Visiting the Basque Country: Biarritz and San Sebastian

After a rather difficult year, I was badly in need of a break and my holiday in Biarritz and San Sebastian was just that.

We booked this holiday prior to my accident and it gave me something to look forward to.

We’d found reasonably-priced flights to Biarritz and after I read Indie and Lily’s blog post on San Sebastian, we decided to spend two nights there also.

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With the cost of two Airbnb’s and renting a car, it was definitely one of the more expensive holidays I’ve been on.

As we’d booked it a long time in advance, it gave me time to save up spending money, however, I did find myself buying clothes for holidays all summer…

I was worried about how my injury would affect my enjoyment of holidays but I actually walked for at least an hour most days.

The most amazing thing happened during our first evening there. I walked a few steps without my crutches! (I’d been trying to do this for some time but could only lurch rather than walk).

I couldn’t believe it as it had been FOUR MONTHS since I had last walked. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing when I showed my boyfriend and I almost cried with happiness!!

Biarritz is a hilly city so there were lots of inclines for me to navigate.

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Biarritz coast

Our Airbnb host informed us that there was a free shuttle bus (the navette) into the city centre every day and we made use of that on several occasions.

However, the city centre navette only ran till 7.30 pm, which meant we usually went for dinner in the local area.

This wasn’t an issue though because our apartment was only 10 minutes from the bustling Les Halles area, full of restaurants and bars.

Our Biarritz Airbnb was a charming retro apartment with a huge terrace.

We spent most of our time at the apartment on the terrace eating outside or chilling in the sun. It was about a 15-minute walk from the city centre but on crutches it took longer.

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The terrace complemented my dinner outfit.

One thing I immediately noticed was that there seemed to be few chain restaurants and stores.

I didn’t see one MacDonalds or Starbucks which was really refreshing. (That’s not to say they weren’t there but there certainly aren’t as many as at home…)

We stuffed our faces with delicious food, from ice-cream to seafood, burgers and frites, churros, croque madames et monsieurs and croissants.

Biarritz is full of gastronomic delights and my diet went right out the window!

Alcohol was also plentiful and I enjoyed several delicious mojitos!

We didn’t really go shopping in Biarritz apart from a brief trip to Galeries Lafayette but this was just for a browse.

We took two day trips, one to St Jean de Luz, a pretty little Basque town.

We lounged on the beach and enjoyed lunch there. I even managed to get into the sea and swim – yay!

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Basque or Euskara is a bit of linguistic mystery, it has no relation to any other European language.

As we drove out of Biarritz, we saw more signs in Basque and signs featuring the Basque cross.

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Sunday was rainy and we decided to drive up into the Pyrenees to a town named St Jean Pied de Port.

The town is famous for being part of the Camino de Santiago Compostela.

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Streets of St Jean Pied de Port

The hilly town wasn’t the easiest for me to negotiate but we walked right to the top of the town, stopping off for a coffee and a trip to a tiny local museum.

Walking up the steep hilly cobbled street in the rain was no mean feat!

I then took a rest while my boyfriend climbed up the Citadelle, a 17th century fortress sitting on the highest point in town. 

On our last day in Biarritz, we wanted to visit the two main tourist attractions, the Rocher de la Vierge, a statue of the Virgin Mary which resides on a rock formation in the middle of the ocean and Le Phare, the historic lighthouse overlooking Biarritz.

However, my injury presented challenges as the Rock of the Virgin entails a long walk out on a metal footpath and the lighthouse has 258 steps and no lift!

We decided to catch a little tourist train out to the Rock of the Virgin (we thought it would let us off but instead it just stopped on the promenade).

This meant we only saw the rock from the distance but given my limited mobility, it was for the best.

It was ‚ā¨6 for a round trip which dropped us back to the city centre.

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Le Phare lighthouse

We drove to the Le Phare and enjoyed taking some photos of the beautiful scenery outside.

I decided against the climb and enjoyed a coffee instead.

The weather was mid-20’s to low 30’s most days with our final day being the warmest and most humid.

We’d gone to the beach that morning to catch a few rays.

That evening there was a thunderstorm which we enjoyed watching out the terrace doors.

After the storm passed, we went to a hipster burger joint called Bonheur. I wasn’t too hungry so just had fries with parsley and garlic -delicious!

The next day we had to rush as we got a message from our host asking if we’d left – we had forgotten to check what time we had to check out at! Oops!

Luckily, we were pretty much packed and ready to go and we set off for San Sebastian or Donostia as it’s known in Basque.

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The streets of San Sebastian

We were only in San Sebastian for two days but it was a wonderful two days.

Buses were plentiful so we didn’t need to use our car.

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Plaza de la Constitucion San Sebastian.

Our first day was spent strolling through the city streets in search of pinxtos.

We soon found a pinxto bar on a side street called Bardulia.

We sampled a mix of cold pinxtos here but to be honest they were quite underwhelming.

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Pinxtos

I noticed that one street was called 31 Agosto and when I discovered that’s because the city was burned to the ground by invaders on the date, apart from that one street.

We arrived on the 29th and apparently, there’s a commemoration on the 31st every year but we were leaving early that day.

We meandered down as far as La Concha promenade and took in the beautiful spectacle of the shell-shaped beach.

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La Concha Beach San Sebastian
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Views from the promenade.

The promenade is lined with ornate white railings with old-fashioned street lamps at the entrance to the beach.

Beside the promenade was a stunningly beautiful carousel which stood out against the bright blue sky.

That evening we had burgers and one of the best mojitos I had all holidays at a restaurant called Muuk in the main square.

The burgers came with a tiny serving of potato shavings, kind of like mini chipsticks!

The following day we went to the beach where I finally got to wear my new bikini from PLT.

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It turned rainy in the afternoon so we went shopping.

I had my heart set on a Longchamps bag but I hadn’t time to go to the Longchamps store in Biarritz.

However, we tracked down the only store selling Longchamps in the area.

N.B shops in San Sebastian tend to close between 2-4, so be aware of this if you are shopping.

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Frizzy hair don’t care

The store in question, Styl, didn’t have a huge stock of Longchamps bags but I decided to get a navy rucksack.

While Stan Smiths were everywhere in Biarritz, in San Sebastian, everyone seemed to sport a Levis t-shirt. I picked one up in Noa and Judy for ‚ā¨25.

I also bought an Iron Maiden tee in Donostia Rock for ‚ā¨24.

After that I wandered through Stradivarius and Bershka, unfortunately, I didn’t get to Zara or Sephora. *sobs*

On our last evening, we stayed in with pizza and beer and watched some ridiculous Spanish TV.

There were some bizarre sketch shows that made us laugh but seeing bullfighting on one channel was horrible.

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Church San Sebastian

I highly recommend both cities and wish we could’ve had more time to explore San Sebastian. Have you ever been to either? Let me know.

PS I’ve been very busy lately so haven’t had any time to blog but will hopefully have an autumn trends post coming soon.¬†Thanks for reading and check out¬†my¬†Instagram,¬†Twitter¬†and Facebook page¬†here.

Edel

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Flat shoe frolics

I’m currently laid up with a broken ankle after an accident involving a seven-foot fall off a ladder onto concrete. This was followed by a 13 hour wait in A & E and a five day wait for surgery to put me back together.

But I’ll stop the “woe-is-me” diatribe now… I’m very lucky that it wasn’t a lot worse!

The day before my accident, I was enjoying myself browsing summer shoes in town.

From sliders to espadrilles to trainers, there are so many cute flat shoes available at the moment. So although I won’t be wearing two shoes for quite some time, here’s a post on summer shoes for all you lucky people with two working ankles.

Espadrilles

Espadrilles are Spanish for summer (maybe that’s not true) and they are always a staple in my summer wardrobe.

Penneys have some really nice espadrilles right now in gingham, denim and tropical prints.

However, I tried on a denim pair and my normal size didn’t fit right or feel very comfortable. If you are looking for long-lasting espadrilles, maybe give Penneys a miss.

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Tropical print and gingham espadrilles. Pic: Primark.com

Asos shoes are generally good quality and I love these black espadrilles scattered with tiny plastic flowers.

At ‚ā¨56, they are pricey but check out my online shopping hacks post for tips on getting a discount.

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Embellished espadrilles. Pic: Asos.com

Asos stock Soludos espadrilles which are one of my favourite summer shoe brands.

You can even buy two packs of Asos’ own brand espadrilles from Asos if you really really love your espadrilles!

You can buy espadrilles with a slight wedge for a bit of height or lace-up styles but I like the simple slip-on flat style the best.

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Soludos denim espadrilles. Pic: C21.com

For the perfect summer holiday espadrilles it has to be this pair from Bershka.

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Bershka espadrilles. Pic: Bershka.com

I love the nautical stripes and adorable gold design, I can almost see myself strolling the sands of Biarritz in them. Life consists of hopping on crutches and lying down right now…

Runners

I love finding comfy runners in cute summery shades, the day before my accident I bought pastel blue suede trainers from Penneys.

The material makes them look more expensive than their very purse-friendly price tag of ‚ā¨15. They are also available in pink.

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Several pairs of runners caught my eye in Penneys including this holographic silver pair, also only ‚ā¨15.

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Silver trainers. Pic: Primark.com

If I said “denim shoes”, you’d probably reply with “Get the fuck out” but bear with me. Denim shoes are having a moment. Take these cute embellished runners from Missguided, for example.

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Embroidered denim runners. Pic: Missguided.com

They are also available in white and I’m a big fan. Embellishment isn’t just for jackets, you know!

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White embellished trainers. Pic: Missguided.com

Sliders

Sliders are absolutely HUGE this summer, there is no escaping them.

I’m not sold on all the fluffy styles that seem to be very popular but there are some that I do like.

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Fluffy sliders from the River Island High Summer press day

I know for a fact my amazing orthopaedic surgeon would wince at these silver backless sliders and I probably won’t be wearing them any time soon but how cute are they?

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Silver frill sliders. Pic: Bershka.com

I also like these white ones featuring a lip design from Missguided.

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White sliders with lips. Pic: Missguided.com

If you aren’t already following O-Mighty/OmWeekend on Insta, then you need to get following, their denim sliders are UNREAL.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTwYKrRDXgF/?taken-by=omweekend

They also have adorable satin sliders in oriental prints, one of this summer’s biggest trends.

Frill details and western-style buckles are really popular slider trends this summer.

Sandals

I personally don’t like flip-flops very much and will always go for a pair of sandals where possible.

I know this post is already overloaded with denim shoes but I love these denim bow Miss KG sandals from Topshop.

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Denim cork sandals. Pic: Topshop.com

 To be honest, most of these sandals are just pimped slides.

Mango have an amazing range of summer slides and sandals this year, check out these lilac slip-on beauts with frayed details and these flower applique sandals.

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Lilac slip on shoes. Pic: Mango.com
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Floral sandals. Pic: Mango.com

It’s hard to finish this post because there are so many gorgeous shoes I would love to include in it!

For now, stylish footwear (and any kind of style) will be taking a back seat in my life. I’m currently hobbling around in a giant orthopaedic boot, taking precarious showers perched on a stool and taking an assortment of painkillers everywhere I go.

Hope you all enjoyed this post, leave me a comment below and let me know.

Thanks for reading and if you would like to follow me on social media,  check out my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page here.

Edel

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Rooftop Vibes

I’ve been experimenting with some outfit posts lately and took some photos on the roof of my old apartment. As I discovered it’s pretty hard take photos by yourself so excuse the dodgy ones. This is a spring outfit, wearing my lovely floral imitation leather jacket from River Island, ¬†blue Bershka jeans, Topshop shoes and the watch is from Urban Outfitters.

I’d lusted over the jacket for ages before finding it on sale for ‚ā¨35, the jeans and lace-up shoes I bought in the Christmas sales. I’d wanted a pair of lace-up ghillie shoes for ages and these didn’t disappoint! However I don’t recommend them for an 8 hour shift on your feet, they are too flat for that.

side of jacket

I really like the stitching on the sleeves and the zips. The only issue I have with biker jackets is they can be very small-fitting and the next size up was too big. So I’m restricted to wearing only a thin top or jumper inside.

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This is one of my favourite summer looks and I’m looking forward to posting more looks soon.

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Hope you liked this outfit post, leave me a comment below and let me know. I’m busy working on my dissertation for college at the moment but also lots of summer posts planned for the blog.¬†You can follow @joyofblogs on Instagram and Twitter or see my Facebook page here. Thanks for reading as always.

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Edel