Monday, September 17, 2007

San Sebastian, Spain :: Donostia, Euskadi

During my stay in Biarritz I made sure to budget some time to take a day trip down to San Sebastian. Northern Spain is the heart of the Basque / Euskadi Region. You really feel it when you cross the border from Hendaye to Irun. There is something that lingers in the air of a separatist city. The only thing I can really relate it to is paddling out at surf spot that you didn't grow up at. A little bit of tension keeps you on your toes, and if you're tuned in enough to sense it you know how to show respect.
As long as I can remember I have wanted to be older, to play with the bigger kids, to be an upper classmen, to start my career, to be more advanced in my career, etc... Zurriola surprised me with a waist high clean swell and a lesson in life. I went down to the surfboard rental kiosk and rapped out with kid working there and rented a board for an hour. While walking down to the waters edge I overheard a kid in his late teens giving a surfing lesson in broken English. After my first wave I though to myself, "Why the fuck didn't you do this in college?" I guess what I was asking myself is why didn't I move to Spain for a summer to polish my Spanish, look for that European summer love that I never had, or to just adapt to a foreign culture. After all these kids were doing the exact same thing I had except in Spanish. On the train ride back to Biarritz I realized that for the first time in my life I wished I was younger. Was this a sign of getting old or a peak moment in life when you still want to be older yet wish you could be younger? I think it is all of the above. However if you told me 4 years ago while I was in California that I'd be living in NYC today I would have put down my burrito and then proceeded to tell you to put down your crack pipe. Who knows maybe someday life will place me back on the shores of Zurriola on a more permanent basis. But one thing I know is to never say never.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

J' aime Biarritz

My first memory of Biarritz is standing in the Grande Plage parking lot with my sister and brother-in-law in December of 1991. While I macked down on my chocolate eclair I thought man that surf looks cold. Sixteen years later I am emailing Franck Bywalski of Extreme Video asking if I could borrow his longboard while I was in town. I did not expect him to offer me the spare bedroom in his beach side bachelor pad overlooking Grande Plage. None the less he did, and made my fourth journey to Biarritz the most decadent to date. Surfwise I caught some fun logging waves out front but my best session was up the road in Anglet at a break called Le Barre. I caught the wave of the day that session only to be dropped in by a french girl on a longboard. She turned around and in a patented french girl accent yelled out "soooorry....." How did she know my native tongue? I hadn't spoken a single word to anyone while I was in the water. More importantly how can you be angry at such a cute accent?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Paris :: Je Voudrais

Ah... Paris. Beautiful women, decadent street cafe dwelling, and yes little patience towards Americans. For example a young drunk frenchman approached me in the St. Andres des Art neighborhood and asked me 2 questions. "Are you an American?" "Do you like George Bush?" My response was. "Yeah I'm an American and no I don't like George Bush." Then I asked him "Do you like Napoleon?" His response was "...well no." I guess the reason I tell that story is because whenever I think of Paris I think of extreme beauty and mild cultural conflict. Not enough conflict to ever drive you away, but pull you closer. I mixed a bit of business and pleasure for 5 days, but the whole time i kept my eyes on the prize, a weeks vacation chasing Basque waves.