Monday, June 20, 2011

In Le Pays Basque

I am sitting in the breakfast room of the Grand Hotel in Bayonne eating corn flakes. The hotel has a very nice buffet so I can appreciate the breads, croissant, and pastries while I "improve" my cereal with yogurt, dried apricots, prunes, yogurt, and applesauce. I am also enjoying cheese and sausage. Last night we ate in Au Bistrot, next to the hotel, where I had entrecĂ´te en point and frites and Peter had a salad with tuna (not the same as a tuna salad). So am I now writing a food blog? Not exactly, but when you have food allergies, eating becomes a disproportionately
large part of your consciousness, mostly in terms of what you can and cannot eat. Travel only exacerbates this, but I don't intend to give up traveling because of food issues.

Today, walking around Bayonne, we found a natural food store that had a selection of GF food. I am now set with croissants and bread for several breakfasts to come. We had lunch in a natural foods restaurant where I was able able to get a complete meal with no problem. When we came out, some sort of festival was going on and there seemed to be all kinds of food. A group of chefs were singing Basque songs with accompaniment on guitar, accordion, tuba, harmonica and maracas.

We have met about half of our tour group. Some had been on other Rick Steves' tours, others had not. Somehow American travelers seem to find each other, probably because we are all speaking English or obviously non-native French.

This brings me to some observations on language or at least on my use of language. French is the only language that I studied for a sustained period of time. So I actually know enough for simple sentences and reading. But, while I find that I can consciously think in French in a kind of simultaneous translation sort of way, that doesn't mean that I can actually get those French sentences out. Instead of boldly trying to speak with errors, Franglais, etc., I can only manage to coax out a few disjointed words, in a practically inaudible voice.

The hotel has a computer, so we were able to check email, etc. I think I might be able to connect to the wireless system if the hotel could give me the settings, IP number, etc. but the receptionist doesn't know how to find them. So I am writing but not, for the moment, posting.

Tonight we had a group get-together including dinner at La Grange--fois gras, duck, sorbet--an excellent meal. French rather than Basque cuisine, buyer will have plenty of opportunities in the next week to sample Basque food. Tomorrow we start the actual tour.

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