Thursday, August 26, 2010

Les Landes weekend

While I haven't been travelling Europe far and wide this summer, I have been lucky enough to discover some new gems right in my 'back yard'. Last weekend, Joseba showed me yet another treasure that I didn't know existed. We set off Friday afternoon for a region of France called Les Landes, which is part of a larger region aptly named the Silver Coast (Cote dÁrgent). Borrowing his brother's van, we were excited for a weekend of camping, bike rides and beach - all of which are highly recommended for this area.

When we arrived in Capbreton, a small beachside town, we were sad to learn the camping lot was already full, so we traversed the many
roundabouts back to the main road and en route passed the main square and saw dancing and heard Basque music and decided to postpone the campsite search and stop and enjoy the celebration. Along with accordion music and Euskera singing, a group of 6 danced atop stilts. I was shocked! I mean, we learned to walk on stilts in elementary school, but dancing! Impossible! Turns out, before the re-divisioning after the French Revolution, this region used to belong to Basque Country, and has since held on these roots. Walking on stilts used to be a large part of life because the area was about 65% soggy. Shepards of the area would
monitor their flocks from stilts, not only not getting wet, but also maki
ng it easier to walk long distances each day. Eventually pine tree forests were planted to solve the drainage problem, but the stilt tradition lives
on. I later found out, a young man named Silvain Dornon became one of the most famous people from Les Landes for his stilts! In the Spring of
1891 he began a trek across Europe on his stilts and after going over the
rivers and through the woods, he didn't end up at Grandmother's house, but Moscow! Fifty-eight days after this young baker started, he had managed to walk more than 2,000 miles!

The impressive stilt dancing was followed by an adult group who danced in a circle with their white clothes and red belts and scarves (almost like Pamplona's Running of the Bulls outfit). Being a very old and traditional dance, Joseba of course knew all the words and sang along. Even though this part of France used to be Basque and still practices many customs, the Basque pronounciation and even words are quite different from the
region I live in. After the festival we piled back in the van and drove through the pine forests towards the next closest town - Seignosse - and found a nice camping ground along the way. Once parked, we unloaded the table and chairs and started making dinner! The van has a little propane tank, so we were able to dine quite nicely for camping. Also inside is a bed the width of the vehicle, that made for a comfy sleep! Although there were curtains, we still woke up pretty early the next morning and unloaded our bikes from the back door and pedaled to the beach.

While the beaches around here all have lovely promenades and terraces with views of the sea,
the Silver Coast is untouched (think Long Beach, WA) and for us it was a surprise to see dunes
followed by endless beach. Ok, it's not endless, but with over 65 miles of sandy beach (whose sand more feels like you're walking on flour), you get the impression that it goes as far as the eye can see.
With very high temperatures, we baked in the sun for awhile then decided to walk along the waves. The areas monitored by lifeguards were packed so we found a more deserted area without supervision, but I quickly found out why it wasn't an appropriate swimming area -when I tried to go under a wave and ended up getting somersalted within it, almost losing my bikini bottom and somehow doing the splits underwater. After that, with sand in every place possible, I quickly decided I was no match for the current and would much rather gaze out at the sea from the safe, warm beach hahaha.
Bad planning led to hungry us and no sandwiches, so we left the beach and cycled leisurely back to camp for lunch and then decided to drive to a new spot. Along the way to Saint Girons, we drove beside a bike lane the entire time. They say you can drive from the top of Les Landes to the bottom all on bike, but we only had the weekend, so we reserved that for another trip, but it sounds amazing. With wide bike lanes and practically no hills at all, it is an ideal place for bike rides that just ooze the essence of summer.

Our next stop was not a beach, but instead Lac de Léon, a lake nestled right next to the beach.
We pulled into the last spot at the camping site and with our swimming suits already on from the beach earlier, we hopped on the bikes to ride to the lake, only to find we only needed to cycle
for about 30 seconds until we were in sand. Quite a different atmosphere from the surfer-filled beaches from earlier, the lake was calm and as it was becoming late afternoon, not very occupied. After my 'traumatic' swimming attempt earlier, I was happy for waveless water and we took quickly to doing jumps, flips and the such in the lake like summer campers. When our energy ran out, so did the sun's and we watched a gorgeous sunset over the tops of the trees.

For our last day in Les Landes, we loaded up the van one last time and instead of dedicating ourselves to the beach, we instead headed to Hossegor, a beach town famous for surfing. On the way we picked up a pizza - our only non camping cooked meal of the trip - and gobbled it up at a woody picnic area on the side of the road.

Self-proclaimed capital of Europe's surfing (San Sebastian also likes to use that claim to fame as well), Hossegor is the best place for surf brand shopping. While brand names don't interest me much, Hossegor has become a hotspot for outlets and discount stores, so we got our shop on in the posh seaside town. With many more surf contests, I suppose it could be a better surf town, but even more, it's name suggests the opposite! The hydronym osse (meaning a body of water) along with gor (from Basque's gorri - meaning dry or red), the name actually suggests dry water...which doesn't sound like a surf spot at all! In reality, it was so named when the area was drained and without the marshy land, the town got a new name along with it.

Without seeing a cloud all weekend, as soon as we crossed the border into Spain, droplets of water fell on the windshield. Welcome back to Spanish Basque Country!

Bisou (kiss in French)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A puzzling week

As you all know, I spent about a week at Hotel Amanda Country Home alone. Joseba is back now (yay!) but in the meantime, between my bike rides and beach trips, I needed to find some thing to occupy my time. My solution was a 1,000 piece puzzle!

Growing up and even still when I am home, Grammy and I do puzzles for fun. From 200 pieces when I was kid to the 1,500 piece one we did once, I have developed quite a fondness of puzzles
and decided to find a difficult one to pass the time here in the countryside. I found a small puzzle store in the Old Part of San Sebastian and took a gander one day, hoping to find a puzzle that I just HAD to do, and I found it! Very common in the Basque Country are flower boxes overflowing with geraniums, which add splashes of color everywhere you look. At Joseba's, the family living below him, has decorated a bright green storage door by surrounding it with a variety of potted plants, some of which are the token blooms. When I walked into the puzzle store, I saw a similar Spanish scene of an entry way from a home somewhere in Andalucia - a region in Southern Spain. Although different colors
and building materials, I was taken aback from the similarity between the two flower power spots, on different sides of the country (I know, I know, it's kind of a stretch but I saw some similarities. If you don't see it, here is another picture of a different Basque balcony scene, so maybe you can get more of the idea I thought when I spotted this puzzle - flowers everywhere!). Looking at the photos now, I see it's not exactly a spot-on match, but I bought it anyways and started it immediatley, to quickly find out it was pretty hard.

Not only did I buy the puzzle for the scene, but also because I thought a huge yellow column and a white wall full of flower pots with similar pink flowers would be quite a challenge. Let me
tell you, it was. A week later, I finally finished it! And the satisfaction of putting that last piece in was great (kind of a geeky thing to say, I know)!

Inside the box, the company has written this: Doing a puzzle is a bit like doing yoga exercises...a very welcome relaxation from your daily routine. It is a labor of love, challenge and a light relief all in one. Doing puzzles is exciting, with invigorating emotional ups and downs. Piece for piece, as you search, find and search again, your feeling of acheivement grows. One person can work on a puzzle - or a whole group. Why don't you make your next party a puzzle one??

Now, I like puzzles but I don't know if I would describe it as having invigorating emotional ups and downs, but it sure was fun. Funny thing, is that after all the thinking I put into finding a somewhat similar entryway scene for the puzzle, Joseba asked me why I didn't just do the puzzle that he already had at the house?! I didn't know! Regardless, I'm happy I tackled it. My brain feels younger already. However, I can imagine we will probably do the other puzzle sometime in the near future! I guess you could say we will do as the puzzle box suggests and have a puzzle party haha!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hotel Amanda Country Home

Last year, I had an ongoing joke with my girlfriends about my apartment. Because it was in a good location and my best friends' apartments were farther away, they often stayed the night and eventually we just called my apartment - Hotel Amanda. Seeing as I am staying at Joseba's this week, I figured I should name my 'apartment for the month' something similar, so I have deemed it Hotel Amanda Country Home.
As you read about Orio in the earlier blog, this is the city that Joseba's house is near (about 5 minutes with the bike). However, he lives more in the country. In fact, he lives on a farm in a caserio, which basically means farmhouse. A family lives in the top floor and he has the 1st floor to
himself (no worries - its not like they have stairs in his apartment or anything, it's two houses). Since he is gone this week, it seems quite big to have a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment to myself but I have always
wanted to live alone and I guess these past few days I am getting a taste of the solo-living life.

Hotel Amanda Country Home (or Joseba Resort as he likes to call it) is very relaxing when I compare it to living in the Old Part of San Sebastian.
There, you step out of the house and BOOM - there could be a street party or a bunch of loud tourists passing or a street performer playing

their heart out. Here, I wake up and open the windows to the sound of birds chirping, ducks passing in the river that runs next to the house and of course a crooning rooster although I wake up much later that the sun rises. In the city I usually have a coffee at a busy cafe with a friend whereas here I make it and drink it while doing my puzzle or reading the news. As you can, just starting the morning shows that Hotel Amanda and Hotel Amanda Country Home are worlds apart.

To pass the time, I have been watching movies, writing blogs, reading in
Spanish and getting accustomed to the Spanish siesta. These are my indoor activities, but I make sure to enjoy the great outdoors while I am here too. Bike rides have become almost an everyday activity, jogging (not an everday activity yet hahah) and on a clear night I like to gaze up at the stars because living in a city always makes you appreciate seeing the stars when you can. Because it's in the country,

it's not rare to be riding my bike down the road and pass cows, sheep, goats and chickens (some who roam the road). Nor does it surprise me to see tan wrinkly men who look as if they've spent all summer outside hoeing their gardens. If they are close enough to greet, I always say Aupa, which is the Basque way to say hi or greetings. (It's pronounced oh-pa). Or depending on the time of day I might throw in some more advanced Basque words like Good Morning (egunon) or Good afternoon (arratsaldeon) - but only if I am feeling daring!

I can already see that I am turning into a 'country bumpkin' because

when a car passes or I see someone coming down the road, I watch them intently until they pass because it is honestly possibly the most exciting thing that could happen out here sometimes. There IS a bread factory across the small river, so if I am up early enough in the morning, that provides a lot of activity to watch.

It is so tranquil out here, that I sometimes find myself a bit bored with nothing to do. I am always on the edge of complaining that I

have nothing to do, when I remind myself that once classes start I
will be longing for 'doing nothing' so as weird as it is to be completely unproductive, I am trying to appreciate it.

Joseba comes back from his vacation in two days, so my country life will become much more exciting, but since I have lots of time on my hands, I wanted to share a little bit with you guys about how I've been spending the last few days and share some of my favorite pictures I have taken on bikes rides of the gorgeous Basque countryside.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Everyone loves Oreos!

As you all figured out from my last blog, I am not staying in San Sebastian this month, but instead at my boyfriend's house in a small town called Orio. And yes, it's pronounced Oreo hahah but it is more famous for it's fish than the cookies :)

Since it is known for it's fish, you can of cours
e imagine it is a quaint fishing village that sits right where the sea meets the mountains, along a small river that runs along the side of the city. Directly next to the river sits a huge hill, upon which the Old Town is built - still standing from it's 13th century roots. Most impressive is the Saint Nicholas of Bari church, which was built to withstand the uneven ground. With a stone and wooden walkway that runs around the front part of the church and overlooks the streets below, this church is the oldest monument in town and defintiley the heart of the city.

Running on the left side of the church is Kalea Nagusia - Main Street in Basque - whose cobblestones wind up the steep hill that the city sits on. Each home, most built in the 13th and 14th centuries, boasts a sandstone-carved coat of arms over the front door, a flower-decorated balcony and small front doors (more like my-size homes!). While
the streets are full of lively houses, personal favorite is one called Salatxo. This home, only accessible from a picturesque bridge from the church, is one of the oldest homes in the vill
age and to me, certainly the one with the most personality!

The city echoes of its fishing past in every corner, bar and street. From the carvings in buildings of fishing boats, to outdoor grilling restaurants of the day's catch, Orio
is and always has been an important fishing village in the Basque Country. In the past, fish were not the only important catch to Oriotarras (how you call a person from Orio), but also whales! Back in the 14th century, 14 men would climb into a row boat and head out hunting for whales. So important it was to society, that every five years, the locals celebrate the 'Day of the Whale' which commemerates the day the last whale was hunted by Orio's fisherman in 1901.

While whale hunting stopped with time, the 14-man rowboat stuck and is still an important part of the city's pride. Each summer, rowing teams from local fishing towns compete fiercely in 'regattas' or boat races. As you might remember from my bike trip to San Juan, where the pink flag
s flew with pride, Oriotarras happily post up thier yellow flags and wear thier town's colors daily. I have noticed it is quite impossible to walk through the town and not see a yellow t-shirt! These boat races are all the rage during the summer months and rowers turn into mini-celebrities in their towns. It is assumed these regattas came about from the earlier fisherman who were constantly competiting to get into the harbour first to sell their fish. Now, it is merely a sport, but a very important one to say the least.

In 2005, the population of the city was a mere 4,600 people. So, you can imagine how small it is. In fact, I can ride my bike from one side of town to the other in about 5 minutes. And, if I am feeling like a long-distance ride, I go all the way to the small beach, adding about 5 more minutes to the ride. It's so small that on my first day staying here, I saw one of the two people I know in town besides Joseba as I was riding my bike to the grocery store.

While small it is quite charming and I can't help but smile as I ride on the bumpy stone streets to the tiny grocery store and back home, only hearing Basque and dodging little kids playing soccer in the street. I guess it's not a grand vacation city, but for this month, I am more than happy to be an Oriotarra!

Muxu (kiss in Basque - because that's really about all you hear here!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

How did I get here?

I was just sitting in the bath, staring at the flames of the candles I had lit and watching the steam rise from the hot water, when I wondered to myself, 'How did I get here?'. Beyond the obvious answer that I hate my roommates and I am staying at Joseba's this month, I was more thinking, how did I end up in a bathtub in a small town in the north of Spain?! Would 3 year-old Amanda taking a bath in her sweatsuit in an apartment on 9th avenue 22 years ago have forseen this? I doubt it. So, I started to think of all the things small coincidental things that have brought me here.

Firstly, how did I get in this bathtub? Well, I would never be in the bathtub if I hadn't met such a great guy in Joseba. I am staying here this month and couldn't be happier, but it seems strange to think, that if six months earlier, I hadn't have went to a random house party I had no desire to attend, I wouldn't have met Joseba. That one party eventually led to me being in this bathtub!

That rainy night in February, I really didn't feel like going to a party or even leaving the house for that matter, but my friend Miles convinced me that it was a good idea and that if we hated it we could leave early. Looking back, I wouldn't have went to that party if I had met Miles a few months earlier when he was here visiting my best friend at the time, his cousin Madeline. For the past year Madeline and I had been great friends, even sending silly postcards of the Queen and Barack Obama over the summer when I was in the States. Madeline is from England if you didn't catch onto that.

Although she is a fellow English speaker, I didn't meet Madeline on my own, but instead through my Dutch friend Lotte. One of my best friends during the first semester here, Lotte was getting ready to head back to Holland and had a goodbye party where she introduced me to Madeline. We hit it off immediatley (which did make Lotte kind of jealous hahaha) and have been friends ever since. But what if I hadn't been at that party either? Of course I was there because Lotte and I were so close, but I only met her because she was friends with my Dutch roommate in my first apartment. It's funny because I didn't really love the apartment that much, but I guess looking back on it, if I hadn't lived there, maybe I wouldn't be in this bath?

I came to live in the apartment after my first week in Spain. I was staying in a hostel full of Australians called Urban House and I just happened to ask the girl at the front desk if she knew how to find an apartment in San Sebastian and she miraculously told me that the hostel converted one of the hostel buildings into an apartment for the school year and there was one bedroom left if I wanted it! Such luck!

But how did I end up at a random hostel in Spain? It all goes back to my job in NYC that I really didn't like. For months, I had been looking for a new job, but it was at the beginning of the recession and marketing jobs were scarce. I had even got to the point where I was looking for a new job while at work. Pretty bad. Funny thing is, looking back, that when I accepted the job in NYC I knew I wouldn't like it because it was a sales job, but I was so stuck on accomplishing my dream of living in Manhattan that I took it anyways, telling myself it was only a 1-year contract. No regrets whatsoever!

One weekend when I was living in the Big Apple, I happened to go to Shayla Ames' wedding in California - a much-needed break from my hectic life. At the wedding, I ran into Emily Dieter, one of Shayla's best friends, who I had known and been to school with since elementary school. She had been teaching in Spain (with the same job I have now) and mentioned she and her husband weren't going to make it back for another year and the school was looking for a replacement. I told her I was super interested and she said she would let the boss of the school know. However, after not seeing Emily for something like 6 years, I didn't think much would come of it, but a mere 2 weeks later I was talking with Erika (my current boss) secretly in a conference room of my work and somehow agreeing to move continents within 3 weeks. (Another coincidence - a few months earlier, Grammy had convinced me it was a good idea to get a passport, in case I needed to travel for work. A permanent job in Spain is probably not what she was imaging!)

But what if I hadn't gone to the wedding? What if I had never been such good friends with Shayla that she would invite me to her wedding? Well that's impossible because a few years earlier we had been roomies in Arizona, when I moved down south to live with her and go to ASU (Go Devils!). Months before high school got out, I went to visit Shayla in AZ for Spring Break and met my dad down there to get a tour of the campus. As we were walking down Palm Walk (a sidewalk with hundreds of palm trees lining the walkway) we decided this was the place for me and that I should apply and attend ASU for marketing. Looking back now, I realize not only did I fall in love with the sunshine and palm trees, but also the fact that ASU had a good journalism AND marketing program and at the time I applied I was still undecided.

I had wanted to be a journalism student (more accurately, I had wanted to be Barbara Walters) since I learned how to write. Every Friday some kids were excited about TGIF for the Urkel show or Step by Step. Not me. I was excited for Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs and 20/20! I only switched my interests to marketing when I joined DECA in high school. However, I only did that because I heard they went on awesome trips all over the country, which was completely true! Eventually I became the President of DECA and fell in love with marketing, which led me to look for a school with a good program in that too.

But what if I hadn't joined DECA? What if I had decided I wanted to be a journalism student? My life could be completely different now! Without my great teachers (mostly Mrs. Bishop at Beacon Hill who really encouraged 'free writing' time and Ms. Konecky at HJH whose newspaper class I loved) I had developed a great love for writing, but what if I hadn't gone to those schools? Crazy to think, but I wouldn't have met Emily Dieter, a fellow Bobcat, who ultimatley got me this job! So, from the first day I met Emily (probably sporting some nice stretch pants and a slap bracelet), it was like I was preparing to see her years later at a wedding and have her recommend me for a job!

Strange thing is that I almost went to Catlin, but with a twist of luck ended up at Beacon Hill. My mom met her husband and they decided to move to the area where my mom grew up and where I had been living a few years earlier with Grammy and Bumpa. But, what if my mom hadn't grown up there and went to the same elementary school as me? Maybe we wouldn't have moved to 108 Kraft road and I wouldn't be here in Basque Country! I guess that leads back to the fact that Grammy and Bumpa decided to buy the white house on Beacon Hill drive years and years earlier and raise there family there. Little did they know, that decision would eventually help thier granddaughter move to Spain! And this was even before I was born!

It could go on and on and it just blows my mind, how all of these things, while at the time seemed insignificant, when I look back, really just add up and seem to have led me here! Growing up, I never would have nor could have imagined myself 1) living in Spain and 2) loving being a teacher and yet here I am. It's a crazy world and how it operates is a mystery to me, but sometimes I pause and make myself look at my life and how it is unfolding and I am amazed.

I read a quote by William Burroughs the other day, that possibly started this whole thinking spell: 'In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen.' If that is true, who willed me to come to Spain? Me? Someone else? Maybe when Grammy and Bumpa adopted my mom, who COINCIDENTALLY happens to have Basque roots, it was already starting to be willed.

I don't need a definitive answer nor do I think I would ever find one even if I looked, but I guess sitting in the bathtub today, completely content with my life and how it is going, I kind of wondered how did I get so lucky? I know it's been a long kind of wordy and blabby blog, but I just had to share it with someone. Maybe take a second and think how you got to where you are might just blow your mind and make you finish your relaxing bath early because you're so excited to share it with someone!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

You've Got Mail

Can you beleive I am moving again? I sure can't! I have only been in my current apartment for about 3 months and already I decided it's not going to work out. The girls that I live with have turned out to be quite mean and just party all the time. When I am getting up at 8am for work and to drink a coffee they are still drinking beer. That reason, among with a bunch of others, made me look for a new place for the coming year. And, I found one, right back in my old neighbhorhood of Gros. I have been busy packing and taking my stuff back across the river. The bar where I used to go for coffee almost every day (and where I still frequent) is right across the street and the bar owner told me I could put my things in his storage area in the bar basement to make the move easier, so that's what I have been doing. Little by little I have been taking boxes and such to the bar, always rewarding myself with a beer with lemon after I have lugged something all the way there.
In the meantime, I am staying at Joseba's house - so as to not get woken up every morning at 6am when my roommates come home from partying. Joseba is on vacation right now, so I have the house to myself and am quite enjoying the relaxing time. More to come on that in another blog!

I haven't moved in yet, so no pictures yet, but thought I would entertain you with some photos of the Main Post Office while we were on the topic of addresses. Once I move in, I will get you guys some pictures and the new address!

In the 1800s, the Arts and Crafts School of San Sebastián used to house the building where the Correos (Post Office) now is. When a new school was built, the post office moved in and in 1960 they tore off the roof and replaced it with what now is a beautiful stained glass tribute to Donostia. The glass reads (from left-side going clockwise): Won for fidelity, nobility and loyalty. The words surround the symbol of the city - the boat with the 3 sets of sails and the S and S above. I guess my ship will be setting sail soon enough, so I will try and enjoy the Old Part as much as I can while I still pay rent in it!


No sack lunch for us!

As you all may have noticed, I haven't been doing much travelling this summer. Yes, I take fun bike rides and go to secret swimming spots but really all of these things are within 30 minutes of my house - lucky me! Keeping with the 'staying close' theme, Laura and I decided to get out of San Sebastian for the day and have lunch in a different city, just because we can.
We hopped on the train and decided to get off in a city called Tolosa (pronounced tuh-low-sa). Famous as the best party city in Basque Country during the Carnivales holiday, we had seen some photos in the Donostia tourist office of this town and decided it was cute enough to warrant a visit even without the festival. While we have the luxury of living on the coast, this 750 year-old city is nestled in a valley next to the River Oria. Not only is it just another charming Basque town, but it used to be the provincial capital of Guipúzcoa - the 'state or county' of Basque Country that I live in.

The first thing we saw when we got off the train was a huge church, but unexpectedly, it was covered in graffiti. Don't worry - it wasn't cussing graffiti or gang signs, but instead, you could tell it was more of a set of murals, probably done by local artists. This is the one I liked the most.

When we arrived, it seemed quite quiet for a Saturday afternoon. Normally there are outdoor markets every Saturday mornin but when we walked past the market square, there were no fruits and veggies to be found. We quickly found out it was actually a holiday. I think it was San Ignacio or something...I never really know because there are SO many saints and holidays. Regardless, everything was basically closed, so we almost had the city to ourselves.

Our first mission was to find the location of the photo we had seen
and take our own pictures. Well, it's not such a big town and there is only one river, so it wasn't super difficult and within 10 minutes we found it - and here is the shot in all its glory! Pretty impressive I thought - that a photo could make us actually want to go to a place. It's like a tourist book photographer's dream! I just love archways that run along the
river in front of colorfully painted homes and end at that a beautiful church that stands out against the green mountainous terrain behind it, and beyond that the goregeous blue sky. After that climax, we gave into our hunger and found a plaza with a café that was open and grabbed an outdoor table to soak up the sun.

Besides the café being open, not much else was, but thankfully the tourst 'office' was. Now, when we were looking for this 'office' I was keeping my eyes peeled for a building but in the end it was a wooden shack in the middle of a plaza.
Quite unexpected. Anyways, we talked with the guy working and grabbed some pamphlets to decide what we 1) wanted to do and 2) what we actually could do on a holiday. Most of the suggestions were things that you can only do on a workday, so we headed towards the Old Part to just enjoy the colorful buildings. We wandered up and down streets, through small little alleys and past huge churches but in the end just gave up because we couldn't actually go in anywhere or see anything besides the facades of the buildings.

One thing we made sure not to pass up was a little bakery where the famous Tolosa Cigarrillos y Tejas. Made by hand in this village with butter and whole almonds, these tasty desserts (kind of like the pirouettes snack in the States) are famous all over Basque Country.

What started out as a little excursion day turned into just a small lunch-date in a different town. We were happy nonetheless and mostly satisfied we had taken our coveted photo! Sometimes, although you don't have a vacation planned or anything exciting going on, it's just nice to get out of the everyday habits and go somewhere new for a change - even if it IS just a lunch on a sunny day.