aah, memories!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 11:34 AM
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<b>September 21-24, 2015: Sun and Rain on Lake Como</b>

Switzerland's scenic mountain railways are a major tourist draw. I rode one of them, from Montreux to Interlaken (although part of the journey was on a bus) on my ill-fated 2005 trip. That ride I went first class, paying extra for a front row seat in the dome car, sitting above the driver. But just as there are multiple scenic routes (the most famous - or most promoted - are the Glacier Express, the Bernina, the Golden Pass and the William Tell) there are different ways to experience them. The tourist trains offer options at different price points, you don't have to take the most expensive, as I did in 2005, but regular passenger trains also run those routes. True, you don't get a dome car, but you get a pretty good view anyway, at potentially much lower cost.

I planned a variation of the William Tell route, which starts with a slow boat trip down Lake Lucerne, before passing through the Gotthard tunnel and finishing at Locarno or Lugano (change at Bellinzona). My train from Zurich would also go through the Gotthard tunnel, but instead of changing trains at Bellinzona I would ride all the way to Como, where I would take the ferry up the lake to Varenna. Only one train a day would stop at Como and not require me to change trains, and by booking ahead I paid a mere 10 CHF for it (10.39 USD at today's exchange rate). The base price for the William Tell route (which admittedly included the boat ride), without any kind of pass, was 197 CHF, or 123 CHF with a half-fare travel card, and that wouldn't get me to Como.

My cheapskate train ride was a great success. Lake and mountain views alike were excellent. The Swiss railway website had said that second class would be packed the whole way, but at the back end of the last second class coach, where I was sitting, there was space to change sides when the sun started hitting my reserved seat. Yes, I arrived in Como on a hot, sunny day, the first in what felt like forever. I hefted my case down the steps in front of the station, and then rolled it easily through town to the ferry dock, where I found a mob of day trippers. Since they all wanted to sit outside in the sun, and I chose to sit just inside in the shade, they were not a problem. Although I abandoned my nighttime cough medicine in Zurich (I had been waking up groggy) I was still feeling fragile, and just sat and admired the beautiful lake views instead of taking photographs.

I had had some difficulty with reservations for the Italian Lakes, even at the end of the season, and was sleeping rather more expensively than usual at the Villa Cipressi, although they had put me in the annex above the breakfast room instead of in the more impressive main building. I still had a pretty good lake view, which I appreciated, and a big room with a comfortable bed, but wifi was so bad as to be essentially useless. This would have been less of an annoyance if the weather had stayed fine, but I should have taken photographs on the lake trip, as my first full day was grey and cloudy, and the second featured driving rain and wind so strong it blew my supposedly sturdy Norwegian umbrella inside out.

I did make it to Bellagio the first day, finding it, as I had expected, well provided with expensive shops and restaurants, but also with with good views. I found a neat little place, Art in Flower, near the top of the main drag, for a quite reasonable lunch, wandered back down through a quiet park, and then around the point that divides Lake Lecco from Lake Como. I caught the boat back as rain started.

Given the horrible weather, and my lack of energy, meals occupied more of my attention than the mostly non-existent views. I enjoyed one excellent dinner in the Villa Cipressi's dining room - although a big group of women from Missouri (or was it Michigan) kept the noise level high. I highly recommend the delicious veal. I can also recommend the pizzas at the Royal Victoria Grill, just a short walk away, and the friendly service at the Albergo del Sole, also nearby, although the food was just average.

What I can't do is recommend the Osteria Quatro Pass, since they did not honor my reservation. They claimed to have mixed up the names, but not only is mine unusual, but I had a reservation for one, and all the tables held at least two people. Their offer of an aperitif and a suggestion that the wait might only be twenty minutes did not impress me. I rarely drink aperitifs, I would have had to drink this one standing out in the alley, and I had no faith at all in the estimate of the wait time. I went back to Albergo del Sole, where I was comped a much more welcome limoncello at the end of the meal.

Of course, the morning I left the sun was out, but I took a taxi to the station anyway (it was uphill). Although I was early I found Platform One already packed with people, several with huge suitcases, and few of whom had apparently bothered to look for the departure board (hidden in the waiting room), which said that the train we were all waiting for would leave from Platform Two (there were only two). True, we didn't need to cross the tracks until shortly before the train was due, but even after a few of us led the way, there were still die hards on Platform One when the train to Milan pulled in.
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Old Oct 8th, 2015, 12:39 PM
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<b>September 21-24, 2015: Sleeping on an Island</b>

From Lake Como I moved on to Lake Maggiore, notable for the three Borromeo islands and two islets, named for the prominent banking family that acquired them in the 16th century, and still own Isola Bella and Isola Madre. The first town I visited in Italy, back in 2004, was Stresa, on Lake Maggiore. I wanted to revisit the lake, but I had discovered that I could sleep on one of the islands, Isola Superiore (or dei Pescatori), which I thought might be both more peaceful and more fun. I booked a room with a partial lake view at the Belvedere, which got me a large plain room, a large square terrace, and a fine view, although very little sun as the terrace faced north and east and was shaded by buildings. However, the no-view rooms looked out on a narrow alley, so the upgrade was definitely worthwhile.

I had also upgraded, I forget why, part of the train journey from Varenna to Stresa. I had to change in Milan Centrale, a station I would rather avoid, but I left Milan in Tourist Preferente class, which somehow managed to fit four large-feeling seats into the same width carriage as regular tourist class. I sank gratefully into my seat in the almost empty carriage, having had to tow my case all around the station in search of toilets and food, and then the full length of the platform to reach my carriage. The trek from Stresa's train station to the ferry took a while, but at least it was downhill.

Sleeping on Isola Superiore turned out to be a good news/bad news deal, with the tilt towards bad. The views were lovely, and the island was quiet at night. However, it was tourist central during the day, especially at lunch time. At night, most of the cafes shut down, leaving a few expensive restaurants and a couple of lakeside places hosting tour groups who arrived on chartered boats. I got a 10% discount at the Belvedere's restaurant, and had one good meal, but one not so good meal, there.

Besides Isola Superiore, you can visit Isola Bella - baroque palace and formal gardens - and Isola Madre - older palace and extensive, wilder gardens. There's a combo ticket that gets you into both palaces for a reduced price, but you have to visit both on the same day. I had three full days and no need to rush so instead I arrived early two days running on the two different islands. This worked for avoiding crowds on Isola Madre, but not for Isola Bella, where there were plenty of tour groups. I only visited Isola Madre on my last trip, and having now seen both it is the one I would choose to go back to, even though it is obvious that any available funds are spent on Isola Bella.

The palace on Isola Bella is infinitely grander, built and decorated to impress, but I preferred the family retreat feel of the palace on Isola Madre, where you can wander at will. In fact, in order to dodge the one tour group there, I went round twice. The shell grottoes in the basement of Isola Madre left me cold, in both senses of the word, while there is a beautifully frescoed sitting room with garden views on Isola Bella I would love to spend time in. I also loved wandering under the trees in the less formal grounds on Isola Bella, where I picked up a stray feather from a molting peacock. Unfortunately, my camera battery gave out shortly after I arrived there, and I wasn't carrying the spare.

Besides the islands, tourists are encouraged to take a three-cornered trip to Switzerland - a couple of trains to Locarno, and the boat back. I had taken that trip in 2004, and the Centovalli train through the mountains from Domodossola had been scenic, although very crowded, and I had enjoyed Locarno and its historic castle, but I really felt no need to repeat the excursion. I did wander again along the waterfront at Stresa, past the grand hotels left over from the turn of the 20th century.

I enjoyed two beautiful days before the weather turned bad on me again.
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Old Oct 8th, 2015, 01:03 PM
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Hi Thursday, I'm just catching up on your trip and I'm interested as you're going to lots of places we haven't made it to. We have a very old friend we moved to Geneva a few years ago and we still haven't managed to visit him in Switzerland, but I like the idea of the successful cheapskate train ride you described!
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Old Oct 8th, 2015, 01:27 PM
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Hi WTB - gorgeous, gorgeous scenery in Switzerland, but it can be very expensive! B&Bs and hostels and train passes can help....
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Old Oct 8th, 2015, 04:37 PM
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Traveling vicariously with you...
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Old Oct 17th, 2015, 10:34 AM
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Have had some really, really bad wifi....

<b>September 28 - October 2, 2015: Enjoying Turin</b>

With a choice of Milan or Turin after the Italian Lakes I had no difficulty picking Turin over Milan, which I had already visited. Turin seemed over-provided with interesting museums, not to mention cafes and restaurants. Hotels were a little more problematic, and I wound up sleeping a bit above my usual price point at Townhouse 70, which had actual turn-down service (provided even when I put out the do-not-disturb sign). The staff were very helpful, breakfast was good, and I slept well.

Founded by the Romans, for centuries Turin was the seat of the House of Savoy, which held sway over varying swathes of northwestern Italy and southeastern France, and ultimately provided reunified Italy with its first king and its first capital. The city had the buildings and avenues one would expect of such a power base. In the city center many of the streets were lined with soaring arcades, no doubt providing welcome shade in the summer, and providing me with shelter from the rain. A little further out the streets were still wide, wide enough that I noticed cars parked along the center line! When just one or two cars were using this novel parking lot, they had their hazard lights on, but where several were lined up they didn't bother.

The Savoy family also built castles and palaces in the surrounding countryside, and although many have disappeared one, designed as a hunting lodge, still stands in Veneria Reale and was recently renovated after years of abandonment. Calling it a hunting lodge is seriously misleading, palace would be more accurate, although in one of its earlier incarnations it was even bigger. The grounds have also been rescued, and should really be seen on a sunny day. Unfortunately, Accuweather once again proved inaccurate, and I visited on the wrong day.

The basement provided more information than I really needed on the history of the family and of the building. All of the furniture was long gone, so the rooms upstairs were mostly empty, but the walls and ceilings were plenty grandiose. A special exhibition on Raphael contained a number of pictures borrowed from Florence, a city I still have not visited. While I could appreciate Raphael's ability, I was not converted into a fan. I'm afraid I was actually more appreciative of the Venetian barge in the stables.

The really grandiose palace, of course, was in the center of Turin. I was suitably impressed, but the more baroque buildings I see, the more excessive I find them. The Madama palace/castle, which I also visited, did offer some medieval church artifacts, along with cases of silver, glass and ceramics. And, reached through the wintry gardens, access to a tower and a view. At least you could visit the gardens at the Madama palace, those around the Royal Palace were suffering from neglect and off limits.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my visits, but not as much as those to other museums in town. I confess to complete disinterest in the Shroud of Turin, so I skipped that museum, as well as the well-regarded museums devoted to film and Fiat. I would like to have visited the Decorative Arts and Risorgimento museums, but there I would have had to join a guided tour in Italian. The official at the Risorgimento museum seemed positively offended that an English speaker might want to visit his museum! But I had a lovely time at the virtually deserted Asiatica Museum, and a pretty good one at the popular Egyptian Museum, said to be the best outside Cairo. It was certainly a great deal better maintained and curated than the one in Cairo, although my audio guide was partially defective.

The Asiatica's collection was small, but included some exquisite pieces. Not to mention, Tibetan thangkas from the 15th century which I was surprised to see in Turin. I did ask how they came to be there, but the language barrier proved insurmountable. The ritual artifacts made from human bone in the Tibetan section were even more surprising! A temporary exhibition on the Spice Route, featuring National Geographic photographs, reminded me that I still haven't made it to Central Asia...

The man who completed Turin's Egyptian collection, Schiaparelli, obviously had unusually good relations with the Egyptian authorities. Although short on gold artifacts, the museum held a very great deal of everything else you might expect in the way of sarcophagi, grave goods, and statues. The remains of a couple of pleated linen tunics must be among the oldest textiles on view anywhere, and a bed, complete with bed linens, was not much younger. The visit ended with a long mirrored room full of large statues. The museum was extensive, and by that time I was almost too tired to appreciate them.

Aside from museums, I also made sure to visit some of Turin's historic cafes. I mostly drank coffee - proper macchiatos! - since although the one spritz I allowed myself in the San Carlo came with munchies, they were not particularly good munchies. (I was starting to feel that I had been eating and drinking too much and was gaining weight.) The San Carlo, once a hot bed of revolution, featured mirrors, frescoes and chandeliers, but ultimately my favorite was the smaller and darker Mulassano, covered with beautifully carved wood panelling.

One consideration in picking Turin over Milan had been that I didn't have to get up quite so early to catch the direct TGV to Lyon, but I still left the Townhouse 70 shortly after 7:00. I had been looking forward to a reputedly scenic journey through the mountains, but the weather was uncooperative. In Italy one band of cloud lay in the valleys, and another draped the mountain tops.
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Old Oct 17th, 2015, 11:08 AM
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Hi Thursdays, I'm catching up with you again. I hope you are recovered from your illness. There is nothing quite so annoying as being sick while traveling... especially when moving every few days.

I have wondered whether we would enjoy Switzerland - we have mountain views at home and have been to the Himalayas and the Andes. You description of your train journey sounds interesting.
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Old Oct 17th, 2015, 01:03 PM
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Hi Kathie, good to hear from you.

Thanks, I have recovered, although I had a sore throat a couple of nights ago, which was worrying, but then it just went away.

Unfortunately, my visit to the Bernese Oberland was cut short when I broke my wrist, and I only had a glimpse of the mountains the morning I left. But that was enough for me to want to return - I don't have mountain views at home, alas, but I have seen the Himalayas and the Andes. I didn't want to take the time this trip, as it warrants more than three days. But consider the Italian Lakes as well, they have mountain backdrops (see the photos on my blog).
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Old Oct 22nd, 2015, 06:25 AM
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<b>October 3-6, 2015: Pau and the Pyrenees</b>

I went to Pau because of a book. Not a particularly good book, I suppose, nor is the author, Dornford Yates, much read these days. His descriptions are too elaborate, and his attitudes too Edwardian, for current taste. But in his day he was quite popular, both for romantic comedies, which I read, and light adventure, which I did not. Pau is also, perhaps, not so popular these days, but in the early 20th century it was a favored winter destination for the English, who rented, bought or built villas there.

While I was interested to see the villas, a number of which remain, what drew me was Yates' description of the Pyrenees as seen from the town. Pau is built on two levels. At river level you find the train station, the town swimming pool and a number of houses. But take the old-fashioned funicular up from the station, and the rest of the town spreads back from the edge of an almost sheer drop, with a kilometer long promenade between a chateau and a casino, facing the mountains. The boulevard, lined with palm trees, even has a balustrade.

Back in 2004 I visited Pau on a day trip from Bayonne. The train ride, climbing among trees dressed in spring green, was almost magical - it felt like the morning of the world. The chateau was impressive, although the tour was in French and Henri IV's crib ostentatiously decorated with plumed spears. The park by the casino made for a pretty walk. But the mountains were shrouded in cloud. I promised myself I would return, but for more than a few hours, to improve the odds of actually seeing the Pyrenees.

None of Pau's hotels were particularly enticing, so I booked an AirBnB apartment with a balcony that promised mountain views. With no good route by train from northern Italy to southwestern France, I was glad to find a cheap flight from Lyon and the mountain train route from Turin. While I booked into the NH airport hotel in Lyon I had thought to go into town for dinner, and even solicited suggestions here. But I had been eating rather well in Italy, and needed a break from rich food. In the end I spent the afternoon catching up on sleep, and dined off the hotel's buffet - lots of salad, meats and cheeses.

For some reason the T-Mobile plan on my smart phone doesn't work well in the south of France, and I had a little difficulty connecting with my host. But the apartment matched the photos, the terrace looked towards the mountains, and adjacent windows gave me a grandstand view of the Place Clemenceau, which was hosting events for Breast Cancer Awareness. My host also gave me directions to a couple of open grocery stores, which was a relief since I had arrived on a Saturday afternoon.

This was my third AirBnB rental. The first taught me to make sure there was an elevator if the apartment was above the (European) second floor. This one reinforced the lesson from the second: don't rent from bachelors. True, this time there was plenty of closet space, and even a power point next to a mirror, but only one towel (another was delivered next day) and the sheets and towels were too dark for me to be entirely sure about how clean they were.

I didn't revisit the interior of the Chateau, although I did stop by the modest house where Marshal Bernadotte had been born. He had a truly remarkable rise, from total obscurity, by way of Napoleon's army, to King of Sweden. The current Swedish royals are his descendants. The museum, however, is probably only of interest to Swedes. I also had a nice time checking out more of the villas, but aside from the Chateau and the mountains, there really isn't a lot of sightseeing interest in Pau, it's more a place for flaneurs. The changing scene in Place Clemenceau enlivened the weekend, but would be tamer during the week. Saturday included couples dancing the tango in one corner of the expansive square and four children's trampolines in another, with a parade of motor bikes towards the end of the afternoon. Sunday morning was quiet, but a series of marathons started and ended right below my windows later on.

And the mountains? Yes, I did get to see them, and I enjoyed them very much. Only with real clarity at dawn and dusk though, and I did wonder whether the persistent haze was less a function of the weather than of pollution. The book that sent me to Pau was published nearly a century ago, and in that time Pau has been a center of the aviation industry, after hosting the world's first pilot school, and later of the petrochemical industry.

Monday afternoon I found a free ebook version of "Jonah and Co." on the Project Gutenberg website, and enjoyed rereading it.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2015, 07:23 AM
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Great write up, I too have wanted to get to Pau, but so far it has avoided me.

Mrs Bilbo broke a wrist above the artic circle (nasty place to break) in Finland and the whole hospital had a receptionist and that seemed to be about it. Doctor looked at it, said "its broken" and set it before sending it for a 3d xray to check her work, Machine was next door and generated a CD which the doctor put in the her pc, yep set as she wanted it.

Being Brits the cost was zilch and we got to keep the CD. Still the 90 minute drive over frozen ice in a taxi hurt Mrs B and my wallet a bit.

The total time taken, about 20 minutes, enough time to watch Emerdale in Finish on the TV.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2015, 08:51 AM
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Thanks for your comments on the mountains, thrusdays.

Your time in Pau sounds lovely and restful.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2015, 09:08 AM
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Thanks, bilbo. Yes, Pau isn't the easiest place to get to. There is still a train to/from Bayonne (I think I conflated the Bayonne to Pau ride with the one to St. Jean Pied-du-Port, which is currently partly by bus.) But there are just a few direct flights - Paris and Marseilles as well as Lyon.

Sorry to hear about Mrs Bilbo's wrist, and especially the taxi ride! I had to have pins put in mine, and spent the night in the hospital. Alas, not free, since I am an expat Brit these days.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2015, 12:35 PM
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Pau is a very pleasant city, even though I have never been to the top.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2015, 12:58 PM
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kathie - it was a restful visit, although the weather wasn't the best. However, I think I had an allergy to something in the apartment. I thought I was coming down with a cold, but then realized it was only in the main part of the apt. Possibly to the mosses - and funghi? - growing on the balcony....

kerouac - the top? You mean up where the chateau is? I thought that was the main part of the city.

Forgot to mention an odd fact about pronunciation. Reading the book, I thought the town was pronounced, roughly, "paw". In 2004 I discovered, I thought, that the locals pronounced it "po". I preferred my version, but when in Rome. Then I happened across a wiki piece that said that in Occitan and Basque it is indeed pronounced "paw".
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Old Oct 29th, 2015, 10:33 AM
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<b>October 6-11, 2015: Basing in Bayonne</b>

Bayonne, besides possessing plenty of interesting old buildings and a Basque Museum, makes a good base for the French Basque country. When I stayed there in 2004 I spent more time day-tripping than in town, visiting Pau, St. Jean-de-Luz on the coast, and St. Jean Pied-de-Port in the mountains. Having already stayed in Pau, and having not especially admired St. Jean-de-Luz, this time I visited St. Jean Pied-de-Port, Biarritz, and Bidart.

Rick Steves, the American travel guru, recommends basing in St. Jean-de-Luz. I suppose that might make sense if you had a car and were using the same base for France and Spain, but for someone using public transport it makes no sense at all. It is not even part of the Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne bus network, which offers a day pass for a mere two euro, and if you're taking the train to Spain you have to change in Irun or Hendaye. Then, seaside resorts don't usually interest me, although I had a wonderful time in Biarritz this trip.

Neither the hotel nor AirBnB offerings in Bayonne were inspiring, so I opted for closeness to the train station and stayed at the Ibis Styles. The rather decrepit hotel I had used in 2004 had closed, and the building which I think had housed it looked ready for demolition. The Ibis was cheap and cheerful but had horrible wifi, and if I wanted to eat well I had to cross the bridge to the old town. (I got plenty of use out of the cheap bus passes.) The hotel sent me to the Bistro St. Cluque, which was conveniently close when it rained, but I found the food at best average. This was sad, as when I checked my old website I saw that it was the bistro I had very much enjoyed in 2004. (My new favorite was La Chistera, under the arcades across the river.)

Two wide rivers meet in Bayonne, and plenty of water was flowing under the several bridges. The Basque Museum was on the riverfront across from the main part of the old town, and kept me occupied for a couple of hours. Farming implements and stone crosses on the ground floor were succeeded by china and furniture further up, and then by information on Bayonne's history as a port. Nothing on the Basque independence movement, although there was some information on Basque identity. A temporary exhibition informed me that rugby had become an important sport in the area at the beginning of the 20th century, but the permanent collection was all about pelote.

I nearly lost my nice Norwegian umbrella after visiting the museum. As it was wet, I put it on the floor by my chair while I ate a rather good lunch at a place just past the old-style iron and glass market hall. When I left I forgot it, and a couple of hours later when it started raining again, realized what had happened and went back for it. The bistro was about to close and at first seemed to be claiming no knowledge of my umbrella. Eventually they said that one of the waitresses had gone home with it, and once we established I was not leaving town for a couple of days, said they would arrange for its return in the morning. At least they lent me another umbrella, and I did get mine back in the morning. What would have happened had I been a day tripper with no French I don't know.

I enjoyed Biarritz so much I'm giving it its own post, but St. Jean Pied-de-Port occupied less time. While the train tracks from Bayonne are being relaid passengers have to switch to a bus at Cambo-les-Bains, and the route seemed less scenic to me than I remembered. The town is the starting point for many of the people walking the Camino to Santiago, although I would be inclined to begin on the other side of the Pyrenees! Not too many pilgrims around in October, just a handful in St. Jean-de-Port, and I would see a few others in Pamplona and Leon further along the route.

I loved the mountain views, of course, but once you've hiked up (and up) the ramparts to the (closed) citadel, and along the river, and photographed the old buildings on the side streets, there is really nothing to do in town. Bidart, which I visited as an alternative to St. Jean-de-Luz, was particularly unsuccessful, being a more suitable destination for someone with a car, and in any case preeminently a place to surf, or to watch surfers. I did find watching them an interesting accompaniment to lunch, but that was long enough. I went back to Biarritz for the afternoon.

I had arrived in Bayonne on a train with rolling stock so old, it still had compartments instead of airline-style seating. I left the same way, headed for Hendaye, where the train would arrive just too late to connect with a Euskotren commuter train to San Sebastian and I would have to wait nearly half an hour for the next.
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Old Nov 4th, 2015, 01:24 PM
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<b>October 8 and 10, 2015: Beautiful Biarritz</b>

Biarritz. Seaside resort par excellence. Grande dame of the Belle Epoque. So not my kind of place. And yet, I had a wonderful day there. So good I thought about staying there instead of Bayonne if I were to revisit the French Basque country - at least until I saw the prices in the cafes.

I'm not fond of resorts, and I don't much care for beaches - I have mile upon mile of golden sands just a couple of hours drive from my house, and I rarely make the drive. I no longer plan to visit tropical beaches on trips to Asia, unless I am really, really tired. But I love Nice - in the off-season, only in the off-season! - and I loved Biarritz. I don't think it's just because they're French. Nice is a great town to visit quite apart from its (pebbly) beach, on which I have never set foot. And it's a short bus or train ride away from lots of other compelling destinations.

Biarritz isn't a particularly good base - Bayonne is better - and I didn't care over much for the town, although there are a number of interesting buildings along the seafront. But the day I visited the sky was blue and the wind was strong, and there were enough rocks along the coastline to produce plenty of wave action, and that's what I enjoyed. Since I visited the first time on a weekday in October, the ocean-front walkways weren't crowded - I found the crowds a couple of blocks inland, on the shopping streets. When I went back on a Saturday, on a calm day, there were many fewer breakers and many more people. Since I was back in town to visit the Asiatica Museum I didn't mind too much.

The bus from Bayonne dropped me outside the T.I., and I headed down hill to the ocean, roughly in the middle of the promenade. Walking north, at first I was right on the edge of land, but then, after climbing rather a lot of steps, I wandered under wind-blown trees to eventually arrive at a lighthouse and a welcome cafe. Public transport didn't reach that far, so I walked back into town for lunch (forgettable) before continuing south, finding rocky headlands, one crowned with a Madonna statue, and a small fishing port where I could walk out on the jetties among the waves.

My visit to the Asiatica Museum was also enjoyable, although photographs weren't allowed because a previous visitor had abused the privilege. Most of the artifacts were south Asian, with some Chinese ivories, and Chinese and Japanese porcelain, and some of the pieces were said to be unique. As in Turin I was surprised to find a number of early Tibetan thangkas and bronzes. Afterwards I indulged in a crepe de citron and coffee in one of the cafes overlooking the beach.
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Old Nov 4th, 2015, 07:39 PM
  #39  
kja
 
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Hi, thursdaysd -- I've finally had a chance to read about your southern wander -- at least as so far recorded -- thanks so much for posting such detailed and informative reports! As you so often do, you have reminded me of some wonderful travel moments and inspired further travel aspirations.

I haven't seen any references to coughing for a while, and sincerely hope that means that you finally recovered from the lingering cold that plagued some of the earlier parts of your journey.

Looking forward to more....
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Old Nov 4th, 2015, 09:21 PM
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Thursday - I was really interested to read your thoughts on Biarritz.

When I was a child I used to visit a very grand house with my grandmother. The very elderly lady we went to see there would tell me all about the lovely art work, truly incredible stuff. Needless to say it's no longer there. Anyway, I admired a drawing of a girl my age and she said, "It was drawn on holiday in Biarritz". This was the first time I'd ever heard of the place but it made an impact. In more recent years I've though vaguely about going when I've seen it on a Ryanair destination list but always wondered what one would find there? It was delightful to visit through your eyes.
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