Excited to leave Spain for a day and conquer a new country, we had no idea that these delightful faces would be the epitome of our time in France.
We took a 20-ish minute train ride from San Sebastian, Spain (A), to Hendaye, France (B), and then jumped aboard another train (for about 25 minutes) heading to Biarritz, France (C). Luckily, we found traveling by train to be just as effortless and cheap as you would expect it to be. Round trip was less than 20 euros.
Our easy, breezy trip took a turn for the worse, though, upon arrival in Biarritz. We wandered out of the train station to locate a grand total of zero English or Spanish-speaking people, which made it tricky to locate the beach. Luckily, as we were attempting to decipher the French map at the bus station, a pleasant, silver-headed, older British lady came to our rescue. Ever so kindly, she told us that just a mere three kilometers away, we would find a lake, so tranquil that no city noise could be heard, and that we would be able to see the ocean from there. When we told her we would probably just wait for the bus to come, rather than walking without knowing where to go, she gasped in horror that three kilometers (1.86 miles) was too far for us to walk.
So, she gave us directions and landmarks about four more times, expressed judgement because we didn’t know it was Ascension Day, condemned Pablo for being Spanish and then wished us luck, because those three kilometers were far too much for her to handle.
Feeling extremely belittled and defeated by the British lady, who probably had 12 cats at home, we rode off into sunset (not really, it was morning still and we weren’t riding anything) on the search for our first landmark: the roundabout.
Have you ever seen people walking on the shoulder of a highway and wondered how they got there and where on Earth they could possibly be going?
Yeah, that was us… just casually strolling alongside a highway, searching for a roundabout, a youth hostel, construction workers, a lake and finally a beach. We considered turning around and walking back to the train station several times, but feared reencountering the directionally challenged Brit.
Luckily, Pablo was able to flag down a car and the puzzled passengers confirmed that we were indeed heading in the right direction.
If we’re being honest here, those three kilometers were really not three. And again, if you want the truth, Steve Madden flats were not made for walking. And crazy cat ladies were not made for giving directions.
And unfortunately, that was just the beginning of our walking adventure. The purple line is approximately our entire walking route for the day–just under seven miles.
We eventually found the lake, fed some ducks and listened for the ocean… You don’t hear it either? Because if you look at the map above, you can see how far the ocean really is from the bloody lake.
So we carried on. And on. And on.
And alas, we found the promised land.
We were starving and thirsty and miserable and hot and cold and on a budget, so we had to continue walking until we found a place that offered something edible and under 30 euros. We bought some delicious sandwiches and ate them on a bench. How European of us, right?
BUT, despite all of the negativity that you may be sensing, Biarritz was beautiful and I really did enjoy it. Plus, this little adventure won me my first photography contest with The Today Show! (See picture below!) The Brit and the blisters just put a bad taste in my mouth… very quickly.
Being topless on the beach was quite the trend, though. I was slightly uncomfortable watching a topless mom play Badmitton with her kids, but at least she wasn’t taking them into tanning booths, I guess.
We meandered from the beach, into the streets of Biarritz and through some charming little shops. In the midst of our wandering, we stumbled upon some heavenly salty caramel ice cream, which, for a minute or two, made me forget about the trauma my feet were enduring.
Refusing to take anyone’s advice or direction ever again, we took a bus back to the train station that evening and slept very well that night.