Steve’s Journal

The Goyetche Family Genealogy
Hillside garden in Biarritz
La plage, Biarritz
Sandcastles viewed from 30 ft above

Travels to Basque country

Saturday July 25, 1998 Biarritz, France There is a magnificent 1/2 mile long beach in the center of the town, with great crashing waves coming in from the Atlantic. Parts of the beach are reserved for bathers, while others for those on surfboards. At either end of the crescent beach are two points of jutting rock. One has an old lighthouse marking danger to sailors; the other has a shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Just back of the beach is a raised stone walkway, and behind it rises the city in tiers. It is cloudy, which is actually a relief; if it were sunny it would be unbearably hot. Yet the clouds are just over the land; just out to sea is a beautiful expansive blue sky! Here I sit on the beach, with the waves crashing loudly, among a patchwork of bathers, in the midst of this lively city, putting my thoughts to paper. Lovely! 5:00 PM I’m back at the beach after having spent the last several hours walking around town, soaking in the atmosphere, taking in the sights. Just above me, in a courtyard by the stone walkway, is a five-piece South American band busking (playing for donations) for tourists. It is a nice serenade. The tide is high, so the crashing surf is considerably louder now (I was not on the wet sand before, but rather above the high tide mark and thus quite far from the low-tide waves). The wind is up too, so I am feeling the occasional salt spray on the wind. Very refreshing... 6:00 PM I just got off the bus from Biarritz to Bayonne, and I sat down at a table in the street at a small brasserie. J’ai commandé une ‘tit bière à la pression, et il me l’a donnée 0.33 L d’une vraie bière Basque. C’est à mon goût! I’m on a small laneway called Victor Hugo. Today it is a pedestrian walkway. With no parking and no sidewalk, two cars could perhaps just pass. But with vendors’ clothes and other wares on one side, and restaurant tables and chairs on the other, there is barely room for people to pass on by. But they pass in droves. I occasionally hear German or English; a little more frequently I here Spanish; but what I hear constantly is French. Bayonne is a tourist Mecca for the French. A street actor just started a performance 30 yards from me. I can’t see very much for the intervening crowds, but it seems from the accompanying soundtrack that he is re-enacting man’s first steps on the moon. He is in a silver suit form head-to-toe, complete with silver boots and gloves. In addition his face is made up in silver, and he is sporting black sunglasses. He is now doing a second performance, this time for a new crowd. The new crowd now blocks him from my view, but I managed to see him walking and moving ever so precisely, à la robot. Well I’ve had a great time here in Bayonne. My train leaves in an hour and a half (8:00 PM), so I’m going to carry on writing again tomorrow. For now, a final tour of the town! After my final tour of the town, I headed back to l’Hôtel Crisol, Rue des Basques, where I picked up my heavy knapsack. It was a 20-minute walk to the train station, predominantly along the Nive River. Aside from the architecture, which was constantly pleasing my eye, the river itself engrossed me. It was high tide - a considerable contrast to the low tide I had up to then always chanced to see. It seemed it was about to burst its banks! The channel was contained within stone walls, just like the Seine in Paris. But here, at high tide, the water was within 30 inches, or 3 feet at most, of street level! It even covered the grass of some bank- side terraces! It made me wonder how often it flooded during storms at high tide… The train left for Paris on time at 8:00 PM.

Biarritz Photo Album