Surfing

Biarritz | France

CHARMING OCEAN-RESORT AND SURF HOT-SPOT

→ Whoever thinks Biarritz is a place for old ladies with little dogs is wrong…

…because this elegant seaside resort, that is located on the rough Atlantic Ocean, has been a hot-spot for surfing since the 60’s and offers great surfing conditions all year round. We quickly decide, this is the right place to be.

Having felt ill for a while, we check in at the hotel „La Regina“ to relax and recover for a few days. This beautiful and really impressive hotel in belle-époque style, that was built in 1907, takes you back in time and makes it seem that you are set at the beginning of the last century. The hotel is located a bit outside of the city center, elevated behind a stretch of cliffs and near the city’s lighthouse. Every day we enjoy the incredible view over the bay and watch the waves come in. This is the perfect spot to start the day, either for a walk to town or to the nearby beaches. In the early evenings, we enjoy some drinks at the impressive james-bond-like hotel bar and watch exciting European Cup football games.

Bar @ Sofitel MGallery Biarritz, FranceBar @ Sofitel MGallery Biarritz, France

A walk through Biarritz

We walk along the beach promenade toward the city center – the ocean and waves always in sight. We arrive at the city beach “Grande Plage” where the people of Biarritz and tourists sunbathe, beginners try their luck at the surf schools and locals show their skills in the roaring waves. We enjoy the relaxed atmosphere while catching some sun during a light ocean breeze. We walk through old town of Biarritz past impressive mansions from the turn of the 20th century in typical Basque style architecture with colorful shutters – painted in azure blue, green, dark red. Every now and then we see local surfers walk through the middle of the town dressed in wetsuits and their surfboard under their arms – a big advantage to have a city with a perfect surf beach right in front of your doorstep. Once a fishermen’s village, Biarritz became the summer residence of empress Eugénie in the year 1854 and has since flourished to be a cozy but energetic ocean-resort with its unique French flair.

Grand Plage Biarritz, France

Grande Plage Biarritz, France

It is really worth a visit to the local market hall “Les Halles” in the center of the city. Every morning until early afternoon, a number of stands sell typical French and regional Basque food specialties, but also regional ceramics and clothes can be found. Once done with shopping at the market, we sit at one of the many bars, brasseries and restaurants around the market hall to get a typical Basque lunch and local wine, while observing the scene.

We continue to walk along the beach promenade and pass the small fishermen’s harbor with small local seafood restaurants that serve fresh catches of the day and, of course, oysters from the region. We reach the “Rocher de la Vièrge”, a cliff in the middle of the ocean surrounded by water, and enjoy the stunning panoramic view of Biarritz and the French and nearby Spanish coast. We end our tour at the wind protected beach “Plage du Port View” – also know as “Arena” – and simply enjoy the wonderful view over the beach and ocean.

Our tips in Biarritz:

  • Oyster-Restaurant „La Cabane á Huitre“ – Best restaurant for fresh oysters
  • Café & Brasserie „La Coupole“ – Great fresh oysters, drinks and local meals in the middle of Biarritz
  • Healthy Snack Bar „Beach Garden“ – Near the city beach “Grande Plage”. Try the delicious Gazpacho!
  • Seafood Restaurant „Chez Albert“ – Great seafood in the old fishermen’s harbor of Biarritz
  • Beach Bar „Etxola Bibi“ – On top of an elevation by the beach „Cote des Basques“ with an amazing view over the coast
  • Ceviche Bar & Restaurant „Saline Ceviche Bar“ – Very delicious fresh Ceviche in many variations
  • Organic Supermarket “L’Eau Vive”
  • Surf Shop „Rip Curl Bidart“ – a surf shop that has everything you need and carries a nice selection of pro boards
  • A real insider tip is to watch the sunsets on the cliffs right behind the lighthouse at the north end of Biarritz. Although the path to get there is closed off, the locals just climb over the barriers and so do we…enjoying a “bottle” of local red wine with an incredible sunset in front of us
  • Find our favorite beaches at the bottom of the page…

After a short surf session at the Grande Page, we have a healthy snack at the nearby snack bar “Beach Garden”. They offer fresh salads, sandwiches, bagels and a very delicious Gazpacho. This place is a great alternative if you have missed lunch, as most places don’t really serve good food (apart from French fries) after 14:30 or before 19:00 in the evenings.

Arena Plage Biarritz, France

Arena Plage Biarritz, France

Back to good health and full of energy, we take our VW California to spend a few day on the 5-Star campsite “Le Pavillion Royal” between Biarritz and the town Bidart. We are lucky to get one of the best spots on the site with an amazing view over the coastal landscape and ocean. The campsite is very well maintained, clean and has direct access to a very long beach stretch that is also a top spot for surfing. We spend some days to discover the nearby surf beaches and visit the beautiful little town “Saint-Jean-de-Luz”, where we have some incredible typical Basque seafood food for dinner. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough time to visit the world heritage city San Sebastian in nearby Spain, as we need to move on and head north toward the city Nantes.

On our way north, we stop at the famous and the largest European sand dune “Dune du Pilat”, which measures 118 meters in height and is 2.7km long. We underestimate the hike up the dune, but get rewarded by the stunning panoramic view over the ocean and the bay of Arcachon.  We watch the sailboats cruising along the horizon and the many paragliders that pass through the air only meters away from us – the dunes offer perfect thermic conditions and people from all over Europe come to enjoy hang-time at this awesome place.

→ Check out our next stop:  Nantes | France

Lisbon | Portugal

MELANCHOLY AND PURE ZEST FOR LIFE

→ Finally we reach Lisbon – our favorite city in Europe! We’ve been here many times before, in this wonderful city right on the river Tejo. Every time we visit, we discover new and exciting things – the city has just so much to offer. What we don’t know on the day of arrival, it is Santo-António-Festival. At this annual event, the whole city celebrates the holy António, the patron of the city Lisbon. The streets are covered in colorful garlands, sardines (a national dish) are grilled and sold at nearly every corner and there is party music everywhere you go. Our hotel is in the middle of the traditional old-town Alfama, in the center of Lisbon. When we arrive at the hotel “Santiago de Alfama Boutique Hotel”, the whole city is a big party and there is not even the slightest chance to think of getting any sleep when everyone is celebrating in front of the hotel’s doorstep. Even being totally exhausted from a wedding that we’ve been to the night before, we decide to join the party and walk through the small streets of Alfama – we have the best time dancing, eating Sardines like the locals and just purely celebrating until the morning hours.

What a party, what a night!

The next day, not only we feel it, but the whole city seems to be hung-over. The streets are quiet and the people of Lisbon take it very easy on this lazy day, and so do we. We walk to the “Café a Brasileira”, a wonderful café from the turn of the 19th century in belle époque style and where intellectuals and artists of Lisbon used to meet. A double espresso and a couple of “Pasteis de Natas” (very delicious puff-pastry filled with vanilla and cinnamon pudding that should actually be forbidden for specific reason), we get enough energy to start the rest of the day. We continue walking to the district “Principe Real” that lies on a hilltop with many small boutiques, cafes and restaurants. We have lunch at “A Cevicheria” and enjoy different unique creations of ceviche at a stylish but relaxed atmosphere. For dessert we got some frozen yoghurt at “Frozz” right next door and walk across to the small park “Jardim do Principe Real” to enjoy our dessert on a bench underneath our favorite tree, a large really old cedar.

Gin Lovers Lisbon

Gin Lovers Lisbon

A few steps down the road, we then go to “Embaixada Concept Store”, an impressive antique villa (more like a small palace) with a number of small boutiques with unique and Portuguese products. We meet Fabio, a cool bartender of “Gin Lovers”, a bar and provider of well-selected global gins – this place is already well-known in Portugal, as we find out later in the city Porto. We have a nice conversation with Fabio and speak about Gin, his hometown Lisbon and his favorite hobby, cliff-diving (!). He then invites us to watch the next Portugal game of the European Championship the next evening together with his friends and family.

After a long last night and an extensive tour through Lisbon, we feel exhausted. Our feet are tired, so we take the famous tram number 28, which runs through the most prominent districts of Lisbon, back to our hotel. The white and yellow trams of the city go back decades and represent a landmark of Lisbon, they are still used as daily means of transport by the Lisbon people. In the evening, we take a sundowner and some Portuguese Tapas on the roof terrace of the Hotel “Memmo Alfama” with a stunning view over parts of Lisbon and the Tejo river.

6 weeks “on the road” take effect

Jan needs a haircut! “Facto Hair” is a really stylish hair saloon in the district Bairro Alto and the stylist André gives Jan a cut that fits to his already imposing moustache. We get some tips to take a short ferry-ride across the river Tejo to have some authentic fish-dishes in the city quarter “Cacilhas”.

In the early evening, we go after Fabio’s invitation and watch the Portugal vs. Island game in the small streets of Alfama with his friends and family. The game ends 1:1 and on the way home, we take a final drink at the bar “Ao Pé da Sé” in Alfama – on the men’s toilette, you will feel like Superman (see photo). As with many people in Lisbon, we have a nice conversation with the bartender Duarte – also a surfer, so we arrange to meet for surfing around his hometown Cascais, our next destination.

After exploring Lisbon the next day, we have a drink on the roof terrace of the “Bairro Alto Hotel” – a chilled Gin & Tonic and a view over the roofs of the city while the sun sets in the distance, is just the perfect way to end the day and our stay in Lisbon.

Here some additional tips for restaurants in Lisbon:

  • Manteigaria – Fabrica de Pastéis de Nata: the famous Pastéis de Nata are just the best and are served still warm (!) if you enjoy them in the shop
  • Cervejaria O Zapata: a small authentic restaurant with great Portuguese cuisine, served with fluorescent lights, TV and Portuguese tiles on the wall
  • Jardim da Cerejas: Indian restaurant with tasty vegan dishes – all you can eat lunch menu for unbeatable EUR 7,50 per person
  • Cervejaria Ramiro: great for all seafood lovers – this place serves seafood in the finest quality. You should consider reserving a table if you don’t want to wait in long lines for lunch or dinner
  • Espumantaria: a small selection with fresh Mediterranean dishes. And a small bar at the entrance to have an aperitif or drinks after dinner
  • Time Out Mercado da Ribeira: Old market hall with a large variety of food in all directions and some restaurants to have lunch or dinner
  • Ao Pé da Sé: A small cozy restaurant and bar in Alfama that serves great cocktails – you will find Superman in the men’s toilette

→ Check out our next stop: Cascais

→ Check out our next stop: Cascais

West Algarve | Portugal

SAGRES: SUN, BEACH & SURF

→ We reach Sagres in the South of Portugal. With more than 30 fantastic and scenic beaches in close proximity – almost each one is ideal for surfing – making Sagres a real surfers paradise in Europe. Yet the atmosphere is friendly and quiet. Apart from a number of surf shops, bars, cafés and restaurants, there is not much else than sun, beaches and great waves. It’s all about kicking back and relaxing!

Our daily morning-routine is: Espresso and Pastel de Nata at the café of the “Mareta Beach Boutique Hotel” and wave scouting at Sagres’ best surf spots: Mareta, Tonel and Beliche. Even though Sagres is a small, quiet secluded fishermen’s village on the far southwest part of Europe, you can get great food – especially fresh fish that comes straight from the fisher boats in the harbor of Sagres. Our favorite place for fish is the “Restaurante Zavial” directly on the beautiful beach “Zavial”. The owners and siblings Ivo and Neuza (the mom is the chef) are great boogie boarders and have won several international contests (you can see them on amazing photos on the walls of the restaurant).

Some tips for food around Sagres:

  • Pizza Mobile– small pizza place that also offers gluten free pizza in Salema
  • Three Little Birds – a surfer bar that offers great drinks, burgers, sandwiches & snacks
  • Restaurante O Lourenço – small but fine restaurant that offers a great selection of fresh fish and seafood
  • Chiringuito Last Chance – small café with a terrace and great view over Mareta beach that offers coffee, drinks, tapas and snacks

→ Check out our next stop: Lisbon

→ Check out our next stop: Lisbon