Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rafting in Bidarray!!!!

We planned a little surprise for a friend... rafting on the river Nive in Bidarray! The weather was quite gray but we hardly stopped laughing during the whole day... we brought our own sunshine!

Thanks to our guide Pierre who expertedly took care of these four girls that equalled eight... I hope to be back next summer with the children!

(The pictures show Nive with very little water - when it has rained alot or in springtime is is quite a different story with steps of up to 2.5 metres since the river is not regulated)

The river is breathtakingly beautiful... here a picture from one of the calmer parts.

We went with Ur Ederra, but there are at least two others: Cocktail Aventure and Uhina.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Yearly festival in my village Castets III

And there were also dancing on stilts, Spanish horses, fun fair and a demonstration of 'corrida' (with a cow and no blood)..... and lots of partying late at night... and then it was over for this time...

Yearly festival in my village Castets II

Then there were the cow games... a lot of emotion and adrenaline here too!!! Adults in the crowd are invited to join... they are mostly young fearless men.....

The instructions were clear: if you get  into trouble, lie down with your hands on your head and don't move until we tell you so!

Or run for the fence!

The game is to get the red 'cocarde' on top of the cows' head.....

... so they need to get close. Very close.

The same game but for the kids, with a very cute calf!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Yearly festival in my village Castets I

Up until 1999 there used to be an arena for course landaise in our village. They were falling apart and destroyed at that time... and this year the mayor decided to bring a mobile version to the same spot for the yearly village festival! I think it was a great idea to revive the old traditions.

Beautiful, Spanish inspired costumes

He attracts the cow to avoid her going for the guy who just jumped!

Concentrated fascinated children

The rope handler has an important role to play, making sure the cow starts from the exact right position

During the break, some Spanish dances!

A training instrument?

The adrenaline is for real. Sometimes the cow gets too close....

He made a run for it and barely escaped...

Look at his face!

It looks like he is too close but he made it. The closer the better.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Drinking Sauternes a whole day...

Château d'Yquem

We spent a whole day drinking Sauternes... wonder if that is really healthy? Looking back it wasn't difficult. Wine tasting at the premier cru classé Château Coutet.... Lunch at the one star Michelin restaurant Claude Darroze with three different Sauternes.... and a visit to the legendary Château d'Yquem... tasting a 2008 Yquem was a great way to end a great day! (My anniversary might have had something to do with all this).

This day was organised by the Sauternes tourist office. I very rarely participate in organised events but I really appreciated this one!

I learned that Sauternes is a very small wine district. It represents about one percent of the Bordeaux region total production. The area has a micro climate due to topological reasons. The cold river Ciron falls into the warmer river Garonne, creating morning fog in autumn that spreads over the Sauternes area but is kept within it by the pine trees on one side and the slope on the right side of the Garonne river. Perfect for the Botrytis Cynerea, the fungus responsible for the noble rot necessary to create this sweet wine. And even better with the warm and sunny afternoons, needed to mature the raisin.

I also learned that at Yquem they harvest by hand, raisin after raisin, passing several times by the same grapes to pick them at the perfect moment. They are famous for their quality requirements, so tough that some years they don't even produce a wine with their grapes. (In that case they sell them anonymously as Sauternes grapes...)

Château Coutet

Lunch at Claude Darroze, among many other delicate servings, what about lamb with your Sauternes? (I don't even show the foie gras crème brulée, nor the lobster ravioli or the Aquitaine caviar...)

Look at the different colors of our three sauternes, the deepest being from 1973... and the other two both 2005.

View over the Yquem vines... the castle is on top of a small hill.

Old traditions...

The Yquem grapes before the fungus start its action.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What non surfing friends do.....

... meanwhile on a beach close to you.... to summarise I think we can agree there was a lot of digging going on, taking photos, swimming and checking out the beach guards...
(Erretegia in Bidart)

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