December 24, 2010 Dune du Pilat/San Sebastian

We wake up to snowy rooftops in Eymet. Perhaps the little church was not vigilant last night. But it is not enough to hinder travel and we depart Eymet for our first stop, the Dune du Pilat.

Almost there
Actually, there are a couple of things in France named after Pilat. There’s also a park. But this dune is reportedly the highest sand dune in Europe. It’s about 150 feet high. We are excited to see our namesake but first we stop for lunch in Arcachon.

Arcachon is an attractive seaside town on the Arcachon basin which is arm of the Bay of Biscay. But today is no day for lolling about on the beach. It is co-old. And the wind is howling. We stop at a noname place for lunch to get out of the wind. John and Sarah order moules. It seems the most popular dish here.

moules and frites
I am not so much a fan so I order sole and show off by taking all the fillets off the bone while my poor fish stares up at me with his lopsided eyes. Arcachon, for those fans of Anthony Bourdain, was the summer vacation spot for the Bourdain family.

After lunch we arrive at the Dune du Pilat. Sarah is excited to pose by our namesake.

Yeah, it's named after us
Yeah, it’s named after us. We hurry to the gift shop to buy up all the souveniers. But, oh no, every last article has the alternate (and incorrect) spelling, Dune du Pyla. Darn, I was going to get cute t-shirts for Nathan and Sam. Really annoying.

We take the path through the woods and behold the great Dune du Pilat. It’s really big.

Dune du Pilat

We leave a little sand graffiti.

Sand graffiti
Pilat was here.

Now we need to hurry on to San Sebastian to get there before dark. The drive is no trouble and we get to San Sebastian and check in around 5 PM. We are staying at the Villa Soro which Sarah says is “swank.” I’ll have some pictures of it tomorrow. We need to hurry and get cleaned up for our fancy Christmas Eve dinner at the Maria Christina Hotel, the best hotel in town. Unfortunately, only two restaurants are open tonight, Saigon, at the Maria Christina and another one to which one has to wear formal clothes. So we are having Vietnamese food tonight!

Well, what a disappointment. The food was neither Vietnamese nor good. San Sebastian, a mecca for foodies, has let us down. The food was kind of like what you would get at Panda Express. I am sure the people who do my nails would not recognize it as Vietnamese. I am not going to bother with posting pictures of all of it. But here’s a picture of the lobster which could have been good if they had given you any way of getting into it. Except for the tail, the meat was difficult to get out. Plus it had a sauce on it which made it impossible to hold on to. We emerged from that course coated in sauce. (No shellcrackers, no towelettes) The waitstaff was unpleasant as well. So all in all a bad experience. We are hoping for better tomorrow.

Difficult lobster

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