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Day 15, Hola Espagne, Hondarribia

That's a large part of my Spanish vocab used on day one. Top priority on the learning Spanish front was to be able to order coffee, Cafe con leche grandee is my best effort so far.

Unusual day this, based on lack of confidence with crossing in to spain and what was forecast to be a wet day, only thing planned in was to take a small boat ferry across the river from Hendaye to Hondarribia, think crossing the Hamble river from Hamble Village to Warsash. Distances are the same, places are just a bit bigger, the ferry boat not that much.

So I gave myself a slightly later start for breakfast, hoping the massive meal I'd had the evening before might have worn off. It hadn't, I'm still pretty stuffed and with no real effort to be expended today, need to keep the food intake down.

The breakfast buffet is impressive - what a bummer. The waiter man is a bit of a french version of Manuel. We get in to conversation about my trip. The more he gets excited, the faster he speaks. I've noticed I have an unhelpful habit of the more I'm not understanding the french, the more I nod and say Oui, I've no idea why I do it. The effect was that Manuel spoke even more rapidly not realising I wasn't getting a word of what he was on about. Then he keeps piling more food on my table. You can't then not eat it can you.

One interesting bit of the conversation which I did get was when I explained I was Irish. This made him much happier as he explained he'd visited London quite a few times and found the english especially not nice. I did more nodding and Oui'ing.

Contrary to the forecast, it's not raining, just damp. Everywhere is still wet from the inundation of the evening before.

I cycle around Hendaye to see it for the last time and arrive at the ferry boat pontoon. I'm catching the first boat of the day.

It's only a small boat with the skipper. I walk with the bike down to the pontoon and wait for him to wave me on board. I'm going to be his only customer. He looks closely at the bike and asks me if it's electric. I don't think he's a cycling enthusiast, I think he's looking for an excuse to tell me I can't take the bike on the ferry. I decide to play dumb. He then starts explaining in broken English i can't put an e-bike on the ferry, the notice at the top of the gangway says so. I continue to play dumb and put on the most pathetic face i can.

If he won't take me I'm in trouble. After what seems like ages, there's a massive shrug of the shoulders and sigh and he gestures me on board. Suddenly the storm clouds lift and I get the bike on as quickly as possible before he changes his mind.

I pay the 2 euro ticket and give him an extra 2 euro tip in gratitude. He thanks me for the coffee. I think we're now mates.

Another flipping tide moment. I'd noticed the first two nights ago in Capbreton, with a clear sky, a brilliant, bright and full moon. I'd thought to myself then ah, spring tides. Need to remember that when you're on a cycling journey.

'm crossing this river on the ferry boat now and it's low spring tide. Why is it always the wrong way round. As I look ahead at the pontoon on the other side, it's so low due to the low tide, the wooden gangway is almost vertical. It's going to be super slippy as everywhere is wet and I've got 3 tons of bike and luggage to push up. This could be one reason they won't take e-bikes on the boat. I can't possibly prove him right, so I'm thinking of all the possible ways I can get this bloody bike up the gangway. It was a big and very slow shove, but I made it. I cycled off quickly.

It was now about 10.30 and I couldn't check-in until 3pm, so I had a large part of the day to kill. Fortunately it didn't rain. I cycled round Hondarribia a few times, it is a very pretty place with an historic central castle, up on high ground, which has been turned into a Parador hotel. Something the Spanish do brilliantly to their ancient buildings to keep them in use. Given the eating situation, I had to keep the cafe stops to an absolute minimum, which has very hard given I had nothing else to do. Anyway, I have succeeded in largely fasting so I can go mad tomorrow.

I've really got lucky on the hotel. It's the poshest by miles so far, the room is massive, bathroom has a bidet, which I almost pee'ed in as I wasn't expecting it. I was desperate as I got in to the room and the loo was hidden behind the open door.

It's a short distance in length to my next stop in Spain, Getaria, but 1000m of elevation en-route, so we'll see how that works out.

Cycled 17 km just going nowhere

Distance so far 1283 km


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