As we arrived in St. Jean de Luz, I was still winding down from the incredible time I had in Bordeaux and, as such, I had no intention of doing anything other than leisurely wandering the streets with my wife. We arrived early afternoon and there was a bit of swell in the harbor, so we did not get onto a tender until a bit after 2:00 p.m., which was absolutely fine with me.
Honestly, this was not my favorite port as it seems to be more of a summer resort for the French (and this is October) and other than surfers working the waves breaking to the north of the ship as the tide rose not much was going on. We did take the tourist train to get our bearings. I mean what could 30 minutes do to hurt our day. Trust me: Big mistake…Big mistake. Don’t do it!
So after that it was a very nice stroll past very expensive stores…and then “that” store caught my eye. You know the one. The one with the cured meats. One in particular fascinated me. It looked like a French beanie. Picked that up for the Food & Wine Tasting!
So after a Whiskey Crème ice cream cone it was enough so we strolled back to the ship…looking for anyone we knew to warn them off the tourist train who were about to embark. And, of course, a nice long soak in “my” hot tub on the Seabourn Pride…with a glass of champagne. (OK, two.)
The next day brought us to Gijon, Spain. Our complimentary transfer to the old town did not bode well for this day as it just seemed like a depressed city past its prime and on the economic decline. My wife and I wandered the streets with two of our friends, one of whom writes Spanish language books and the other takes photographs for them. It was interesting, but we all wondered where that special “thing” might happen.
As seems to usually be the case, I just had a feeling about a street so we wandered up it. We decided to have rest at a sideria; a bar/restaurant that specializes in the local specialty: a hard (alcoholic) apple cider that you are supposed to pour into a glass from an arm’s length above to aerate it. Why not? Well, as we sat there the friendly waiter came out and then the locals – including an absolutely adorable blonde-haired girl of about five pulling her father by the hand – went in. I believe we found our place for lunch!
Lunch had to include the Asturian speciality fabada; a thick white bean soup made with pieces of blood sausage, chorizo and ham. So after checking out a few more options it was back to the sideria for a feast…a feast that would wipe dinner off our plans for the evening on the Seabourn Pride. We started with a platter of local cheeses and cured meats. My friend, our guide, was surprised how good it was. It was so good and so big that could have been lunch, but no. I had to also order grilled sardines made with Asturian bacon. (It didn’t fit within our palate of foods, but I had to have them…but couldn’t finish them.) And the, now on our third bottle of sider, the fabada…which was delicious, but so heavy and filling.
I do have to say that if you looked Gijon had some wonderful architecture and some back streets and plazas did look a bit like old Madrid, but it was not our favorite port. So after lunch we headed back to the Seabourn Pride. And, as the seas were going to be a bit rough as we departed – with a Western swell in the Bay of Biscay – we opted for some quiet time in our suite. I did, however, head to the “my” hot tub as we departed, but even with a wonderful salt spray and all that warm water, it could not relieve the fullness of my lunch. I did wander out about 10:00 p.m. for a drink with our friends, but otherwise it was a very relaxing evening…well needed and appreciated after all of the events…with two more to go: Shopping with the Chef in A Coruna and the Food & Wine Tasting on our last day.