En fête in Bayonne - Saturday and Sunday, 2 and 3 August 2003

Then, off to the fête. After a short walk, following the crowds in fancy dress, we reached the town centre, to find that it wasn't just some performers in costume, but practically everyone. The correct dress was white shirt, white trousers or skirt, and some bright red to set it off - neck scarf, cummerbund and/or hat. Some variation seemed in order, provided it followed the spirit. So we bought a white tee shirt and red scarf for Ann at stalls in the fair, and I thought I'd get away with white shorts and a red polo shirt I already had.

Country dancing in Bayonne

Later, we returned properly attired to wander the crowded streets, where people were variously eating at trestle tables, playing in bands of every genre, doing country dancing, or just chatting and drinking.

Next day, I phoned the port authority on the number we'd been given. They told us that the quay was strictly commercial, and not for yachts. However, seeing as it was fête time, how long did we want to stay. Monday morning was no problem. Later, an official came round purely to check that we were safely moored, which was not a trivial matter as the tide ran at around 5 knots.

In the evening, there was to be a bullfight. Ann had never seen one, so we wandered up to the arena in what was now the stifling heat of the famous heat wave, and bought tickets off a tout. Then we joined the fête until fight time at 18:00.

Bullfight in Bayonne

The bullfight itself was a proper Spanish affair, with imported bullfighters and bulls. The atmosphere, with all the crowd in costume, and clearly aficionados of the "sport", and two bands in competition, was great fun. We found the bull fights themselves a bit boring, with an unvarying ritual, and not much chance for the bull to score any points, let alone win. As for the cruelty of it, we supposed that the animals had a better 3 years of life than most cattle, and that if the last hour of it wasn't much fun, it probably wasn't any worse than going to an abattoir. The real issue is what it says about the people (ie us) who frequent them.

As an aside, we saw lots of pet cats and dogs in Spain, and they all seemed to be cared for and fussed over in the best possible way, in contrast to what we'd been told to expect.

Finally, late that evening we watched a magnificent firework display over the river from the cockpit of Razzmatazz. It must have lasted over 20 minutes, and most of the time, they let of the rockets in pairs or larger groups to give a display that filled the sky continuously.