Friday, February 29, 2008

Southerners in Spain part I

I have been thinking about Spain, as in San Sebastien, lately. Reason being is that I am working for a client who pays me in room and board at her house in France. What you say, France? You’re thinking Spain but your writing France. Thing is her house is in the Basque region of France, on the Spanish boarder. The Basque region stretches through both France and Spain. Her home is in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, where the hills meet the Atlantic Ocean. It is a beautiful rugged part of the world, we really enjoyed our first visit and can’t wait to go again.

My friends house is in a village called Soca. It is very close to St. Jean de Luz, which is a vacation town on the French side of the Pyrenees. It is also very close to San Sebastian, which is on the other side of the Pyrenees. And if you have ever been to San Sebastian you know what a good thing that is. Especially if you like to eat, there is no other place on earth like San Sebastian when it comes to food.

I think I will back it up and take a few days to tell you how we came to visit this ancient city I had hardly ever heard of. It was years ago, maybe seven or eight, when a friend in the wine business invited us to meet him in Bordeaux, France for Vin Expo. Vin Expo is the largest wine gathering in the world. Wine makers come from all over the world come to show off their wines for the world. We just went along for fun and it was fun indeed.

As we planed the trip we split into two groups and each found a place to rent in or around Bordeaux. Our group was smaller than the other, it was just Stacey and I and friends who were in the wine business in Alabama. We found a place to stay in the Graves region, at Chateau Lacoste.

So this is the first leg of this trip and man was it a trip. The nearest to Bordeaux we could fly direct from Atlanta was Barcelona, Spain. Another city I really, really love, but we had no plans to visit this trip. We were gonna land, take a cab to the train depot and get a train to Bordeaux. No problem, yea right. We flew first class, get to Barcelona and because we flew first class I was probably drunk. They just don’t know how to say no in first class when it comes to more wine , please. I usually drink all night on these trips and pay for it for a few days. Anyway we land, get the cab and he rips us off for about $30.00 on the fare. That never happens now that we are savvy travelers. Inside the train depot we realize that we calculated the time change wrong and we have like twelve hours to wait for the train. Then we have the ride to Bordeaux and then we have to get to our rental house. We decide to rent a car and drive. The car rental is at the airport, so back in a cab and it only cost half as much to get back to the airport, go figure. We rent a car and get a map and hit the road. Now at this point we have not slept for more than twenty four hours and we are gonna try and drive about four hours to Bordeaux. NOT. We hit the brick wall about an hour on the road. I didn’t see any Holiday Inns or Motel 6 or 5 or whatever. We did figure out that the gas stations/restaurant/truck stop was the place to get a room, so we pulled over for the next one and got the one person running the whole operation to show us a room. Clean, small, warm and dry, we’ll take it. We lay down and of course can’t sleep. We go downstairs to the restaurant and eat a little food, still can’t sleep. So we get in the car and go for a little ride. We are in a small village, there seems to be no commerce of any kind until we find a small bar. We go in and it’s just us and the guy running the place and neither of us can speak the others language. We manage to order something to drink, we drink, get tired and go back to truck stop and fall asleep.

Next morning we head out and have a lovely drive through the Pyrenees, into France from Spain. We stop at a roadside produce stand somewhere in France and buy a few things as we are to cook dinner for the whole group the first night and them the next night. We find the largest figs I have ever seen in my life, they are a purplish black and about the size of a baseball. We continue on and find our rental without much problem. We are staying at a Chateau that has converted the horse stables to a carriage house and it’s right nice, if not a bit musty.

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