Bonjour! from just across the border from Spain in Hendaye, France.
Well we are now in France and struggling with the French language, but are still enjoying our adventures very much. It has been a while since the last email, so here's the lastest installment of Jamin and Tricia's European Adventure. When we last emailed, we were still in the quiet lovely town of Baleal, Portugal. We wrapped up our time in Portugal catching a few more waves, attending a surf competition (Congrads Alex on making the final), and preparing Tinto, our new car, for the journey ahead. We hated to say goodbye to Portugal and even contemplated spending the rest of the summer there. It wouldn't be so bad to just set up camp and surf every day for a couple of months, but it was that time to move on, so we thought.
We headed out of Baleal on Monday morning June 28th, with no real destination other than to make it to Bilbao, Spain by Friday afternoon in time to pick Ed and Melanie Westergaard up at the airport. We had plans with the Westergaard's to spend some time on the coast of northern Spain and attend the Festival of San Fermin's in Pamplona a.k.a. the running of the bulls. All was going well on Monday until about 2 hours up the road, Tinto's driver's side car window broke. We thought this would be an easy fix, just put in back on the track, but no, apparently a piece inside the gear had broken and we were told by a mechanic that we needed a second hand door to solve the problem. This bummed us out, but we decided that with the inside of the door off we could manually control the window until we find time to look for a replacement. Needless to say, it is still a manual window, but we have gotten quick at raising and lowering it. Just a quick side note on Tinto....It is still making it with the engine running fine, but about a week after the driver's side door broke, the passenger side door broke as well, and we solved the problem the same way. Also Tinto has developed a horrible sound in the back of the car, which we are still trying to figure out. Enough on Tinto, back to Monday. Well, we made up the coast of Portugal visiting the scenic town of Nazarre on the way to Porto. Almost in the city of Porto, we got off the interstate-like highway, trying to follow the correct road signs. This was a mistake and one of those learning from example trip-tips. When passing through a city of more than 50,000...stay on the interstate-like road at all cost unless you have a detailed map of that city or know exactly where you are going. It took us about 5 hours to make it through Porto. The traffic got so bad we just pulled over a parked and walked around and had dinner and waited until night to try to get out. Still thick with traffic but now moving we decided that we would get out of the big city of Porto and head up the coast a bit and find a small town to crash at for the night. We picked a really small town, Vila do Conde, from the map and headed to it. It was about 10pm as we diverted off the interstate into Vila do Conde, looking for a hotel, but instead finding the huge festival of San Pedro, only being celebrated in this town on a Monday night. Again stuck in traffic, now in the small village, we thought, well lets just park and join the festivities. Alas, there was not a parking spot to be had, so after about an hour in traffic we finally made it out of that town and to the next one up the coast where after driving around for about 30 minutes finally found a nice spot to lay or heads...midnight. In total we only traveled about 200 miles on Monday the 28th, our most trying day of the trip, so far. Since Monday the 28th, its been smooth sailing.
On the morning of Tuesday the 29th, we headed out and drove from just north of Porto to Oligueria, Spain. Oligueria is on the northwestern coast of Spain near de Corona and is a lovely little town on a bay with mountains draped behind it. This area reminds me of the northwestern US...Oregon and Washington...very green and lush with nice mountains and coast. In fact most of the northern coast of Spain is that way, other than the water is much warmer. The next day we took of early and headed east along the coast and finally stopped in Llanes, Spain after a recommendation from Leo in Peniche. Good recommendation! Very nice little town with good accommodations and a nice victory by Portugal in the semis of the Eurocup, but no waves. The next day we headed towards Bilbao in the rain looking to scout out a place to stay for the next 4 days . We found it near Mundaka, Spain at Hotel Gametxo. We got a little apartment and rented some surf boards and hit the waves. On Friday we picked up Ed and Mel and spent the next few days enjoying the company, beach and mountains. On July 4th, a gorgeous day we finally found the route for the hike up to San Pedro peak just outside Accorda, where we also made reservations for dinner. Dinner that night was the best we have had so far and probably will have. It was authentic Basque cuisine, no menus involved...food just keep coming. It turned out to be a very Legendario evening with fireworks over the town of Mundaka.
On Monday July 5th we started our Pamplona adventure by heading back to Bilbao to pick up a rental car for Ed and Mel. Tinto's lug nuts had fallen off of the left rear tire and the noise was still there, thus, Ed had lost confidence in TInto's ability to make it back to Bilbao for their return flight. Now in caravan mode we made it Pamplona without incident. After checking into El Toro we headed downtown on a bus to check out the festivities. We walked along the running of the bulls route through the Old Town and ended up at the Stadium of Toros bota bags in hand. We happened upon tickets for the bullfights that evening and went straight in, bought 2 bottles of wine and filled our bags in true Hemingway style. The bullfight is an interesting sight to see, people cheering for the death of the beast, it was a little disturbing, but we could not help but be amazed. We left after only 2 bulls, and that is the last bullfight we will need to attend. The festival started in earnest the next day where we headed into a sea of white and red, we felt strangely dressed without ours so we made ammends at the outside market. The festival kicked off with champagne, mustard, ketchup, and flour all being tossed into the air. Luckily we avoided the condiments, and the splashes of water on the crowds afterwards coming from the balconies. It was quite a scene. We made several new friends as we walked around throughout the day drinking from our bags and sharing our wine with others. After everyone had at least some wine splashes on their new whites we headed back to rest up for the early morning running.
Ed was the only one brave? enough to want to run but we all enjoyed the long wait followed by a quick running of the bulls right passed us. Ed ran with Dennis Rodman as well as the bulls and they both came out unharmed. We spend the day as we had the day before enjoying the festivities and drinking from our botas. We ended the evening with a mediocre mexican meal and awesome fireworks. It was the perfect amount of time to be spent at the San Fermin festival, our livers needed a break. We drove out on Thursday destination unknown, ending up in Hendaye, France. We all enjoyed surfing on Friday, with Mel even getting on a board and then the Westergaards left and with them so did the waves. We are now in an apartment on the beach, surfing when we can and enjoying a Fete du Chipirons (festival of squid) tonight, but otherwise keeping it low key. As always we send our love to everyone out there and hope you are enjoying your summers around the world!!
Jamin and Tricia