Cock and Bull Stories

The adventures of a 20 year old student traveling around Europe.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Surfin Surfari



I'm back, and in one piece from my trip to SW France / NW Spain for some surfing. The trip overall was good but not as nice as I had expected it to be. I arrived in Biarritz after a good nights sleep in a train at 7am and Toby, the surfari leader, picked me up in his shady early 80's beat up VW bus with surfboards piled on high.

Since Toby and the other two people in the van had stayed out late the previous night, we decided to get some coffee in the train station cafe. While we sipped our cafe ole, we started talking to these other Americans who happened to be from Pepperdine in Malibu, California. They were studying in Paris and had taken a trip down to Biarritz for some beach lounging as well as watching some Quik Pro WCT action. Toby decided that it would be fun to take them to the beach with us and go surfing, so we did. One of the kids, Bobby, actually lives in San Clemente when not in school which was kind of a cool coinsidence (San Clemente is about an hour south of Huntington Beach where my parents live).

Once we got to the beach, we scoped out some clean shoulder high sets rolling through, got our trunks and boards and paddled out. I didn't realize how out of surf shape my arms were until it took me a good while to actually paddle out to the break. haha! After I got out there it took me a while to catch a good wave but once I did I was stoked. I just wanted to ride all day but my arms were so tired after a while that I couldn't paddle much longer. After a good little break, we went back out to catch a few more, ate some lunch and then made our way to pick up two other people as well as drop off our friends near their hotel.

After retrieving the couple (one from Canada, the other from Austrailia) we headed up to Hossegor to watch some Quiksilver Pro France action. The waves weren't very good, mostly chest high, occational head high, sets that were totally blown out. However, somehow these pros can take the shittiest wave and turn it into the best ride I've ever gotten. After watching the likes of Taj Burrow, Mark Occopulco, Jeremy Flores, among others, we walked around the contest sight and then headed back to the van for some dinner. After we ate our nachos and sangria off the hood of some old beater parked behind us, we made our way to downtown Hossegor for some post contets night life. Since Hossegor is such a small town, there was only 1 bar that everyone had congregated at. It was so crowded that I could barely get to the actual bar to get a drink! One thing is for sure though, the surfer style of dress and attitude is the same world wide. I felt like I was back on Main St. in Huntington again, aside from people speaking French.

After a few drinks there, we were all real tired so we went back to the van, got the tents and set up camp on the beach only to get rained on in the morning! When I woke up, however, I took a peek over to the contest sight and there were overhead barrels rolling through on the beach break. The waves weren't coming in so fast and were so short that they were almost unridable, eventhough a few locals were getting tubed for a good second.

Then we took down our tents and headed back to the van to see what the plan for the day was. Since it was raining, Toby suggested that we head to San Sebastian, Spain for the day/night since he didn't want to get rained on again. We all agreed and off to San Sab we went.

We arrived at the hostel that Toby frequents, set up our stuff and hit the beach that was only a 10 minute walk away. Some of the kids at the hostel were saying that it was as flat as a lake out there so I brought a bit 7'6" fun board out, however, once we got out there there were some solid chest high + sets coming in. The main break was filled with locals and even a contest. I tried to catch a few waves but, not wanting to upset the locals, let them have most of them. One of the guys from the hostel was catching all sorts of stuff on his 9' board and got in a verbal argument with a local which was pretty amusing. Apparently it happens a lot and they will even try and threaten you with the old, "let's settle this on the beach" deal but when you agree, they just paddle back near their friends and hide.

After avoiding any Basque confrontations, I walked back to the hostel with hopes of going to the clubs in San Sebastian. Everyone else at the hostel wanted to do the same so we hung out for a while until the clubs started getting busy. I got tired of wating around talking to people that I had no interest in talking to so I read my book in my bunk bed waiting for Toby to come get me so we could go out. Unfortunatly, I fell asleep reading and Toby just 'forgot' to wake me up before he went out. I woke up at 8:30am, got my book off the floor and continued reading outside when Toby and this other girl from the hostel walk in at 9am from the bars. Obviously wasted, Toby appologized for not waking me, gave me his wetsuit and I went out surfing again, this time with a 6'4" in hand.

As I got out to the beach, the white wash was really intense and after a good 15 minute paddle out, I sat, waiting as the waves progressively got bigger and bigger. At one time I think the swell rolling through was about 8 or 9 feet high, and I was scared! Not even the locals were dropping in on these terribly shaped waves. After I saw a few guys drop in with unknows success, I decided I might as well do the same. I paddled a little farther towards shore and the next wave that came was already breaking at the time I was paddling. I was already fully committted to catching it and next thing I knew, I'm going over the top followed by a good 20 second hold down with enough time to catch my breath before the next waves of the set came pummeling through. After a good 5 minutes of diving under white wash, I decided to ride back into shore to take a break. After a good rest and a nice conversation with an old guy in Spanish (take in mind I don't even really speak Spanish), I headed back out for a wave or two before I made my way back to the hostel to get a ride to the train station so I could go home.

Once I got to the hostel, Toby was passed out in his bead with no hopes of waking him up. His friends even tried shaking him with the hopes of offering him a lit cigarette to wake him up but it was to no avail. Fortunately, his friend Jeff drove me to the station since he was already planning on going surfing somewhere in France anyway.

After I found out that the train was fully booked, I got a later train that would get me into Metz only 20 minutes before my first class. Jeff and the rest of the gang suggested I tag along with them while they go surfing and they could drop me off at the train station later, which we did.

Finally I got back to the Biarritz train station with about 5 hours to kill. I decided to just start walking down the main road for a good 20 minutes to find a nice spot to watch the sun set. After wanderin through this neighborhood having a small cat follow me, I headed back to a pizzarea for a beer and a pizza. After I was done with that, I sat in the train station for another hour or two, reading my book awaiting my train. Once I got on it, it was no big deal getting home with only one transfer in Paris, the only problem: get to class on time. Luckily, I got a bus that took me from the trian station to campus and after a short jog to the GTL building, I got there just in time to not have a quiz that day. At least I got to class on time though.

So, all in all, the trip was pretty fun eventhough there were a few boring/dissapointing parts. I think if I could do it over again I would have either gone to Biarritz NOT with the surfari thing or to Oktoberfest with my friends. Either way, it was nice to get back in the water, thats for sure.

Well, next weekend should be really exiting as well with a trip to Interlaken, Switzerland for some bunjy jumping, white water rafting, and any other life threatening activities I can get into.
Until then, au revoir!

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