Food, Travel

Eating Their Way Through Biarritz and Bayonne

This post is going to sound like an advertisement, but it’s really not. The duo have received nothing in return for promoting the following places, except happy memories of good fun, remarkable food and occasionally, not-too-shabby service.

The first stop was Puig et Daro, a little gem recommended on TripAdvisor

The first stop was Puig et Daro, a little gem recommended on TripAdvisor

It's a chic little bar à tapas with an impressive selection of wines, and caters for takeaway as well

It’s a chic little bar à tapas with an impressive selection of wines, and caters for takeaway as well

These little suckers look deceptively small, and the Ninja Turtle thought she was going to have one of everything, but after six or seven with lots of bread, she was full up to her eyeballs

These little suckers look deceptively small, and the Ninja Turtle thought she was going to have one of everything, but after six or seven with lots of bread, she was full up to her eyeballs

OK that's a lie, there is always room for chipirons (squid in white wine sauce)

OK that’s a lie, there is always room for chipirons (squid in white wine sauce)

After tapas and three glasses of rosé, the duo needed to walk to digest. Conveniently, there was a market just across the street from the restaurant, so in they went to explore.

Almost half the vendors in the market sold cheese, it seems. The specialties in this region are the Ossau-Iraty and the Roquefort

Almost half the vendors in the market sold cheese, it seems. The specialties in this region are the Ossau-Iraty and the Roquefort

This region is also known for its foie gras

This region is also known for its foie gras – fatty liver of duck and goose.

A quick detour to the ocean front before heading to the next destination...

A quick detour to the ocean front before heading to the next destination…

Pierre Ibaialde, a small-scale producer of jambon in Bayonne

Pierre Ibaialde, a small-scale producer of jambon de Bayonne

They do a free guided tour in this little boutique

They do a free guided tour in this little boutique

Where the guide explained the techniques of production, and finished the show with a tasting platter of jambon, duck saussicon and foie gras

Where the guide explained the techniques of production, and finished the show with a tasting platter of jambon, duck saussicon and foie gras

Then it was back to Biarritz for the marché nocturne

Then it was back to Biarritz for the marché nocturne

With lots of arts and crafts for sale (very cheap jewellery can be found)

With lots of arts and crafts for sale (very cheap jewellery can be found)

But also lots and lots of food

But also lots and lots of food

After wandering around to work up an appetite, it was time for dinner!

Haragia was another find on TripAdvisor. Reservations highly recommended; the place was tiny and people without bookings were turned away.

Haragia was another find on TripAdvisor. Reservations highly recommended; the place was tiny and people without bookings were turned away.

Definitely a place for meatlovers, the chef chooses the cut for you, and at 44€ per kilo, be prepared to come with a fat wallet

Definitely a place for meatlovers, the chef chooses the cut for you, and at 44€ per kilo, be prepared to come with a fat wallet

The chef, hard at work. The duo's 700g chunk took over half an hour to cook over the barbecue...

The chef, hard at work. The duo’s 700g chunk took over half an hour to cook over the barbecue…

Salad: Vegetarian. Steak: Paleo. Fries: Permitted on Weight Watchers. All in all, dinner was a fine balance of diets.

Salad: Vegetarian. Steak: Paleo. Fries: Permitted on Weight Watchers. All in all, dinner was a fine balance of diets.

Believe it or not, even after all that meat, the duo still managed to head back to the marché nocturne for a round of gâteau basque, kouign-amann and coconut macaron. Unfortunately, the Ninja Turtle scarfed them down so quickly, GodzillaPin missed the chance to photograph these sweets. You’re just gonna have to take their word on how delicious it all was.

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Arts and Culture, Travel

Driving through Les Pyrénées

There are certain times in a relationship when one looks at the other all starry-eyed, thinking the world of their partner, who could clearly do no wrong. Yesterday was NOT one of those moments. In fact, yesterday was three-point-five-plus-two hours of headbanging why-am-I-here-God? driving through the Pyrenees.

The fact that GodzillaPin’s car comes fully pimped out with a built-in GPS is no barrier to GodzillaPin’s insistence on getting lost. The GPS calculated x hours for y kilometres to destination, and most people would just leave it be. Not GodzillaPin, no. Heaven forbid he doesn’t outsmart this piece of technology.

GodzillaPin: It’s gonna take us about 2 hours to get there.
Turtle: That’s OK, we better hurry then, it’s already past noon.
GodzillaPin: What if I take out the highway?
(fiddles with GPS while driving)
GodzillaPin: Hey it takes 10mins less if we take the small roads!

So off they merrily went, oblivious to what "small roads" meant in this area of the country

So off they merrily went, oblivious to what “small roads” meant in this area of the country

Occasionally, they'd come across a peculiar detail in the landscape

Occasionally, they’d come across a peculiar detail in the landscape

Marvel the signs written in both French and the Basque language (Euskara)

Marvel the signs written in both French and the Basque language (Euskara)

But it was mostly winding roads, less-than-gentle slopes...

But it was mostly winding roads, less-than-gentle slopes…

And breathtaking views

And breathtaking views

After about 45 minutes, they approached a village with signs saying the road ahead was closed, and a deviation was offered. Nobody said a word, and in retrospect, the Ninja Turtle realised that her brain did do a short-circuit at that moment when GodzillaPin decided to continue merrily as the GPS indicated. As if the roadblock would magically evaporate upon their arrival or something. Unsurprisingly, they came upon the roadblock 7km later.

GodzillaPin: Shit. The road’s closed.
Turtle: Yeah, there were a couple of signs two villages ago saying so.
GodzillaPin: What do you think we should do?
Turtle: (sighs) My honest opinion? Just head back and take the deviation.

GodzillaPin proceeds to coolly ignore this piece of advice, and did what he does best – pretend he was mastering the situation.

Turtle: Where are you going?
GodzillaPin: I think if I take this road, it’ll hopefully bring me somewhere on the other side of the roadblock. I hope it won’t make us drive around a mountain though.
Turtle: You don’t know where you’re going. This looks like private property. We should go back.
GodzillaPin: No no, let me see.

They roll on in awkward silence.

Turtle: I really think we should turn back.
GodzillaPin: Just let me see… (continues to drive without a clue, while fiddling with the GPS, that kept instructing to do a U-turn)
Turtle: The GPS says to go back.
GodzillaPin: Babe, I’ve already gone 3km, I can’t go back now.
Turtle: You’re going to ruin your tyres on this gravel… Watch out! Don’t hit those chickens!

At some stage, GodzillaPin decided to cut his losses and head back. The Ninja Turtle may or may not have gloated about being right yet again. Then, on that already-too-narrow gravel path, a giant tractor comes rolling towards them…

The tractor driver stared suspiciously at GodzillaPin. No doubt they don’t get many visitors in the area. GodzillaPin said good day, and informed the tractor driver of the road block. She replied slowly “yes…” GodzillaPin explained that he was trying to find a way around it, and a look of incredulity clouded the tractor driver’s face. A look that said something like “no one takes shortcuts through my backyard, mate”. Instead, she replied “you’ve got to take the deviation.”

So that was 45 minutes lost, as once again, GodzillaPin versus GPS yielded an unsurprising outcome. They managed to get to their destination in one piece, however, so that’s all that matters. The only thing to note about driving through the Pyrenees is to expect the unexpected. The drive back took longer than expected too, mostly because:

It's only normal rush hour traffic, no?

It’s only normal rush hour traffic, no?

And then of course, if your driver decides to jump out the car to start chasing around the sheep on the hillside, what can the passengers do but wait?

And then of course, if your driver decides to jump out the car to start chasing around the sheep on the hillside, what can the passengers do but wait?

There, he caught his sheep. Now they could continue driving.

There, he caught his sheep. Now they could continue driving.

But wait! There's more! You won't believe where we found this Bessy...

But wait! There’s more! You won’t believe where we found this Bessy…

At 1060m above sea level. Having her dinner. It's actually a pretty good argument against vegetarianism, since a lot of the land would be hard to cultivate crops on. Plus, free-range grass-fed cattle that went hiking? It's quite a happy life for these animals.

At 1060m above sea level. Having her dinner. It’s actually a pretty good argument against vegetarianism, since a lot of the land would be hard to cultivate crops on. Plus, free-range grass-fed cattle that went hiking? It’s quite a happy life for these animals.

The final traffic jam

The final traffic jam

With one straggler overtaken, as it was too busy enjoying the grass and got left behind

With one straggler overtaken, as it was too busy enjoying the grass and got left behind

So that was the adventure of getting lost in the Pyrenees...

So that was the adventure of getting lost in the Pyrenees…

If good for nothing else, at least it brought to our readers this crazy story, and all these photos.

If good for nothing else, at least it brought to our readers this crazy story, and all these photos.

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