Exploring Alfama

Wearing a comfortable pair of shoes, take a self-guided tour through the historic and picturesque heart of Lisbon, as you wander the steep, and at times, narrow, maze-like cobblestone streets of the Alfama.  The walk, about 2 km or 1.24 miles, can be done in less than two hours with stops along the way to…

The Spanish Basque Country

Planning your trip to the País Vasco The capitals of the three Basque Provinces of Spain are San Sebastián-Donostia in Gipuzkoa, Bilbao-Bilbo in Bizkaia and Vitoria-Gasteiz in Álava.  Euskadi is the politically correct term for the Basque Country, but some prefer the more historically inclusive Euskal Herria, which means the Basque Lands or home of…

Exploring Cap-Ferret

Lunch at La Canfouine-au-Canon, Lège-Cap-Ferret After a morning touring Cap-Ferret, we enjoyed a typical feast overlooking the bay at La Canfouine-au-Canon.  The day was warm and sunny, the oysters and shrimp perfect, and the bottle of Le Canon De Cote Montpezat Rose chilled!

Pintxos Hopping in Bilbao

Pintxos in the Old Quarter, the Casco Viejo Plaza Nueva On Sundays you can see three generations of a family making their way through the neighborhood bars drinking Rioja in sips and feasting on pintxos.  In the “Siete Calles” section, those seven parallel, narrow, pedestrian streets running south of the cathedral.  Note that Bilbaínos believe…

An Excursion Into The Basque Highlands

A short drive from San Sebastián, south on the A-1, will take you into the Goierri, the Basque Highlands, a region surrounded by the Aralar Mountains.  Continue on the road to the attractive, and very Basque, tiny village of Zerain, a postcard perfect setting, which lies midway between Donostia and Vitoria.  On the way you’ll…

Where To Dine On The Côte Basque Part 1

Saint-Jean-de-Luz If you come in to Saint-Jean to shop and would like lunch during the high season, I highly recommend taking refuge from the hordes, far away from Rue Gambetta, Place Saint Louis and the touristy “restaurant row” of rue de la République, with two notable exceptions, the first, Kaiku, on rue de la République…

The Pays Basque Countryside

Exploring the lovely Bucolic Countryside from the Atlantic to Béarn Full-day excursions covering the Labourd, Basse-Navarre and Soule provinces of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques are possible starting either from San Sebastián-Donostia or Hondarribia on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, or from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz or Bayonne on the France side.  The day-long excursions will take you through…

Lodging in the Pays Basque

You’ll find accommodations to fit all budgets in the French Basque Country, from the historic 5-star Hôtel du Palais, luxury boutique hotel Beaumanoir, or the Belle Époque Le Régina in Biarritz, to more moderately priced 3-star accommodations like Hôtel Edouard VII  in Biarritz, 4-star Hôtel Ithurria in Ainhoa, the 3-star country inn, Hotel Arcé, in…

Stars of the Côte Basque Part 3

Bayonne The Spiritual Capital of the Pays Basque For genuine, un-touristy Basque flavor, venture a little further up the coast from the elegant, bustling resort of Biarritz to the quintessentially Basque city of Bayonne, or Baïona in Basque, once the most important commercial port on the coast and the spiritual capital of the Pays Basque. …

Stars of the Côte Basque Part 2

Biarritz A quick 15-minute drive up the autoroute from Saint-Jean-de-Luz is the elegant, stately, and formerly very staid, international resort, the crown jewel of the Côte Basque, Biarritz, a Four-Flower Village (Ville Fleurie) with a climate similar to Carmel, California.  The more time we spend in Biarritz, the more we fall under its spell.  While…