les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Long time no blog

 We were married on 13 March 1993, so last weekend we hopped on the TGV to Hendaye. There was a church officers' meeting at our home on Friday evening so we took the 9am TGV from Bordeaux.

Hendaye is a border town just south of here. The TGV gets there in about two and a half hours. We get cheaper tickets because of our age (codger cards) and when I booked the tickets it cost perhaps 3 euros more to travel first class, so we did.

Large armchairs with electric reclining mechanisms, a mains socket and a USB socket, various lights and natty tables to fold out. We travelled like kings. You now only have to wear a mask on public transport, but even there you can take it off to eat or to drink, so we regally ate apples and bananas and drank from our water bottles.

At Hendaye you change to the Euskotren which goes from a station about 100 yards away. I wasn't sure what kind of ticket we needed and there wasn't a lot of information displayed but a friendly lady came up to help us. Our singles to España cost 2,75€ each Then off to San Sebastián in the Basque country.

We had booked into a guest house which we found on AirBnB but which was cheaper if you booked directly at their own website. It was near the main beach, a decent-sized bedroom with a kettle and cups and a very small bathroom attached. On the way we found a café that was serving lunch and ate a copious set menu that put us off eating anything more that day!

In San Sebastián we walked lots, including around the new town where the chain shops are, around one of the hills where the huge waves drenched us with surf while I was busy giving someone directions to church. I didn't scream, yell or lose my sang-froid. We rode the rickety funicular railway up to the not-yet-opened amusement park, but great for the views out over the city. We explored to our hearts' content. And we ate Basque food. 

In one bar near the funicular railway the proprietor was speaking Basque to several of his customers and we ate hearty bocadillos and drank Spanish cider (it's 1,50 a glass but only 5€ for the bottle, said the proprietor) while a group of seriously elderly people at a table alongside chomped away on various pintxos and laughed at the folly of our youthful leaders.

Pintxos. On previous expeditions to San Sebastián pintos had not figured At all. Once we went in a rainy, bleak November and another time Pat went with a friend who is vegan, so this trip we wanted to tackle them. The old town is stuffed with bars and we ventured in on Saturday evening. It was fiesta time. Everywhere was absolutely stuffed with people laughing, shouting, singing and dancing in the street. We were not sure we were quite ready to shove ourselves into the festive throng, and we were still full from lunch, so we found something to drink in a quiet place and went back to our room.

Sunday was a different story. We had spotted one quiet bar on a quiet street in a quiet corner of the old town, so after online church we ventured out to find our pintxos. We reckoned that if we went early we'd be OK. By the way, my Spanish is now seriously lousy and I'd had no time to revise. I understand pretty well anything anyone says to me, but answering is another matter, I mix up "here" and "there", and don't ask me to conjugate verbs, though 2nd form Latin still seems to work...

So -  Pintxos. Essentially they are kind of like tapas, but not really. They're snack-size meals prepared with skill and delicacy. The official way to do it is to go on a pintxos crawl, eating a snack and drinking a glass in a succession of different bars. We decided that we didn't want to quite do that, so we stayed in the one place and ordered what we fancied.

The classic is called La Gilda - named after the heroine of a 1940s film, It consists of a skewer dressed with an olive, and anchovy fillet that encircles three small pickled green peppers and finished with another olive. 

Others come on toasted slices of baguette, and feature tuna, anchovies and shellfish, as well as little lamb cutlets and cheek of beef, stewed slowly in rich gravy. It's all quite delicious and cheaply priced as long as you don't get carried away. Also we slipped up one time and ordered dessert. Big mistake! It was expensive and ordinary.

The local wine is called Txakoli and has to be poured from a great height, as does the cider. You need to get air into it. They're both light and acidic, refreshing but not at all strong.

San Sebastián was full of French people and we chatted with them about the city and the food we were all eating and how we could do them back in France for apéros dînatoires. We got chatting with an American guy who works all over the world by didn't want to tell us what he did, just as you'd expect from an international hired assassin.

On our last day our TGV left at 6 from Hendaye, so we needed to catch the train from San Sebastián at 5. We popped out for breakfast in a nearby café, then tidied our room and checked out to explore the city for one last time. San Sebastián has lots of charming little parks dotted around the city. Then we went for a late lunch to another place I'd spotted that did a reasonably-priced pintxos set lunch. It was next door to the splendid café El Quijote and had a kind of greenhouse where you could sit and eat while watching the world go by untroubled by the breezes. The proprietor spoke un poquito of English and French, so we managed in Spanish, with me blithely making up any words I didn't know.

Back to Bordeaux and we hit the ground running before I developed a raging sore throat - une angine. It's not covid. I checked.





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