Mark's Eurotrip 2006 travel blog

Bastille Day. Headed to the beach.

The beach.


Steep climb up La Dune du Pyla

Race to the beach

So big.

Our train to Arcachon was comfy and we slept most of the way. One stop over in Bordeaux, and then to Arcachon. Once we arrived, we had NO idea how to get to our hostel, where it was, if it was even in the town. Apparantly we had to take a boat to get to it, thats about all we were told in broken english over the phone. It was so damn hot. Arcachon is a gorgeous beach town, but we had a bad taste of it, mostly due to the pain in the ass boat ride and half hour walk with our hundred pound bags to the hostel in Cap-Ferret, not Arcachon. If your going to go to Arcachon, go with money. I think its an incredible place... if you stay at a hotel. Our campsite/hostel was interesting. We were the only english speaking people and our 'dorm' room was actually a large oitdoor tent with filmsy cots set up in standard military fashion. Bryan's actually collapsed when he was sleeping. It was a great Bracey moment (for the few that might appreciate it). Sleeping with a bunch of loud French people in the intense heat required a strong constitution. Atleast it was cheap. After 'settling in' we headed out to whatever beach we could find to drink our wine and hopefully watch some fireworks for Bastille Day. We hiked a path through some small dunes to reach the beach, where we were greeted by the setting sun. A beautiful pink and orange glow that seemes to blend perfectly with the warm, soft looking water of the Atlantic. The beach extended for miles and was essentially vacant, although the pleasant fog could have skewed our vision. This made upt for the uncomfortable situation at our hostel. On our back up the path through the sand, fireworks began shooting up. Easily the most beautiful situation I've been in to watch fireworks.

The next day, woke up in a sweaty oven/tent and went to Arcachon by boat to get out tickets booked to Barcelona.

All booked up... until tuesday. It was saturday. We were absolutely screwed. After a lot of stressful scattered planning, we came up with a backup plan and a new itinerary. Sadly, Spain was out. But really... it wasn't at a loss. The new itinerary: Nice for 2 days, then Cinque Terre, Italy for 4 nights. and back to a place near Nice for 3 nights. We were sad to miss out on Spain, but we got a few more days in Nice, and Bryan got to see Italy. Can't complain.

The next day. We got the shit out of dodge and hiked the grueling path back to the port with our bags and took the boat to Arcachon. We left our bags at the train station since our train didn't leave till 7 to Nice. I took a bus to Dune de Pyla, on Dave Grillot's recommendation. Actually, Arcachon in its entirity was Dave's recommendation. But again, I'm sure he stayed in a nice hotel. Thats the way to do it. Its a beautiful place if you do it right. Anyways... Bryan wasn't too hot, so to speak, about hiking up a massive sand dune in the 35 degree heat. Cant blame him, but I had to go. I met two Russian girls on the bus and hiked up the massive dune with them. It really is a mountain of sand. The largest sand dune in Europe. The peak offered a panoramic view of the Atlantic, Arcachon, and Cap-Ferret. We ran down the burning hot sandy slope to the beach and wasted no time getting in the water. Me... in my rediculously bright blue/orange boxers. I probably woudl have fit in more with the ol green undies...more European. hmm. Speedos were a hot pick. Bad choice of words. Swimming in the Atlantic was fantastic. Unbeleivable refreshing. After, I said goodbye and made the grueling, near impossible hike up the large face of the dune. I had to run most of it to make the bus, nearly collapsing after the 25 minute run. The 35 degree heat and the burning sand sliding from under my feet as I ran up the steep slope made it excrutiatingly difficult, but it was well wortht he experience and the trip to the dune.

We caught the 7 pm to Nice. Overnight. Two stopovers. One in Bordeaux, one in Toulouse. The trip to Toulouse was an experience. A big thunder storm hit and the train had to stop for an hour and a half at a station just 40 mins from Toulouse.10-1130. We had no idea what was going on. The announcements were all in French. We kept our spirits up though, entertaining ourselves, trying to make light of the situation, accepting the fact that we were probably going to miss the train to Nice and sleep on the street. A crying baby on the train seemed to be fond of me. I dont know if him laughing everytime he looked at me was a good thing, but it seemed to make him stop crying. We got to Toulouse at 12:10. Our overnight train to Nice leaves at 12:08. We absolutely booked it, hoping the train was delayed (retarde). We got to the platform, looked at the sign: NICE 12:08 30mins Retarde. We started jupming and yelling in celebration, " Its retarded! Our train's retarded!" We were going to make it to Nice.

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