A day in Biarritz

Hello!

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I had the chance when I drove my brother down to Bidart to spend some time in Biarritz, a very well known, very pleasant town in the Pays Basque. It is a surfing place, it displays a lot of fancy shops, has a fantastic Casino with the view on La Grande Plage, and a gorgeous landscape.

By the time we found a spot to park we had lost enough time to have to run down to the center, have a look around, go back to the car and find another parking spot to be on time for the Sunday rugby game. Biarritz was defeated by Toulon, it came as no surprise, but still, we had a lovely time.

As we drove back to Bidart, we had the most amazing sunset I’ve seen in France, I took the time to park the car and enjoy the view for a few minutes, thing that I never used to do before. Funny how it took me to travel to the other side of the world and back to realize what was right in front of me. Marcel Proust once said ‘discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes’ and I could not agree more. Finally, I can see what is around me and find some comfort in it when the times of longing get to me.

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Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them

Hello!

France-NZ is on tonight, no matter my unboundable love for NZ, I will follow my French rugby team till the end! First time we meet since that notorious World Cup final, we don’t stand a chance but who knows, miracles have happened in the past!

I have been quiet for a couple of weeks, not for a lack of will, but a lack of time. Who would have thought working full time could be so exhausting? I’m happy though to come back to my NZ trip story, on that rainy Saturday.

Last time I left you in Franz Josef and today we reach Fox Glacier, about 30 minutes from Franz Josef. Exactly like Franz Josef I’ve seen that glacier twice, with reasonably good weather both times! I would advise you to do both glaciers, they are very different and you can get really close to Fox. Lake Matheson is also a must see of the Glaciers region, it’s about 6k from Fox. They have shuttles to get you there, however that day we waited and waited for it to come, it never came so we ended up walking there… We were so tired by the time we arrived, and knowing we had to do the same way back to the village, we actually only reached sight of the lake before turning back… They say on a clear day you can see Mount Cook in the back, the reflection on the lake being THE attraction, however, both times we were far from being able to see anything reflecting on the lake.

We stayed at the Ivory Towers Backpackers, a really really nice place, and we regretted we only had one night booked… I remember the theater room downstairs, of course we watched a Lord of the Rings, the reading room with a fireplace, and the kitchen with a lot of tables with table cloth just like a restaurant. I actually doubt having said that that they had table cloth but for some reason in my memory they did! Whatever, it is a very nice place and I would advice anyone to go there.

These are the photos from our visit in May:

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Photos from our visit in December:

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Travel Theme: stone

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There was a time when I believed as hard as stone in you, in us and everything that it entailed. No stones can survive the passing of time so how could we… All that remains are the ruins of what used to be, as only proof that it ever existed, till it finally comes to the ground and disappear for good.

Time for goodbyes is not there yet it seems, till then, we hand on to what we can…

This post is part of the Travel Themes

 

How long is forever? Sometimes just one second

Hello!

On this rainy Sunday, let’s talk about another wet land: the glaciers of New Zealand! Franz Joseph was on top of our Must See list as we started in NZ. My brother had contacted me a few days prior to our arrival in the glaciers zone to say happy birthday of course but also to tell me he wanted to offer me a sky dive experience… What better place to do it than in the glaciers?? Don’t get too exited, it did not happen… First, my mad foot needed to be cured ASAP. 15 days of antibiotics and a traumatizing egg bursting later, all that was left of the poisonous spider was an enormous scar, still visible as of today. Second, the impossible weather. Foggy, raining and windy, what was the point?? Third, probably my lack of confidence in my ability to jump from a plane…

Both time I went to Franz Joseph I first had a stop in Hokitika. It is only after wandering in the ‘city’ the second time around that I had to admit I had already been there, once, when the Intercity bus took a two hours break… Lonely Planet says it is a nice place, worth to spend one or two nights, and that’s about the only thing I’ve been mad at them about. Because Hokitika may have plenty to offer, I absolutly hated it. Can’t get anymore boring, wondering in the city on a Monday with everything closed. Sunset viewpoint yes, but not enough to make it a stop! We were staying at a lovely hostel though,Birdsong Backpacker. We had one of the private rooms, that actually consisted of two rooms and a bathroom. The common area is fully opened on the coast with a very nice kitchen, there is a balcony bif enough to have a meal or read a book in the sun.

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So as I’ve mentionned before, the first morning we woke up in the glaciers it was raining a bit… To say the least… Very foggy on top of it. We only had one day and two nights planned in Franz Joseph so we had no choice but to go for it anyway… The man from the hostel told us ‘when it rains, the glaciers is blue’, so why not? We were with that French girl then, that we met back in Punakaiki, Laurence, that had the same itinerary as us up to that point. We took all our strength to get in the shuttle that was to take us to the glacier site, armed with the huge umbrellas the hostel had landed us. Downpours of rain by the time we arrived, so much fog we couldn’t see anything. Did not matter, we did the hike as far as it is allowed, and yet, we did not see the glaciers… However, we met a group of 3 guys, the only ones on the trail. One English man that had been travelling for 8 years in a row, one crazy german guy, Oscar, who had spent the past 6 months in a tent , the only human being that I’ve met that claims to actually have seen a wild kiwi one night he was camping in the woods, and A., the cutest English man I had the opportunity to meet! They stayed at our hostel then and it is one of the best nights we had on the trip! That’s when I started to understand how amazing it is to meet people on the road, people you are going to share your entire life story and all your dreams with for just one night, wake up the next day and leave without a word of goodbye and later realize you don’t even know there names. These nameless people are the ones I remember the best. And Oscar and his rainbow world of course…

We were staying at the Chateau Backpackers, hostel that we only picked because of its name. Very cheap, free soup, what more could we ask for? The dorms were very basics, although we did have a girls only dorm, but it is one of those hostels were you just feel at home. Very homelike kitchen where they serve free soup everynight, they also have a ounge room with a huge flat TV screen and tons of DVD to borrow for free. Of course we watched the Lord of the Rings, with some free pop corn offered by the hostel for those who want to spend some time watching movies. There is a room downstairs that I called the Fire Room, with obsviously a fire and stuff to hang your wet clothes, and sofas to have a read while warming up. By the time we arrived that night after the hike in the rain, this room was unapprochable because of the horrendous smell of wet dirty socks…  The manager is lovely, there is a hot tub, there is nothing wrong I can really say about that place. Just go and try it for yourself!

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But, I took a detour by the glaciers once again when my mom came to visit, I would have hated to stay on a failure like that… The glaciers are, I find, a very unusual sight in the rest of New Zealand. I still don’t really understand what they are doing there, but what I know is that they are slowly disappearing. They say slowly but I was astouned by it actually, I think the glaciers decrease by something like 20 meters each year.

One more thing about Franz Josef: Picnics Bakery.

Cheers!

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Heading south

Hello!

Hump day YAY!!

In early September, I was lucky enough to move my little brother in his new flat, where he would start off university. We took the car, both of us and the rest of his stuff, and drove all the way down to Bidart, a good 5hours from where we live.

Bidart is in that beautiful surfing region, area code starting in 64, region that we name: le pays basque. As sad as I was to let my last brother go, after years sharing our home, watching movies and picking ridiculous little fights, I was very happy with that short week end, and I did not have any worry the day I left him in the rugby territory of france.

Bidart is a small village, very basque, counting no less than 3 frontons! A fronton is the name they give the field for that very tipycal basque sport: la pelote basque. I know what it looks like but I’ve never actually seen anyone play that game, I think that would be an experience and I hope I will have the opportunity while he is down there to see a game.

It is a surfing coast as I said, very dramatic landscape, very green with a lot of gorgeous beaches and huge houses.

If you have a chance to go down there, remember to try a gateau basque, the traditonal cherry cake from the local boulangerie.

That was a lot of Frenchness for one day, I hope I made it interesting enough!

Cheers!

M.

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Bidart's boulangerie

Bidart’s boulangerie

One of bidary's fronton

One of bidart’s fronton

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Travel theme: Brown

Hello!

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The pavlova is a recipe I brought back from Australia, their national dessert being the white pavlova. It turns out that a chocolate pavlova in France has a name: un concorde.

Do I need to say it is delicious? The best part: everytime I have a bite it reminds me of that wonderful birthday night in Picton with E., when the restaurant manager, having noticed it was my brithday while checking my ID (I was turning 23 and yet, he still needed to check I was old enough for a gin and tonic!), decided to offer us a pavlova for dessert with a single candle on it…

Cheers!

M.

This post is part of the travel themes.

 

Recipe of the week

Hello sweet sunday!

I haven’t done a recipe post for such a long time… Not that I haven’t been baking, in fact, seeing the extra pounds I seem to have put up this past month, I have to admit I might have gone over the top…

I luckily noticed the other day passing through the alleys of my local supermarket some Lait Ribot (Laez Ribod as the bretons call it), I name: buttermilk! I first started to notice buttermilk in recipes when I first came back from travelling last january, while I was looking for a scone recipe. I checked it online and found a lot of French people wondering the same thing: what the hell is it?? It looks really popular in UK and US baking, but not much around here! The answer was Lait Ribot, a fermented milk very tradional in Bretagne. Outside of Bretagne, it could be found only on very special food store but I guess now, we too can have our fresh delicious scone!

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I decided to try Joy of Baking’s recipe for Cinnamon Roll Scones, recipe that I’ve been drooling over for a long time! When I lived in the US I never really liked Cinnamon Rolls, but somehow I have started liking cinnamon in the past few years. These little babies were so delicious let me tell you! Great texture and amazing taste! They looked pretty bad, as I was adding the buttermilk I quickly felt I had poured too much, but I did not want to add too much flour.

I only added the minimum she advises but even that was a bit too much. Everything else was perfect, thanks for sharing that recipe!

Cheers!

M.

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