On A Rail: Part 2

posted by / Photos / October 13, 2008



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We’re seated at Caf de Paris in Hossegor. Cute French girls buzz past us on mopeds wearing open-faced helmets. Boys pedal by on bicycles and the occasional car horn beeps at the corner intersection. A raucous group of Frenchman holler as they watch Biarritz play a Rugby match on the pub TV. The streets of the city are aflame with lights tonight after a relatively quiet week of drizzle and solitude. Today is the town’s last hurrah before the long, dreary winter.

Today however, the weather was lovely. People took their clothes off and went to the beach. Miky Picon and Jeremy Flores took their girls down to the beach and scored some perfect shacks at, as Miky called it, “some of the most crowded waves I’ve ever seen in France,” during a session at Le Piste in Capreton. It was perfect, but so crowded the water looked like a swarm of humans took over. It was as if everyone came to France to say farewell to the warmth of summer. And just in time, too. Rain is forecast for Monday.

Which is why it’s so nice to be seated here as twilight approaches on a Saturday night, sipping on a pint of Carlsberg, plotting what will be our next move on this train trip gauntlet. Dane Ward wants it to be big barrels. Dylan Graves doesn’t really care where; he’s just stoked he can surf with his new cast after breaking his hand in Portugal at the start of the trip. And then there’s Blake Jones. Blake won’t sleep until we get to Amsterdam. But said he’ll try to surf along the way.

Plots for our next move then take over the conversation at the caf. “We should try the Mediterranean,” someone suggests. “What about Scotland? Chimes another. “Have you been to Spain before?” someone asks. Countries are thrown around like dice. We could go anywhere. Dylan then has an epiphany. “Man, just listen to this conversation,” he says. “The fact that we can talk about all these countries and cultures like this and then go see them and surf there all in one trip is crazy. It’s sick.”

But then someone gets serious about Spain. The swell in the water today is still solid. The winds are supposed to be offshore and the crowds here in France aren’t exactly rad. So we make a few phone calls to local guru and Surf Europe photo editor Alex Laurel to find out where might be fun. He gives us a few tips and just like that the alarms are set for sunrise. And why not right? Everywhere in Europe feels so accessible. Jumping countries is like jumping hopscotch. Within an hour we can trade in croissants and cigarette smoke for Tapas, and olas.

And just like that it was done. France tonight, Spain in the morning. But we have to go out in France once more before we go, right?. An Au revoire to the lifestyle we all seem all too willing to be completely immerse ourselves in.

And it just so happens to be salsa night in Hossegor. Stick thin women slide across the dance floors being swung around by some Latin guy that can dance. Old men sip from large tubs of beer on the patio. Twenty something part-time models mope around with pouty faces and perfect bodies. Older women cackle with martinis and cigarettes. The city is alive and everyone is here. Old. Young. Really young. And really old. Pro surfers, local industry bros and tourists from everywhere. It’s a scene. {{{CJ}}} Hobgood, Ben Bourgoeis and Dion Agius stroll in and say hello. All the surfers compare sandbars they surfed and get eye f—ked by every woman in the room. (Hossegor is officially where eye f—king was invented, by the way). Dark, piercing eyes dart around the purple-lit rooms like lasers. Somehow though, we escaped the lures of the night and managed to make it home for a decent night of sleep before the early morning Spain mission.

And boy, are we glad we did. Offshore winds and picturesque setups awaited the boys in the morning. Barrels and caf con leche all day. Followed by a perusal of the most beautiful city in Europe on the way home: San Sebastian for Tapas and a beer. We spent the lunch hour strolling through alleys of pubs and bars, overflowing with humanity and beer. After that it was back up the coast for a beachbreak in Anglet, France that was as fun as beachbreaks get: peaky and slightly offshore with a thin crowd.

It’s all been good fun in France and Spain the last few days. But it’s time to soak in a new culture. Which is why were out of here. Tomorrow we’re striking out across more of this continent for not sleeping. Maybe the Med. Maybe the North coast of France. Maybe England. Maybe Sweden. Or maybe Greece. It’s all a possibility and we’re leaving it up to the latest forecast we can read in order to make the most spontaneous decision possible. As of right now, though, the only thing we’re sure of is that tomorrow we’re leaving France on the night train.

[To find out where Surfing Magazine’s first ever On a Rail trip heads to next, log onto WWW.Surfingmagazine.com Wednesday for another update from the rails]

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