A Travellerspoint blog

June 2007

Long time no blog;

Biarritz; France

semi-overcast 26 °C

Well, where to start? It's been exactly 20 days since my last blog and it is fair to say that whilst a lot has happened, very little has been of a travelling nature. There has been a lot of lazing at the beach, a few surfs, many laughs with drunken Irish teenagers, some truley 'aussie' beach sessions and a few nights at the free Cote de Basque beach party.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days with Queensland girl Michelle and her travelling mates who were making their way down from Paris through Biarritz; across northern Spain and down through Portugal to Morocco. It had been a while since I had spent time with a group of aussies and sure enough the day was spent lazing down the beach accompanied by an Eski filled with cold beers. The highlight of the beach session however was not the stories, the weather or even the beers (10pk for 2 Euro); but an announcement that came over the beach's loudspeakers;
"Your attention please, it appears that there is a thunderstorm with strong winds on its way we advise that you close your umbrellas."
Directly after the announcement all umbrella owners along the beach continued to swim, kick the soccer ball and lay in the sun, paying no attention to the announcement. Except for one overweight man in blue speedos, zinc smudged across his face and a wide brim floppy hat, who had by FAR the smallest umbrella on the beach. He slowly got to his feet made the one metre wobble to his umbrella, closed it and sat down with a satisfied look on his face, as though he had just eliminated all danger posed by the oncoming thunderstorm.

This huge emphasis on beach 'safety' along the Biarritz coast was no more apparent than the day Chloe (sweet californian diving mate) and I went down to the Grand Plage beach where 7 lifeguards surveyed the 13 people swimming. Making sure that the swimmers stayed between the two blue flags, the bodyboarders without fins between the second blue flag and the green and red flag and all bodyboarders and surfers stayed to the right of the green and red flag and to the left of the first blue flag. If you are not complying with these rules a number of things may happen dependent on what you are doing in the water and which flags you are out of;
1: If you are swimming like Chloe and I were, outside of the blue flags, a lifeguard on a surf ski will swim out and stay with you until you do as they say and re-enter the blue flag zone.
2: If you are a surfer that paddles out (stupidly) between the blue flags you will hear 13 or so whistle's blasting at you, arm's waving you out of the 'BFZ' ( local lingo for the Blue Flag Zone ).
3: If you do as I do and paddle out into the correct surfing zone, (right of the green and red flag) and surf a wave that stays in the correct zone you are fine. However if it is a really good wave that ends a little bit into the 'BFZ' the moment you cross the invisible 'BFZ' line, whilst still on the wave, the lifeguards will pull out their most deadliest of weapons, 'The Hooter'. In Australia this is commonly used at Junior football matches to indicate the end of a quarter. Here it's sole purpose is to ruin the only good surf you've had in the past week, by hooting you until you pull of the wave, no matter how good the next section is looking. Causing you to have numerous 'BFZ' nightmares throughout the following week :).
Even with all the whistles, hooters and angry speedo wearing lifeguards, it was still a sweet little surf at 'Le Grand', hopefully soon I will be able to get some photos of the surf up.

The Casetas is a week long festival at Cote De Basque on the water's edge; celebrating the coastal lifestyle present in Biarritz, Hossegor and other surrounding towns. It is a free festival with about 12 different tents, each having its own music genre. The vibe is sweet, the music even better and the beer cheap; the perfect combination for a good night. Chloe and I also managed to watch a free documentary being played on a huge projector inside one of Biarritz's many little coves. It looked at the diving oppurtunities and marine life that are off eastern Papua New Guinea on islands such as British New Guinea. This was a strange mix as I am currently reading a book on those exact islands and Chloe is an avid diver, nice little coincidence.

Gryllzy got here last weekend and stayed for a night before heading back up to Paris; we had a few good beers and he told us all about his European Adventure. He had a lot of sweet stories and looks like he is now a travelling addict, if you get a chance ask him about the story about the girl who won the wet t-shirt competition in Barcelona :)

With a week or so off work before the big summer season starts I've managed to plan the trip Carolina and I will embark on in September, it goes a little something like this;
Biarritz ---> Lisbon, Portugal ---> Barcelona, Spain ---> Pisa, Italy ---> Rome, Italy ---> Dubrovnik, Croatia ---> Croatian Coast ---> Venice, Italy ---> Berlin, Germany ---> Athens, Greece ---> Mount Olympus, Greece ---> Vienna, Austria ---> Paris, France ---> Lisbon
Then I am not quite sure but I think I will be heading to Madrid and flying back down to Marrakech in Morocco to do another month of surfing on a teeny weeny budget.

Well I hope that brings everyone a little bit more up to date; I'll try and get some more photos up soon;

Garrett in Biarritz

Posted by clancy_of_ 04:48 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Surfing in the sights of German bunkers;

'Labenne' Hossegor; France

sunny 29 °C

Just imagine if sixty years ago you went for a surf at 'Labenne', a spot just south of Hossegor that Yann and I went for a surf at this morning. You would grab your board and wettie, make the 10 minute walk through the shrub and over the dunes, to be confronted by several thousand German soldiers crammed into their bunkers, nervously awaiting the possibility of seeing American ships making their way over the horizon. Today, the soldiers may have been replaced by tourists and pollution, but the bunkers remain.


Whilst we explored the bunkers we realised two things;


1: How much history lined this coast, and just how much change Europe has gone through over the past half a century.
2: That the tide was dropping, the swell was picking up, there was no one in the water and a sweet peak was beginning to break just in front of one of the bunkers.


Finally after my bitching two days ago about French surf, we finally scored some good waves. It was offshore and about 1.5/2m, the swell direction wasn't perfect but we still managed to score some fun sand bottom barrels.


Who knows what sort of people will be lining the beaches of 'Labenne' in another fifty years time, but for some reason I have the feeling the bunkers will remain.

Last night, Christina (American/French girl who models for Reef.) and I thought we'd skip drinks at the Newquay bar for one night and take a couple of fresh Stella to the beach and watch the sunset. There was one guy in the water doing his best to surf the little lefts that rolled into the 'Grand Plage';


We spent a couple of hours in the early evening heat, chatting about America, Australia, France, Morocco and even Mexico. As I tried to seek advice on wether heading to San Diego, California at the end of the year would be a good move. It was one of those chats that occur so often when your travelling;
when you start talking you have not one clue about the other person, and by the end of the conversation you feel like you've been mates all your life.


I've thought a lot about this 'Gap Years' trip over the past few days, and I am just beginning to realise just how big of a life changing experience it has already been and will continue to be. This blog is already allowing me to look back on parts of my trip from places such as Morocco, and read up on things I would have long forgotten. If anyone is currently in a gap year, or is just itching for change, get out there, even if it is for a weekend, just see what getting out of your comfort zone can teach you.

Peace and Aurevoir;
Garrett in Biarritz; France

Posted by clancy_of_ 05:53 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

No Taz's!..But there's Paella!

Bayonne; France and San Sebastian; Spain

sunny 21 °C

Last year whilst travelling to Reunion Island I was exposed to the French Islander's love of Reggae, little did I know that this love of Bob Marley, Manu Chao and anything in between, actually stemmed from it's European mainland, France. Sergent Garcia, a latin/reggae artist who was often blasting from the speakers of my (now under new ownership) Holden Commodore Wagon, regularly visits the Basque region and holds free street concerts, an event which unfortunatley doesn't occur as often in Australia.
Last Sunday night he arrived to play in the town of Bayonne, and with a day off work, a free lift and a sunny afternoon I decided it was time to check out my first European street concert.


A couple of thousand people jumped around, singing and drinking to the 8 piece group playing before them. The vibe was amazing, the absence of barriers and bouncers, police and ambulances made me realise why something like this is so rarely held in Australia. There would be hundreds of people just going crazy, drinking like crazy, smoking like crazy and probably winding up in a fight 15 minutes after the concert was over. Here it was different, there wasn't one police officer and the crowd of a couple of thousand just stood around drinking their beer brought from home, getting into their music and having a sweet night. It opened my eyes to the huge difference between this part of French and Australian cultures.


And the end of the night me Steph and her mates, stood around for a while drinking a few last beers, whilst for the third time in about as many days I tried to explain to some bermused French mates the rules and scoring system of Australian Rules Footy.

The surf has been on the verge of shit lately, I won't say shit all together due to the possibility of offending my patriotic French surfer mates, but in the month that I have been here I would have totalled around 4 good surfs. It seems that when ever it's big it's onshore, and when ever it's offshore it's about one foot. Im thinking about staying even for a couple of weeks into September just to witness the "perfect month of surf" that comes during this period, where finally swell and offshore winds combine.

Last Friday again the surf was onshore and with it being Nat's last day in Biarritz we decided to hit up San Sebastian yet again for a night on the town, I was pumped.


The surf was small when we got there, but there was still a good 30 Spaniards in the water, I decided to make the most of it and indulge in my first surf in Spain, getting a few small barrely lefts;


As some one who grew up getting changed into their wetsuit in dirt carparks surrounded by forest and the occasional perving Kangaroo; it's quite a funny feeling getting changed for a surf in the middle of a bustling Spanish street with 10 story apartement buildings all around;


Back home every surf is always followed by at least one trip to Taz's Bakery for a good serving of beef, cheese and bacon pies, followed by a Master's Mocha. However to find that sort of luxury in San Sebastian Spain seemed to pose far to many obstacles,we decided to save the hassle and enjoy a traditional Spanish "Paella", the dish can be made with a variety of ingredients but traditionally it is with seafood; which is what I opted for, a sweet warming meal after a chilly Spanish surf.


We hit up our usual Jagabomb bar where we ran into a couple of Aussie guys from Perth we'd met the week before at the Newquay in Biarritz. We all put our Euro's together and with some random American chicks did a nice round of Jaga's;


The night unfolded as per usual in Spain; with lots and lots of partying. Tired and worn out from a night of dancing and drinking we retreated to the comfort of our 'cheap' Spanish hotel to get at least 5 hours sleep before we drove back to Biarritz so I could start work and Nat could start making the 7 hour journey home to start work the next day;

It's been a fun week here; even though I'm working 5 days a week, the proximity to Spain and the late night partying of Biarritz, means I'm never really missing out on anything;
hope the surf gets better!

Garrett in France and Spain;

Posted by clancy_of_ 01:01 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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