Category Archives: Travel

Last day in Biarritz

Monday 14 August 2023 – There’s nothing like not having a choice to direct one’s thinking, and we found that now having a greater understanding of the hotel’s limitations enabled us to arrange things so we had a more comfortable night and a less jaundiced view of the accommodation. (The night was cooler, which helped a lot.) Actually, within what’s possible in such a sharply delinited space, it’s about as good as it could be, and it’s certainly in a very convenient location.

Today was our last full day in Biarritz, and we had only explored the area north of the hotel in our time here so far. So we went for a walk. in the other direction. Obviously.

There were still plenty of people about, but the town and beach were nowhere near as crowded as yesterday.

We made our way past the stone bridge, which was very uncrowded;

not surprising, given that it was closed for maintenance. The road carries on past a pair of good views back over the Port des Pêcheurs

and one enters a network of paths round the headland, leading to the aquarium and the Rock of the Virgin Mary.

The rock owes its name to the statue of the Virgin Mary looking out to sea from the top of the rock; you can just about make out the statue in the photo above. The statue was erected in 1865. Legend has it that fishermen from the port of Biarritz were caught in a “terrible storm” (is there any other sort?) while out at sea hunting whales. A divine light guided them back to port and the survivors erected a statue of the Virgin Mary in gratitude.

Napoleon III decided to cut a tunnel through the rock and had a bridge built to make it accessible from the seafront. The first wooden bridge did not withstand the onslaught of the sea, so, in 1887, Gustave Eiffel was instructed to design a metal bridge, which still stands today.

Sadly, as we discovered,

it was closed today, whilst men used hammers and other serious tools on it.

Looking over the beach of the old port, now called La Petite Plage, is a very pleasant view, with a striking building on the right, more of which later. Importantly, though, Jane spotted something of significance just below that building – a Bar, which we decided It Was Time For.

Walking round the cove gives a good view over it from above the central building,

and the bar, the Eden Rock Café, gives a nice view over the beach as well.

There are steps down to the water from the café, and it seems that if you decide to climb over the gate and go down them and start drowning in the huge waves, someone with a helicopter will come and rescue you, which is decent of them.

After refreshing ourselves, we carried on round the coast, past that striking building.

It shows one How The Other Half Live.  If it were mine, I’d call it a castle, but no, it’s a Villa, the Villa Belza.  Just along the road there’s a bend where watching the surfers is clearly something of a spectator sport.

The waves here weren’t as dramatic as we saw in front of the town itself yesterday, but there was clearly some fun to be had

even if the inevitable end of it was to crash ignominiously into the water. You have to admire the persistence, stamina and skill of these people even as you question their sanity. At least on skis one can coast to a dignified halt outside a bar.

We walked along the front a little, and then found a path up the cliff, which offered a variety of view back over the Villa Belza, of which this is my favourite.

Then we headed inland towards the centre of the town, where there was a market area called the Halles de Biarritz, which Jane thought would be worth nosing around.

The central halls were surrounded by market stalls on the adjacent roads,

and – ooh look! There’s a tapas bar! There, on the right!

This place runs a surprisingly large number of outside tables from just this small interior and they do a fine tapas selection, which we discovered through sampling.

We then headed back to the hotel, through the streets,

past the (modest but pleasant) Jardin Publique,

more fine buildings

and the very handsome façade of the old railway terminus,

now just the frontage for an event space.

As we’d been walking around, I noticed that there were some cute little buslets in operation.

and I even managed to get a shot of one being taught how to navigate by its mother.

And so we arrived back at the hotel, via a couple more pleasant street scenes.

It’s been a pleasure walking around such a handsome town.

After something of a siesta at the hotel, we went out again, as Jane had discovered that there was an evening market at the Port de Pêcheurs. We partook of refreshment en route, once again at the excellent Dodin bar at the back of the casino, where we once again saw the cabaret of the lifeguard station being put to bed.

The night market was a reasonably small affair within the carparking area of the port.

It didn’t have anything to offer that we were interested in, and once again, the queue for Casa Juan Pedro was at Café Opera levels.

That place must be extraordinary to attract the queues it does. Sadly, we will never find out why.

There was a bit of cabaret going on at one corner of the market, and it turned out to be a troupe of three guys wowing the crowds with some acrobatics.  We missed them at the market, but when we climbed up to the Place Saint Eugénie, there they were again. They were quite impressive, so I grabbed some video {and gave them a small contribution in return).

Our return to the hotel involved buying an ice cream and watching the sunset, alongside a load of other people.  The sunset was quite nice, as these things go

but went completely unnoticed by the bunch of beachcombers on the beach below, hopefully scanning for any valuables that might have been dropped by tourists during the day.

The final act of the day was rather lovely – a candlelit parade with some very good singing passed the hotel, marking the Assumption.

Tomorrow, we leave Biarritz for St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Well, I hope we do; we’re rather dependent upon the driver organised by WalkTheCamino being able to find the hotel. Check back on these pages in a day or so and you’ll find out whether we made it OK.  For now, It’s Time For The Bed, I Think.


Monday 24 July 2023 – The excitement in the Burridge-Walker household is verging on the palpable as we head towards our next adventure.  The tension about the adventure itself is considerable (read on for details), but is as nothing compared with that of an update to this website.  Let me deal with that first.

I like, of course, to let people know when I publish a new post to this blog.  Several readers currently get a notification, to mobile device or web browser, to let them know when another post has gone up.  However, the method I have used thus far (called PushEngage) seems not to be a very robust way of ensuring everyone is informed; several people have reported that they no longer receive notifications.

This is tragic, and not to be tolerated.

Therefore, I have updated the machinations of the website so that it is now possible to subscribe with an e-mail address which will receive a notification of every new post. I’d thus ask everyone who is still receiving notifications (or, well, anybody, actually) to activate this new subscription method, to give me greater confidence that people do indeed get wind of new material on the blog.

Please, therefore, provide some kind of an anodyne comment and an e-mail address, and tick the “Notify me of new posts” box at the foot of this post to activate your subscription.  I will shortly remove the old push method to save duplication.

And now – the adventure!

When Jane and I arrive somewhere on our holidays travels, among the first things we do is to go for a walk. Obviously.  Many times I have referred to this as a “peregrination”, without, really, a second thought as to what the word really means. This year, however, we are challenging ourselves with a proper peregrination.

Based on our enjoyment of the experience of walking around the outside of Menorca, we (i.e. Jane) sought out other walks.  One of the obvious candidates was the Camino de Santiago, something that has been achieved, in whole or in part, by friends of ours in recent years, thus providing no small measure of inspiration.  We had originally planned to do this last year, but various pandemic-related issues put it back to 2023.

So it (we hope) will be that on August 16 2023 we take our first steps along the Camino Francés, a 480-mile (770km) journey, starting in France and ending, if we make it, at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.  Being not entirely masochistic, we are getting our bags transferred for us whilst “all” we have to do is to walk; this, and our accommodation and itinerary, have been organised for us by a company called, imaginatively, “Walk the Camino”. They have provided masses of helpful material, among which is a detailed book about the Camino itself, historically a pilgrimage trail to the Cathedral, which houses the tomb of the apostle St. James.

The Spanish for “pilgrim”? Peregrino. In Jane’s case, Peregrina, I suppose.

Hence “peregrination”. Obviously.

To be clear, we’re not undertaking this for any particular religious or spiritual reasons, but simply to challenge ourselves. Spirituality will come in the form of a large gin and tonic at the end of each day. As ever we’re living dangerously when it is safe to do so, as the Camino is a very popular endeavour, with many people undertaking it and a well-established support framework along the way. And a few bars, restaurants and coffee stops. Obviously. (Wouldn’t do it, otherwise – do you think I’m mad?)

Many peregrinos undertake the Camino on a day-to-day basis, walking as far as they can be arsed feel comfortable before seeking accommodation, often in a hostel.  Our plan is more structured, and we’ll be staying in pre-booked and decent quality hotels, since I’m way beyond the age where sharing a room with many other people or having to get dressed to visit the loo during the night count as acceptable conditions. We’ll have the occasional rest day, too. I expect that it will be on those rest days that I bring this blog up to date; I can’t imagine that three dozen entries all saying “got up – had breakfast – walked – got a drink – ate supper – went to bed” would make interesting reading, so I’ll aim to focus just on the highlights, and use the rather natty Relive app to record and share scenes along the way.

That said, there will be some days worth describing individually, such as day 1, which basically involves crossing the Pyrenees and which I expect will give me a great deal to complain write about. We’ll also spend a couple of days beforehand in Biarritz, which should be interesting to look round.

Photographically, I have decided that I don’t want to have to deal with the extra weight of a Big Camera – and the time overhead of processing loads of RAW images – so the Nikon will be staying at home and I’ll use my phone to record everything.

Let’s see how it all goes!

I’d be very pleased if you took the time to subscribe to the blog so that you receive the updates as we go along – provide a comment and an e-mail address below and tick the “Notify” box.

Hasta la vista!