Catching Rays in Barcelona & Waves in Biarritz

April 2019

Friends invited us to join them and a group of around twenty on a surf trip to Biarritz, France. The group ranged from beginners to professionals with us definitely falling on the way beginner side. Always up for adventure (even though surfing in the Atlantic in April sounded super cold to me) we were excited to join for a guaranteed fun week of great food and friends. With two weeks to play with for the boys’ spring break, we decided to start the trip with a stop in Barcelona to fill up on plenty of sangria and sunshine making our way to Biarritz via Bilbao.

It was our first time exploring Barcelona and we definitely packed in all the sites in the few days we were there. We booked the apartment Art House Viladomat through AirBnb and it provided plenty of space and perfect location. Let’s talk first about the food. We tried our best to taste as many flavors as possible during our short visit. A few of our favorites:

  • 7 Portes: Traditional Barcelona restaurant serving amazing paella, sangria and local wines. The space is gorgeous with white table cloths and very attentive staff. Best to have a reservation.
  • Lolita Taperia: Vibrant tapas restaurant with the best sangria in Barcelona. The atmosphere is very laid back in inviting. We didn’t have a reservation and were able to get seats at the bar with no problem.
  • Xiringuito Escribà: This restaurant has everything we love – seats on the beach, fish straight from the ocean and an energetic vibe. We ate here for lunch and enjoyed a nice stroll on the beach after.
  • Ugot Bruncherie: Adorable brunch spot that was close to our apartment. The atmosphere is very eclectic and food is delicious.
  • Restaurante Taverna del Bisbe: We stopped here after touring La Sagrada Familia to fuel up with crepes and wine. The location is great and outdoor seating is a perfect place to people watch and take a pause.

There is so much to see and do in Barcelona. We were so lucky to have beautiful spring weather taking full advantage of the ocean breeze and sunny skies. I imagine every time you visit Barcelona there is something new to do. Here is a list of what we did over our three days:

  • Basílica de la Sagrada Família: Desigend by Antoni Gaudí, Sagrada Família is a combination of Gothic and Art Nouveau and one of the most fascinating basilicas we have ever toured. The stained glass windows and bright colors throughout are mesmerizing and absolutely breath taking. It’s good to have a reservation and easy to do online.
  • Park Güell: Beautiful public park located on Mount Carmelo overlooking the city that was also designed by Antoni Gaudí. Entrance to the park is free but you must pay to tour museum and other buildings.
  • Montjuïc Castle: An old military fortress on top of Montjuïc Hill overlooking the city and sea. We took a taxi to get to the fortress and then the funicular and cable car back down. There is also the Port Vell Aerial Tramway that crosses Port Vell (the old harbor) and runs up to Montjuïc Hill. The line for the Tramway can be very long so definitely plan accordingly.
  • Port Vell: After walking down the famous La Rambla, you will run directly into Port Vell the old harbor of Barcelona where you will find outdoor cafes, impressive yachts and a great place to take a break.
  • Playa de la Barceloneta: We wanted to feel the sand between our toes so stopped at Playa de la Barceloneta which is a lively beach lined with a variety of bars and restaurants. We stopped at Xup Xup restaurant for an afternoon snack and cocktail while the boys played in the sand not quite brave enough to test the chilly water.
  • Mercat dels Encants de Barcelona: As we were wandering around the city, we were drawn to an interesting building with a large mirrored ceiling so naturally had to take a look. It ended up being Mercat dels Encants, a huge outdoor flea market with the most interesting finds and definitely worth an hour or two to wander the booths.

We loved Barcelona. Lots and lots of walking, eating, drinking and unfortunately Scott did get his phone picked out of his pocket (for sure something to be aware of while visiting). After a busy few days exploring Barcelona it was time for us to head to France for the second half of our adventure tackling the Atlantic waves. A quick hour flight from Barcelona to Bilbao and then a two hour transfer up the coast and we were in Biarritz where we were dropped at the airport to pick up our rental car. We would have rented a car in Bilbao, however, a steep fee is charged to pick up a car in Spain and drop off in France so that made our decision easy. The Biarritz airport is super small so we were in and out of the rental lot in short time and on our way to meet our friends at our house in Guéthary.

Our group was split between two houses and our group of eleven stayed at Maison Centre Guethary avec PISCINE booked via AirBnb. The property inside and out was gorgeous and an easy ten minute walk to the city center and beach.

We spent a week surfing the beaches of Biarritz, Bidart, Guéthary and Saint-Jean-d-Luz. Our very patient and amazing surfing instructors were from École des Vagues surf school led by the lovely Nathalie Deffarge and François Delanne who are experts of the area and were very kind and generous with their time and knowledge. It was pretty clear that our family crew would not be hitting the pro circuit any time soon, but we did have fun giving it our best and getting a little bit better every day. When not in the water, we hiked the amazing trails along the beach and through the cliffs fueling at the cute snack shops and food trucks and also took in game of Basque pelota (jai alai).

For me a trip to the coast of France is all about the food and wine both of which we for sure got our fill of on this holiday. One of our friends we were with is a Guéthary local and knew exactly where to eat and drink. There are too many places to list so I just picked a few of our favorites:

  • Hétéroclito: We ate here on our first night catching the end of the sunset and surfers riding their last waves. The restaurant overlooks the water and has a great patio.
  • Ilunabar Guethary: Casual surf bar on the water with great drinks and easy bites.
  • Le Poinçon: Our group rented out the restaurant for a big dinner and were spoiled with excellent food, wine and service. They also have a super cute patio perfect for cocktails and outside dining.
  • Bodega Txamara: This was our favorite little tapas spot right on the water. It is super causal and a perfect lunch spot.

Our holiday came to an end and it was time to head home. The route was a painless journey from Biarritz to Paris to Nuremberg. We were all happy to be home after two weeks on the road filled with sunshine in our hearts and sea salt in our hair. The pro surfing tour will just have to wait, but I am definitely more than happy to keep working at it if that includes going back to the beautiful surfing towns in France.

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