life through the lens
Coronavirus meant flights were being cancelled, and the train from Lisbon to the French border had been withdrawn. So I took an overnight bus from Evora to Madrid, followed by another one to the French border at Hendaye. Even though Madrid was in lockdown the bus to Hendaye was completely full?! But I got to see another weird geo-political location in the form of Pheasant Island - October 2020.
A recent version of the 10 Euro note
The Bidasoa River divides the Basque frontier town of Irun in Spain (left) from the French town of Hendaye (right)
Looking in the opposute direction I walked towards the quirky political machination that is Pheasant Island, straight ahead, an uninhabited island in the middle of the river
Pheasant Island - Ile des Faisans in French, Isla de los Faisanes in Spanish, Konpantzia in Basque - has joint sovereignty between France and Spain, and its governance passes every six months between the two nations - Pheasant Island
The only population these days is the birdlife, as access is forbidden, although maintenance and gardening is still carried out. Representatives of each nation also meet there every six months to hand sovereignty over, while the Wikipedia page says the Naval Commands of France & Spain land on the island every five days. Blimey! - Pheasant Island
The monument on the left commemorates the signing on the island of the Pyrenees Peace Treaty between France and Spain in 1659 - Pheasant Island
I crossed the bridge from Spain to France and popped in to a local bar in Hendaye. Loving the toilet, constructed in the shape of a wooden barrel
Since 1659 sovereignty has passed between France and Spain over 700 times - Pheasant Island
I continued walking from Pheasant Island to the coast, stumbling across this river boardwalk - Hendaye
The bridge linking France and Spain, Irun and Hendaye, with the railway bridge on the right - Hendaye
The train station at Hendaye is an important WWII landmark
Sunset over Hendaye then to Paris the following morning, a 30min dash across the city by Metro and the Eurostar to London with 5min to spare..
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www.atlasobscura.com - Atlas Obscura's page on Pheasant Island
www.bbc.com - BBC summary
www.hendaye-tourisme.fr - Hendaye tourist board's page on Pheasant Island
https://en.wikipedia.org - Wikipedia entry
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