Saturday, 15 November 2008

happy daze and warring mandolins

Waking up this morning it dawned on me just how darned happy I am here. We've been lucky enough to travel the world, stay in swanky hotels and enjoy turning left rather than right on more than our fair share of flights and compared to all that St Jean de Luz just feels good...

Daytime largely consisted of the usual Sunday ritual: breakfast (including some marvellous boudin noir), church, promenading, we saw some lovely rock formations (one for you Murray!), and of course hot chocolate. Today we treated ourselves at the wonderful Pâtisserie Etchebaster, home of the undisputed champion of chocolat chaud in St Jean de Luz. It's so chocolatey that they serve it with a pitcher of water - brilliant!

This evening we ventured to the Ravel auditorium for an evening of traditional Basque music. The auditorium is named after one of the town's favourite sons, famous for his Bolero not his shoe shops. A local children's choir opened proceedings and sang some old Basque lullabies, very sweet. Basque is a language that seems more suited to song than any other I have heard - we must try to learn some of the native tongue although our friends here say it takes at least four years to learn. The grown-ups arrived next and gave an acceptable performance of various choral pieces. Third on were a group of 30 guitars and mandolins. As they took to the stage we were a little unsure what to expect. A shrill serenade of strings moved from Celtic to Basque to Latino music and raised the roof. All very splendid. It sets us up nicely for another tough week ahead!