Toulouse

The Loire – Sully back to Orleans

Today is the last day of cycling.  After 4 days without suspension and in the sit-up-and-beg position, I have a seriously numb bum.   We’re also a bit over it all as well as in ‘why are we doing this?’  The fun has gone out of it.

Last year we did the 250km Canal du Midi – Toulouse to Sète on the Mediterranean – so we had ‘something to cycle to’.  This trip is a circle, so we are only going back to Orleans, with which we were both underwhelmed.

We decided to cycle 20km and then take the train for the rest of the way to Orleans.  Unfortunately it wasn’t a passenger train station – goods only – so we had no choice but to do the last 30km by bike along the banks of the Loire.  This sounds idyllic, but after 5 days, we just wanted it over with.  It was a slog.

A kind Frenchman gave us directions at one point and was quite horrified that we were going to cycle this way – ‘le chemin n’est pas sympa aux vélos’ – the path isn’t great for bikes.  And this was the Loire à Velo trail.  Not amused.

We felt much better after a shower, some soothing kirs and dinner.

Next stop:  Paris for the flight to Bangkok.

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From Tent to Georges V in 25 Years (if I’m lucky)

Went down the Great Ocean Road today to revisit the 12 Apostles.  Last saw them 12 years ago and things have changed a bit ie a visitors’ centre and millions of people.   Instead we went off and found Moonlight Head and Wreck Beach.  They were both great – the beach had 366 steps to get back up (I counted).  The sea was fantastic – blue/green with pounding white waves so we sat on the sand and watched it for a while.

Not sure how I’ve allowed this to happen again but we’re staying in a really crappy motel  in Laver’s Hill.  In Australia, it’s taken me years to coax Neil out of the tent (‘but it’s cheap’ he wailed) and up to the Golden Chain Motels level of ordinariness via countless dregsville dumps.

Can’t help thinking of Kathryn staying in Canberra in her ‘usual room’ at the Hyatt with the marble bathroom and I’m in the middle of nowhere in a prefab hut being overpowered by noxious air freshner and the noise from a generator outside going non-stop for the refrigerators at the drive-thru bottle shop.

Had a bit of a breakthrough last year in France after Neil realised that his el cheapo Formule 1 room in Toulouse didn’t have an ensuite and someone had peed all over the seat of the shared loo. I pointed out that for not much more we could upgrade to an Ibis where this problem wouldn’t exist. After a lot of humming and hawing, I got my way and Ibis excelled themselves that first night – an enormous room, huge TV, 5th floor, minibar, right on the main street with a balcony and those pretty French louvre shutters.

The next day we went off to cycle the Canal du Midi returning to the same Ibis a week later.  Unfortunately this time they put us in a very small room that didn’t have a window – there was a window-shaped opening onto some sort of air shaft but it wasn’t actually a window (the French excel at this sort of thing). But a precedent had been set.  I’ve now got him up to Logis de France (2 star decent small French hotels) when there is no Ibis available.  No more Formule 1 thank God.

I’m never going to get to stay at the Georges V at this rate though.

Next part of the strategy, (advance prep for the Georges V) is to get Neil to change his rucksack for a suitcase.

Hoteliers loathe people with rucksacks.  I can see their point.  Especially if they come with a small Scotsman attached who’s loathe to spend any money in their establishment.