|Lesaka plaza, living quarters left and right|
|Etxalar and its discoidal headstones|
|The Grand Cavern of Zugarramurdi|
|Rear of oratory on Aita Donostia|
|"Monumento a Aita Donostia" by Oteiza|
Easier to get Anal Jelly than Fresh Milk
A Traiteur at last and the Witches of Zugarramurdi
What is France coming to? The butcher up the street fecks off on holidays for most of June. What is the holidaymaker supposed to do for a traiteur? And, worse, while I’m at it. This is quite a country. There are even 24 hour automated convenience booths where you can get all kinds of things, including Anal Jelly, but it is almost impossible to find a bottle of fresh milk!
Anyhow, I’ve solved the traiteur problem. The traiteur is a French institution and often overlooked by Irish on holiday. Hendaye is divided into two parts, we are in the beach area and it was in the older area that we found a top class traiteur this morning while visiting the weekly market. Here we bought enough Lapin Fermier (Rabbit) for dinner.
Happy that we had the rabbit and its sauce in the bag, we set off for Spain and the Basque hills and mountains again around lunchtime. Saw Menu del Dia for less than a tenner as we drove through Ergoien on our way to the national park area of Aiako Harriak.
We reached the border with Nafarro province (Navarre) at the 439m Aritxulegi tunnel, went past the big San Anton Reservoir. There are dolmens in the area of Agina and also a walk to the hilltop site of Aita-Donostia where stands a rugged work by Basque sculptor Oteiza.
Wound our way down to the pretty town of Lesaka. It has some historical places but I was very impressed by the modern Plaza Eltzetako. Then on to Etxalar, a beautifully maintained village with an old church with quite a collection of discoidal headstones in the churchyard.
Still one more call, as we headed up and then down on a very windy mountain road towards France, and that was the town of Zugarramurdi, a major centre of witch trials during the inquisition. The witches were supposed to have met in nearby caves, now the small town’s major attraction, even if it does little to let you know where they are. You have to walk the best part of a mile from the car park.
As a result, we just made it before they closed; the courteous girl at the reception looked at her watch but went on to give us every help. There are walks and a viewing point but the main attraction is the biggest of the caves, quite a massive one, very impressive indeed.
Then back to Hendaye and to that tasty rabbit, not to mention a gorgeous Gateau Basque with cherries (not the usual custard), also a nice bottle of red from Navarre, a Crianza, blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. Think I deserved it!