It may be a stupid idea, but…

Der Eisbach. Unendliche Strömung, weit durch den Englischen Garten. Berühmt-berüchtigt und Bürgerpflicht für die Bewohner Münchens: Reinspringen und sich treiben lassen. Kenner tragen dabei fest sitzende Badebekleidung.

Munich’s Eisbach is famous for the idyllic scenery in the best parts of the “Englischer Garten” and for its strong current. I consider it a duty for all inhabitants to jump in and float through the park, at least once a life.

We know how to summer-in-the-city: Götz and me

Götz nimmt mich mit auf diese Reise, unter den Bäumen durch, Blick gen Himmel. Jauchzend, lachend, mit verrutschter Kontaktlinse blinzelnd, treiben wir zügig in Richtung Tivolibrücke. Unterwegs treffen wir auf die Eisbachwelle an der Dianabadschwelle, die „E2“. Kurz davor ist ein Seil quer über den Kanal gespannt, wir halten uns daran fest und warten. Einige Meter weiter sind die Surfer, die alle paar Minuten pausieren, um eine Runde Schwimmer durchzulassen.

My friend Götz takes me along on this journey. It is wonderful, under the light leaves of summer trees, looking up to the sky, passing under bridges and – sometimes – bumping into others. It does not take long until we reach the rear Eisbach-wave, known by surfers as Dianabadschwelle or just “E2”. We cling to the plastic rope that crosses the stream, intending to hold on to it until the surfers pause for a bulk of swimmers.

This is what most people know the Eisbach for: Famous surfers

Also, theoretisch funktioniert das so. Praktisch zieht mir die Strömung die Bikinihose aus, so dass ich mich mit rechts festhalte und mit links die Hose halte. Nach 30 Sekunden wechseln: links hält fest, rechts hält die Hose. Und Wechsel. Und immer so weiter.

Nach wenigen Minuten gebe ich auf und lasse mich in den Neben-Kanal linkerhand treiben. Dort, auf erhöhtem Grund, ist das Wasser nur hüfthoch und die Strömung kaum spürbar – der perfekte Ausstieg.

Auch wenn wir nicht bis zur Tivolibrücke gekommen sind, ist der Eisbach im Hochsommer eine sensationelle Gaudi. Ich bin angefüllt mit Endorphinen und ein bisschen Weißweinschorle (danke, Götz!), außerdem fühle ich mich enorm münchnerisch.

Nebenbei fiel mir noch was auf: Die Hälfte der Surfer auf der hinteren Welle nutzt günstige Boards einer französischen Sporthandelskette. Und weil jede Board-Größe ein eigenes Design hat, weiß ich jetzt, dass „mein“ Surfboard für die Eisbachwelle geeignet ist.

Ob das auch für mich gilt?

In theory, all we have to do is wait a few minutes and then continue our ride up to the Tivoli-bridge. In fact, the strong current tears at our bikini panties and shorts, making me hold on to the rope with my right arm while using the left one to hold up my panty. After 30 seconds, I change left and right, thanks to tiring muscles. And back again.

Before losing half of my best bikini, I give up and head for the small side-canal for a safe exit. Resumé of our swim-float-trip: Absolute fantastic! I hop around, full of endorphines (and a bit of white wine, thanks, Götz), feeling adventurous and Munich-stylish from head to toe.

Not to mention the detection of tempting occasions: What a thrill to see river surfers, using the exact same surfboard that I have bought in France. Obviously, it is good enough for river-waves – let’s find out if the same is true for me.

It looks easier with the pros

Ende der Woche komme ich erneut zur E2-Welle, diesmal voll ausgestattet. Bevor ich cool & lässig mit dem Surfboard unterm Arm durch den Park schlendere, plaudere ich am Parkplatz angeregt mit dem Parkplatzwächter: Wie irre das ist, in meinem Alter den Eisbach surfen zu wollen. Genau genommen plappere ich wie ein aufgeregtes Schulmädchen, meine Nervosität ist greifbar.

Kurz darauf, der erste Erfolg:

Ich passe noch in meinen Neopren-Anzug aus alten Triathlon-Zeiten!

Later that week, I come back, fully equipped: Board, wetsuit, wax, enthusiasm. First success comes with the suit: I still manage to pull up the zipper, after all these years!

Looking good (at least)

Jetzt gilt’s, ich stürze mich in die Fluten. Rein in den Nebenkanal, dann parke ich das Surfbrett auf der mittleren Trennmauer, hüpfe beherzt in den Eisbachkanal, krasse Strömung, sofort kraulen, kraulen, kraulen was das Zeug hält – und komme tatsächlich an der gegenüberliegenden Mauer an. Greife hoch in den Metallzaun, ziehe mich hoch, ziehe mein Board hinterher, uff.

Seit die Bayerische Schlösser- und Seenverwaltung das Fluss-Surfen ausmerzen wollte, ist der Zugang verbaut. Ein hoher Zaun verhindert den Einstieg von der Seite, zudem gibt es keinen sauberen Take-Of-Bereich. Wer hier surfen will, muss erst mal hinkommen.

I watch and learn, then throw myself in: First the side-canal, then the wall in between. From here, I take all my courage and jump in the strong current of the main canal, crawl as strong as I can until I make it to the other side, hold on to the wall, then to the metal fence, then pull up my body and my board. Then try to get back to normal breathing and play it cool.

systematisch verunmöglicht – aber wir finden einen Weg!

Dann wird es so richtig knifflig. Eben noch stand ich in der Schlange wartender Surfer (wie cool ist das denn?!!), plötzlich bin ich an der Reihe. Das Mäuerchen, auf dem wir stehen, verjüngt sich von 20 auf 12 cm, eingeschränkt durch den seitlichen Zaun. Nun 2-3 Schritte Anlauf nehmen, das Board voraus werfen, hinterherspringen, aus freiem Sprung mit den Füßen sauber auf dem Board landen und aus dem Flug heraus 1-2 Meter zur stehenden Welle hinsurfen.

Klar, oder?

Now comes the tricky part: On the rear and narrow end of the wall, I accelerate my steps, then throw the board up front, jump behind, try to place (out of pure air) my feet in perfect position on the board, use the momentum to push the board towards the stable wave and – fall apart.

Dianabadschwelle #E2 #Riversurf
How to…

Nach meinem ersten Versuch bin ich euphorisch: Ich habe es überlebt! Der Fall ins Wasser war halb so wild, den Begrenzungsmauern kam ich nicht nah, alles easy. Bis ich versuche, aus dem reißenden Kanal rauszukommen… Ich klammere mich an Ufersteine, rutsche ab, treibe weiter, packe erneut zu, halte mich, ziehe mich mit viel Fluchen aus dem Wasser und trage nur ein paar Schrammen davon.

Also laufe ich zurück und starte erneut: Brett in Nebenkanal werfen, hinterherspringen, Brett auf Zwischenmauer, eigenen Körper auf Zwischenmauer, Brett und Körper in Eisbachkanal werfen, gefühlte 50 Kraulzüge mit aller Kraft, Mauer erreichen, Zaun packen, Hochziehen. Jetzt folgt der lässige Teil: mit anderen Surfern fachsimpeln. Tipps einsammeln. Nervös werden. Anlauf nehmen, Brett werfen, hinterherspringen, usw usf.

Still, the first try has been better than I had thought. After all, I am still alive, right? Once I manage to get out of the creek (which is not as easy as it sounds), I come back for another round. Jump in, crawl-crawl-crawl, get up, run, throw, jump, touch the board, fall off. And back to the start…

try… fail… try… fail… try…

Nach drei Versuchen sagt mir das Knirschen der Schulter, dass es für den Erstversuch genug ist. Am besten mache ich das von jetzt an jede Woche!

Few attempts later, my shoulder interferes. The plan is clear: I will make this a weekly routine until I can show off just like the surfing cracks of the scene.

No problem, right?!

Meine neue, wöchentliche Surf-Routine hält genau bis zum Autounfall eine Woche später. Was bisher auf keiner Ratgeber-Seite steht: Geh nicht in rauen Gewässern surfen, wenn du ein klitzekleines Schleudertrauma hast.

Erst Wochen später, zum Herbst hin, finde ich neue Möglichkeiten, die Hoffnung auf die kommende Saison machen. Überhaupt wird in 2023 auf jeden Fall weiter gesurft, in sehr unterschiedlichen Gewässern – doch dazu später mehr…

About season 2022, I have do admit that the routine of river surfing came to a halt after a mere two rounds. I can plead a car accident as excuse, increasing work load or perhaps a subtle loss of motivation; probably all three of them.

Still, there is hope: 2023 has started with a wide range of surfing ideas in all kinds of water. There will be more to come, for sure…

I had to start it somewhere, so I started – there.

The Tour 2022 (N): Newquay

Warm Welcome in UK

Weeks ago, I reserved a pitch on the most expensive campsite ever: roughly 83,- EUR. Per night. For 1 Hector and 1 Lady. This being set, the overwhelming decoration with thousands of flags is the minimum I could expect. Only in the improbable case that the queen comes by for her platinum jubilee, she might claim it all for her. With her Majesty staying in London, I only have to share honour and glory with my van, which is fair enough for our first UK campground.

Porth Beach, Newquay

I have chosen Newquay for beaches and surfing, but come to think that it is moreover famous for being busy and crowded.

Fistral Beach (busy)

The beach right in front is for families and stand-up-paddlers only, thanks to its natural bay.

Such a Surf-Van

Time to bring my surf-van on the next level: With a sophisticated surfboard-mount, I am good to go towards Watergate Bay for appropriate waves.

…then at Watergate Bay…

I check out the options and make it my preferred spot for the next days.

Supervising Hector on the Cliff

Hector surveys my ongoing attempts from the cliff-parking position. Good to know that even in early morning, I am not entirely alone in the bay.

Thick Wetsuit, Slim Surfboard

Meanwhile, I practice wave by wave, improving my skills. Take-off, whitewash and greenwater, topped with some washing-machines every now and then. I ride some waves and some waves ride me. Afterwards, I have my board washed by the kind and handsome men of wavehunters.co.uk, chatting a bit about life, surfing and all the rest.

Relaxed little waves at Watergate Bay

The coastal path is worth some hours of walking, showing lovely facets of the cliffs and bays. Wildflowers, rocks, sand and different perspectives depending upon the tides come together in the most enchanting way.

Danger for tourists is always part of the game: vain selfie-spotters might fall off the cliffs, tides and current are underestimated easily and the sunburn-risk is continuously high. Still, wandering the coastline is all worth it.

Coastal Path Perspectives

Newquay downtown is full of tourist, shops and cars. Better again: focus on the landscape around.

…more of the Coastal Path…

Of course, the beaches need to be checked out thoroughly. First: Fistral beach, famous for surfing and attracting the majority of people.

Fistral Beach again

Thanks to the shortage of service staff in most places, I drop in the Headland Hotel for some afternoon Cornish Cream Tea with the most wonderful gluten-free scones I never dared to dream of.

Wonderful Tea-Time at The Headland

The next beach is a more relaxed one. Might be due to the umpteen stairs you need to climb down…

Third in a row is the one close to my exclusive campsite. During low tide, there even is a bit of a shore with miniature waves.

Following the coast further North shows another bay that is fully eaten up by the ocean during high tide. Other times offer endless sands and stones.

Rough and Lovely

After sneaking in The Mermaid Inn, I stroll around in the evening sun, now with high tide and the water filling in most of the bay.

Sunset and Broken Cliffs

A couple of days if enough for this place. New places to see and friends to meet make us move on to further destinations.

The Tour 2022 (K): More of my Preferred Surfing Bay

Experienced Camper Girls in France

Bretagne is beautiful and worth travelling. So far, I have only seen fragments of it. Yet, lucky me, I have a wonderful guest and she is all about sun, sea and a sandy beach. Of course, the decision has nothing to do with my brand-new surfboard.

What a Beauty!

Anyway, we find ourselves at my favourite bay and enjoy lazy holiday-time together. With “lazy” including surfing, adventurous bike excursions, wine and all the rest.

Chasing Waves

The surf becomes challenging thanks to my short and slim board – it makes me work thoroughly on my technique, still offering so much fun (and suiting me so well).

On my Way

The first relaxed day ends with a bit of sunset down at the bay.

Next on our list is a bike tour to Morgat. Facts point out 18 minutes and a brand-new bike road. If you are lucky and detect the right way, that is. Tough camper girls rather head for gravel roads that change into jungle paths. Strange enough that our shortcut through all the green extends the distance to 45 minutes.

Welcome to the Jungle

Wild animals are part of our adventure, looking bewildered upon our showing-up in their home area.

Wild Animals all around

Finally, we make it to Morgat and soak in the sea promenade, ice cream and an almost giant beach. Impossible to tell where the beach ends and the sea ground begins – just an hour later and Linda would be walking over the water surface.

Low Tide Crossover

All the action does not leave us untouched.

My knee is in slight disagreement with walking, surfing or any other movement. Many thanks go to Steffi from Lübeck with her wisdom and ability to fix it with bright yellow tape! Repaired like that, I can go out in the sun again and play with the waves.

The taped knee even entitles me to walk the coastline on another fragment of the GR34 path. It proves once more that the Bretagne is beautiful in all directions.

Then Linda leaves, but not before celebrating it with a toast to common days. After lazy days with sun, girls talk, food and wine, we are at least a bit closer to world-peace and happiness.

Upon her departure, I try to find another surf spot for calm days. Due to the worn-out campsite at Le Conquet, it turns out that my ambitions get overruled by Hector and his longing for favourite spots. It comes as no surprise when we re-appear on the wonderful beach bay the third time in a row.

Hector rulez

Public holidays bring in masses of campers and suddenly, the place is packed. As a matter of fact, I am not the only one being torn back here: Caro and Benny get washed up by the current and we share the precious space of a pitch for some days.

All about Sharing

When starting my voyage, I had not planned it to be a surfing holiday. And yet, I find myself surrounded by surfers, becoming friends and enjoying wonderful evenings with Daniela, Caro and Benny.

Surfing, barbecue and gorgeous sunsets make me forget about sightseeing and travel-books.

Just Lean Back

Time flies when you are having fun. All of a sudden, end of May tells me that it is time to pack up for the ferry and new adventures.

Packed

I am curious (and slightly nervous) what England will be like. Will it be raining all day? Will I get stuck on tiny roads? Lost in translation?? Time will tell…

The Tour 2022 (I): Surfing Days

It is amazing what the internet reveals. Days later, the mix of pictures, distance to the beach and proximity to the next village will draw a distorted image of the real scenery. Before learning that, the very same approach leads me here:

The most beautiful bay, offering waves with high tide and 3,5 km walking distance with low tide. All this in 100m distance from a comfy campsite.

endless

Some surfers with quite individual camper vans spread over the site, the atmosphere is vivid and relaxed. My original plan (laundry & lazy in nice surrounding) will be updated just a bit, now including information-gathering about where to rent surf equipment.

Beauty at all Tides

Later that evening, Daniela from the camper next-door helps me reducing wine quantities and shares her knowledge about surfing in general and rental shops in particular. Another evening offers leftover-sausages from Stevie & Persi (next-door to the other side), proving that I have chosen wisely the right pitch in splendid company.

best company
…looking at these waves makes me long for…

Not before long, I forget about ideas like jogging or hiking, now with my focus on the prio-1-topics: laundry and surfing.

no longing for laundry, but easily coming along in surf-pauses

With a 7.6 feet softboard and steady waves on most days, I manage to develop from the whitewash to first greenwater-waves. Of course, this works out on photo-free circumstances only. As soon as a camera is pointed at me, the water gets choppy and the surfing rough.

Here we go!

Fearless, I grab the board and head for the waves. Guess when the head is frequently under water, I am about to leave my comfort zone…

Queen of the Whitewash

In the end, I pass some fantastic surfing days. Daniela stays here for some longer and shows nice movements on her longboard, and I look forward to coming back in two or three years. For now, I have to move on: places to see and friends to meet.

Green-Water Queen: Daniela

The Tour 2022 (F): Penhors la Mer + Pointe de la Torche

Looking Good

Thanks to campsite-bingo, I see more and more of the wonderful landscape between Pointe de la Torche and Pointe du Raz.

lovely region

The first camping of choice has decided to invest in a hilarious small pool rather than in general maintenance. Worse, the distance to the coast exceeds reasonable metrics. Being slightly over-organized, I juggle with a printed campsite guide, a tomtom navi and google maps information on my smartphone. Best of such spontaneous actions is the unplanned sightseeing along the way.

Wonderful churches along the way

Hector is all up for it, feeling slim enough for tiniest roads, turn-round-manoeuvres and hours of trial-and-error research. Finally, we reach a charming campsite somewhere between Penhors and Plovan: Camping du Littoral. With a focus on mobile homes, it has two (2) camper van emplacements on-site plus a huge meadow. Not before long, Hector settles down next to the electricity plug, while I walk down to the beach with a bikini and a straw hat.

Beach Time!

Staying in a protected region means: few civilization. Still, Sunday evening comes with a concert at the beach bar.

Good Times

Next temptation on my list: Surfing! At the local surf school, I rent a board and a thick wetsuit and get into the waves. Within minutes, I am the Queen of the Whitewash again. Despite few occasions during past years, some surf routine is still there, getting more and more solid.

Reine de la Mousse

One of the landmarks around is Pointe de la Torche. I fancy it might be like a huge rock formation with dramatic outlooks. Once there, I realize that “La Torche” is famous mong surfers for a good reason (huge beach + camper parking) but comes with almost ridiculous stone elements.

dinky

I make a mental note to come back with an own board someday, with an overnight-stay among surfers and never again visit the café/creperie next to the beach.

Surfers’ Paradise

Before I leave, I take a picture of the most delightful feature of a bunker turned into art.

From A (art) to B (beach)

Before getting too lazy, things change: surf school is closed for the day, the sea is choppy and the boat to Île de Sein is far from offering my preferred route. Looks like it is time for the Hector-crew to move on.

Le Surf – France 2021, Part 6

Ah, finalement! I knew all along that Île de Ré is not surfer’s paradise, yet I had hoped for the best. As this island is a bit like the French version of Sylt, it is more about wind surfing than about wave surfing. Still, I am willing to bite my way through any obstacles until I get there.

First, I approach the catamaran / wind surf location close to my beach at La Couarde. I learn that surfable waves are available in winter time only… June may not be appropriate, then.

Next, I go to the village called “Le Bois Plage”. Internet research has detected a surf school, and when a French site is all about “surf”, then it is about waves. It is all a bit of a flexible scene here, depending on tide and timing, with no such thing as a building to address to – but in the end, I find a cabane at the far end of the beach, opened for some hours each day, and I manage to rent a board for an hour.

Three years have gone by since my last time on a surfboard – and I am the happiest person on the beach when already the third trial works out. I am up on the whitewash, pushed by nothing else than the ocean’s water. I keep to what I know best (broken waves) and work hard for about 45 minutes. In the end, I may not be “queen of the whitewash” again, but close.

When I give back the board, I make sure to be listed among the handful of people up for surf lessons the very next day, all but secretely aiming for surfing au large = in the open.

Ha! The real board of the day has been even smaller!

The next day comes with a bit of nervousness. 90 minutes surfing, now, really? At my age?? Not sure at all, but at least I will give it a try.

When they put one of their smallest boards in my hands, I feel like a real surf pro for about a minute or two. The smaller, the better – once, you learn how to control it, that is. It turns out that most of the others are even more impressed by the challenges of today’s lessons. I take advantage of all I have learned (thanks to Vincent/Vieux Bouceau), and within 15 minutes, I manage to ride my first “vague lisse” = wave at it’s breaking point.

Oh, what delicate feeling, when the upper half of the board is right in the air and the wave pushes gently from behind! Conditions are perfect for beginner’s luck, I’d say, but anyway, I am flashed by the enhanced experience. From now on, I forget about the whitewash and only go for the open!

#surfing #iledere #surf-re #travelhector
Surfing makes me happy!

Being well aware that bigger waves, deeper water or any other change in conditions will put me to the test any other day – still, I am entirely fascinated and more than willing to move on with surfing whenever I can!

Lovely Holidays in France – Facts & Information

F2

France: Beautiful Country

4.181 km. 2.381 €. Uncounted grains of sand in my hair. That is what happens when you are more a traveller than a resident camper. And Hector? Hector has been great, as always. Full of options, reliable as a rock while flexible as a yoga star. And always offering plenty of space to me and to Linda and to the wet suit and the skateboard and the barbeque and the outdoor cooker and the bike and the outdoor furniture. If I ever find a man with such a wide range of possibilities, I might fall for him.

WineSoMuch

France holidays are always chilled: Living is easy with good food and wine, so much wine, ah! While Hectors consumption reaches 11 litres per 100 km, I never manage to drink as much as they offer in all those beautiful vineyards, bars and restaurants.

A1

Hector en route

I tested quite some overnight possibilities. The first night has been at the Camping Rhodes, Étang du Stock. Simple and solid for 18,33 € (1 Hector, 1 person), less idyllic than it appears on their website and with friendly people and mosquitoes. The latter wait until sunset and are easily fought back with a bit of no-bite.

B1

One of the rare Rain Showers, here: View on the Étang du Stock

At Saumur, I enjoyed wonderful wine and endless vineyards at the Domaine de la Cune. Despite the friendly vintners I only bought 6 bottles of their tasteful products. Note to myself: Think of the wine I want to enjoy during the upcoming months and make up a certain volume. Then double it! Hector offers space beyond the wine shelf, why should I go home with less than 3.5 tons?

C1

Happy Hector at Domaine de la Cune

The camping Les Terrasses du Périgord is nice, but boring. I paid 27,- € and went on the next day, moving closer to the medieval centre of Sarlat. There always is a certain run on the rare places of the Aire de Camping Cars at Sarlat, but the 7,- € are worth the 10 minutes walk to the city.

D44

Camper Parking at Sarlat

At Saint-Émilion, I was lucky to catch a spot at noon. If you fail, come back in the evening: by then, all ignoring regular cars will be gone and less than a handful of campers remain – all for free and only 300m away from this wonderful little town. I will always come back whenever possible, probably in 2020 or 2021…

E4

To the Left: St. Émilion downtown. To the Right: Free Camper Parking.

The Camping Maubuisson is not my first choice, but I was too lazy to look for alternatives. The pool, the showers, the spots, the people – whichever detail I turned to, it made me light-hearted and happy that this place was not more than an overnight-stay between beach and airport.

Sableres

2 Days before the Canvas Blind lost 1 Leg…(here: at Camping Les Sablères)

Camping Municipale Les Sablères, Vieux Boucau : No pool, no stress. I like the mix of surfers, pensioners and relaxed families. If you prefer high prices, choose any other campsite.

H1

Around Lac de Biscarosse

The Lac de Biscarosse and further lakes around are worth a stop-over. At least that’s what I heard and probably more true when combined with better weather.

G1

Camping Les Grands Pins, Lacanau Océan

After our first week of surf lessons, Linda and me wanted to spend timeless days on the beach, rent a surf board and take adventurous pictures in our favourite bikinis with fantastic waves and bright sun. The plan was pretty good, but failed due to constant rain and led us to the luxury campsite of Lacanau Océan (31,- €/night). Although we spent relaxed hours on Hector’s couch, drinking tea and reading good books, it was not quite what we had in mind.

Moliets

Camping Le St. Martin, Moliets et Maa

At Moliets et Maa, the only campsite worth a stay is Le St. Martin. Avoid July + August, all other months are fine and offer nearly reasonable prices (ca. 37,- €/night). The main disadvantage – endless walks on the endless beach towards the one and only surfspot – remains. The main spectacle is for free: Breath-taking sunsets!

Sunset_DDOn my way home, I made a stop at the public parking of Montlucon, offering places (and even electricity, if required) for camper vans. The walk of approximately 3 km towards the historic centre should be done by bike, though. Anyway, I love those simple and free parkings that offer all you need for an overnight stay: come as you are, leave early if you like, no stress, no fees. No picture, as I had simply forgotten to take one.

Route1

France Southwest 2018: 4.181 km, 473 l Gazoline, Wonderful Surf Holidays

The resumé is: three and a half weeks are merely nothing. Yet, every place and every km, every trial on the surf board and every sip of wine, it is all worth it!

SunsetSurfer

 

 

Keep On Surfing

It is around 10 in the morning at Bordeaux airport and there are quite some options for another week of holidays. Once I fancied that I could take my time driving days and days through France, stopping here and there. Now it turns out that I have not counted on Hectors obstinacy and the fact that his metal coachwork reacts magnetic to waters. Before I can enter any destination into the navigation device, I am already en route heading south-west towards the Atlantic Ocean.

K_A1

When Einstein detected details of Gravity – did he think of the strong pull between Hector and the Sea?

At noon it is all set: Hector offers his full indoor + outdoor capacity and upcoming surf lessons are agreed for the next three days. While Nepal had been all about walking, these weeks are all about beaching. At the office, I would be bored to death with hours full of nothing, but it is different at the coast. I forget about time, I forget about money and I forget about almost everything that exceeds imminent needs such as food or sunscreen.

I_C1

The surf lessons during my last week are like the waves, full of ups and downs. The good part is that I am on top of the beginner’s level. The annoying part is that I have not reached the next level yet. Frustration takes the lead on day 3 (what else?!), when Vincent is busy helping some surfing neophytes on their boards while I am left alone with strong current and aggressive whitewash, thanks to the new moon. I look at the sea and think back: Only months ago, I have passed an altitude of 5.416m. These waves may be nasty, but they are not higher than 1,50m – absolutely hilarious!

G_Surf_1c

Getting better with the right Perspective: These waves are nothing compared to the height of the Himalaya

After a last evening at my favourite restaurant of Vieux Boucau, it is time to move on. I transfer Hector to the Camping Saint Martin at Moliets et Maa and learn that an endless beach means endless walks through the sand before you reach the best surf spot. Good that I am such a sporty girl, all able to cope with the surrounding – and well supported by Hector who has settled down only 30m behind the huge sand dune that separates the campsite from the beach.

J_D2

Moliets et Maa: Spectacular Show when the Atlantic swallows the Sun

With a rented board I try out the local waves on my own. It is a pity that the conditions are not inviting enough to try out the open (no real waves behind the sand bank), but at least I am queen of the whitewash. Take every wave that comes along, jump on the board, immediately turn left and follow the diagonal course of the wave’s shoulder right until the end, that’s what I practice over and over again. Meanwhile, my outfit does not match my abilities: being less under water and more on top of the board, my long-sleeve wet suit gets far too warm for sunny 30°C. Sometimes it is tough to be me…

J_G5

Queen of the Whitewash

Within a blink of an eye, 3,5 weeks are over and I have to think of the way back to Munich. Even in fast-and-furious mood, Hector will probably need more than one day for the distance of 1.500km. However, it might be a bit annoying if I start early in the morning, so why not celebrate departure day with a final surf lesson?

J_B1

It is always good to have surfers on speed dial and within minutes it is set. The next morning, I store everything properly in Hectors various compartments, check out at Moliets et Maa and reach Vieux Boucau 20 minutes later. After successful one and a half hours in salty water and with gentle (later: a bit too gentle) waves, I get out of the wet suit and straight into the driver’s seat, taking some grains of sand with me along the way. Although I love my life and my home-town, one or two months more for travelling would be very welcome… With a heartful sigh I turn around, knowing that I will not see another sunset at the beach for months.

J_E1

Goodbye France / Atlantique / Surfing…

Wave after Wave: The Surfing Challenge

The first two surfing lessons went pretty well, both for Linda and me. After a day off (filled by cycling to Hossegor), we continue on Saturday with our third lesson and with incredible optimism. I even talk our teacher Florice into going “au large” (into the open).

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This year, part of my surfing practice is learning that day 3 never works out. If five in a row or three in a row or with one day off in between, none of this matters with the general rule of “day three – no way”. If I only had known…

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While the waves make me tumble with unknown athletic moves, I use the time under water for reflexion: Maybe I should become old and boring someday (like: now)?! Stop the action and just wear the wetsuit for bragging and for well-shaped features…
Instead, I have made a decision some years ago: Whatever a place offers => try it! Go for it and see where it gets you. Make life colourful and widen your horizon. In case of doubt, always go for the most challenging aim. It is all about detecting the world and about touch and feel and taste and experience.
Hence, I raise my head above the water and continue. From what I can see, the other mid-level surfers in our group struggle just like me, so probably this is just a phase to go through. Or a day to leave behind.

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Days 4 and 5 are with Vincent and slightly better. Until I feel a stitch between my toes and wonder what I have stepped in… Although it hurts, I think of upcoming challenges, clench my teeth and hobble through the sand up to the surf school. I present my foot to Clément who becomes my personal saviour of the day. At least I renewed my nail polish just yesterday, so even with a swollen toe I still look like a lady.

It turns out that I have become acquainted with a greater weever (“une Grande Vive”) whose venom causes the waves of pain that now wash through my foot. Ten minutes and a basin full of warm (almost hot) water later, the wound is closed and the pain starts fading away. Time to return to my surf board!

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Survived!

The last of our five surf lessons is dedicated to stability: With rough water, we keep to the whitewash and practice not-falling-down-even-in-rushing-waves as well as steering the board rather than being carried away. Although my progress has not met my (ambitious) expectations, I am fine with the development. Perhaps I should use the last week of my holidays for further surfing days and see where it gets me…?!

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Vieux Boucau – Surfing Challenge

Tuesday is a big day when it is all about the arrival of the second campergirl: Linda arrives at Bordeaux and Hector is up on all four wheels to pick her up.

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Now the two of us – Linda + myself – are up for the surfing challenge at Vieux Boucau. Been there, done that, and still… The urge to get more out of it, to widen my possibilities. Thus, we are back where I started surfing two years ago, now with Linda for even more fun along the way.

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Will We be Some of Those Sometime?

This time, high season is still on a vivid level on the West coast. Yet, Vieux Boucau is a place far too relaxed to ever get stressful. The beach and the waves are dominating touristic life and we are here to be part of the show.

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We arrive well in time in the evening, just before the night is taken over by thunderstorms and rain. Secretely, I wonder if the waves might be too aggressive for our beginners’ level… I do not know where all these worries come from, but I catch myself thinking about waves that might be too strong, sporty actions that might be too extreme and any other obstacle that might jump in my way unexpectedly.

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Trying hard not to Worry too much

As it has been with the skateboard training, all it takes is getting started: Once you begin, you are into it and you stop worrying. You just do whatever you are up to. In our case: start with body surf, then lead the surf boards into the white wash and then… My body remembers more than my head and instinctively I push my board into the sea, get hip-deep in the water and lay on the board. The wave in sight, I start paddling, paddle stronger and there it is: push up, put the left foot on top, follow with the right (rear) foot and there I am, all back on the waves!

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Still Standing!

Linda, having some fishes among her forefathers, gets into the whole surfing system quite quickly and we have our fun playing “surfer girls” in the Atlantic Ocean. Supported by good teachers (Alternative Surf School once more proved to be best!) and a gentle beach, we build up quite some routine right from the start.

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Not bad for a Start

After our successful first lesson, we stumble over the best eating place in town and turn back to Hector with cookies in our pockets and salty water in our hair. Meanwhile, my little van plays it luxury with the outdoor carpet, the sun roof, comfortable chairs and tables and all kind of perfect equipment. Some of it have not been used for almost two years, but now with settling down for more than just one or two nights (a full week, in fact), we take advantage of all the stuff that miraculosly comes out of the deepest storage compartments.

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Holidays at the Atlantic Ocean – Always so full of Clichées

Days go by with surfing, strolling on the local markets, fantastic food, sunset at the beach and all this kind of holiday action. Blessed we are to live a wonderful life!