Saturday, 7 February 2015

New Adventure (4)

The Road To Ruin – Whoops, I Meant Rouen!

Into Spain via the Pyrenees Mountains

Saturday 10th of January 2015.

The next morning I returned to the F1hotel and found the receptionist on duty. – I explained in detail about the problem of being excluded from access to our room that we had encountered the night before. It would be fair to describe the receptionists attitude as 'unhelpful.' Her first comment was – you should have used the screen outside. I said its not working – its working now she said, as if that was an acceptable answer to the problem we had been presented with. I then told her that I had recorded the problems I was having with the screen onto my mobile phone. She then changed her story and said you should have used the emergency button below the screen. Call me old and out of touch – but unless there is a real emergency like the buildings on fire! I don't see the need to press any button, especially one that is specifically identified as being for emergency use only. Then with a typical Gallic shrug, she suggested that I should contact the 'Accor company' who I booked the accommodation through. I could see that, as far as she was concerned that was it. She offered to book more accommodation for our return trip. But as I explained we would be returning via Carcassonne on the Mediterranean side of France. Customer service seems to be very low on the agenda at F1hotel Bayonne. I feel sure that this is a story that will run and run especially if Accor's customer service attitude turns out to be the same as the Accor receptionists. As they say – watch this space.

Soon afterwards we were on our way once more after another lengthy breakfast in the Campanile hotel. The rain continued to fall but had abated somewhat in intensity as the effect of Rosie's rain dance wore off with the increasing distance! We were however to be lolled into a false sense of security by a fleeting glimpse of sunlight through broken cloud. As shortly afterwards it resumed raining. We were now heading into the mountains between France and Spain.

We climbed steeply up hill, feeling our way in and out of the huge groups of racing cyclists
some in team colours. The French cyclists are crazy. Most of the major roads have cycle lanes alongside. Including some with 120kph (72mph) sections. If you can imagine the hard shoulder of the M1 being used by cyclists – you will get some idea of the issue. The cyclist seem to ride along in groups and seemingly think little of drifting backwards and forwards into the main carriageway. They also like to stop on the smaller roads, on a blind bend and similar sorts of sensible places.

Suddenly the sky overhead started to get a bit lighter as the dark clouds faded into bright white. Then suddenly we broke through the clouds. The satnav said we were at an altitude of 2500 metres above sea level. The sky was blue the air was warm and we now had an horizon that was more than 500 metres in from for the first time. I did the tourist thing for the first time on this trip, we pulled over and I broke out the camera for the first time since approaching Calais. We enjoyed the sunlight as we scooted in and out of the mountain tops. Soon however, we were dropping downhill once more and somewhere in amongst the clouds (no rain) we passed over the boarder without seeing it and entered into Spain. As luck had it I had not booked a hotel and so as the afternoon wore on and the weather improved the sunlight became warm and I turned soporific.

In the late afternoon we started once more to look for accommodation. Though we were only
90 miles from our intended destination. The last few days of poor weather had been very tiring and challenging. So using what we had learned so far, we kept an eye out for a truck stop as used by the truck drivers. We booked our accommodation and decided that a pizza would be a bit of a treat. Rather that loading up on a big evening meal followed by litres of coffee. We drove into the nearby town where we soon found a pizza parlour. Returning to our room to eat before crashing out for the night.

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