Posts Tagged ‘driving’

Back through France

From Hendaye, we continued up through France to Vouvray, just east of Tours on the north bank of The Loire. Traffic was not too busy but busy enough around Bordeaux. Sharon did  nearly commit murder in a service station en route!  I’d gone to the loo and left her looking out over our car parked in front of the café when a car pulled in and slammed their door into ours! Not being shy – Sharon darted out to catch the woman responsible before she left, but she (the door slamming, evil criminal) managed to evade Sharon’s wrath by backing out of the space and driving back on to the motorway, pretty quick sticks! We were left with a dinted door.30161183796_7e9823d524

The sun shone throughout the afternoon, but by the time we arrived at our Chambre d’Hote just outside the village, it had become chilly and we were glad of our Lidl ‘extras’. In Hendaye, it had been so cold that we had looked around for warmer clothing and found a tracksuit for me and a long sleeved shirt for Sharon in a Lidl just around the corner from our hotel.  As I say, thank goodness for those Lidl ‘extras’.

We walked into Vouvray twice while we were there; a 4.5-mile round trip each time. The first time was to explore the village (it’s tiny) and the second time to find food; there are several places – but we had to find them. Whilst there, we checked out one of the Caves and made some essential purchases. We ate at La Scala.

After a comforetable breakfast we continued our journey up through France to Boulogne. It being Saturday, we expected more traffic but the roads remained quiet and uneventful for the entire journey. Although we’ve visited the area around Abbeville lots of times, we’ve never been to Le Crotoy (and there’s quite a bit of mention in Bernard Cornwell’s book – Harlequin – which I’ve just read) so we called in there for lunch (I had a bucket of mussels!). We will certainly try to visit again, it looks lovely.img_7321

Our Boulogne Chambre d’Hote was right in the middle of the old town, yet we were (just) lucky enough to grab a parking space not too far from our bed. Our room was on the first floor and huge. The windows overlooked the town hall square, where this year they had planted a sensory garden. Well done Boulogne once again.

The Sunday roads in England were also surprisingly quiet. The M20, the M25 and then the M11 were a breeze. So setting off from Boulogne at 8.30am French time to catch a 9:50am train (on time) we were home for 3:00pm UK time.  Not too shabby.

Cordoba

The journey to Cordoba, about two hours long, was uneventful.

The journey from the outskirts of the city to the hotel was however, somewhat trying. The hotel is right in the middle of the Jewish quarter of the old town. We knew that. What we didn’t know was that we would have to navigate tiny, narrow, cobbled streets to get to the hotel. We’d had a note from the hotel saying that we should not use our SatNav as it wouldn’t get us to them – instead we had to follow their instructions; which luckily and apart from one turn right at the beginning, were very much the same as the SatNavs. THAT was a stressful, wing mirror scaring drive. 

img_7244As was the route out of the city, which because we unwittingly chose school-start time to begin our journey, had lots of roads closed by local police to allow the scores of children, parents and old folks (!!!) to navigate the VERY narrow streets.

img_7250The city itself is blessed with historic buildings and areas and because we were there just one afternoon and evening we could hardly due them justice. A number were under repair/renewal too, so apart from the outside views, we didn’t do much except enjoy the mid-30s heat and street cafes. It’s useful to note that, unlike Seville and Salamanca, many of the shops were closed by 9:00pm.

We didn’t find that any of the food places close to our hotel were anything to shout about; in fact we didn’t really like anything we ate in Cordoba.  Not the best place to eat on an overnight stay.  However, we didn’t try either of the recommended ‘flamenco’ bars either. But there were execrable noises coming from both as we passed.

The journey to Avila, where we stayed on Wednesday was, apart from Sharon having to drive all the way, pleasant and uneventful.

Homeward Bound

After cleaning up after ourselves, hanging the freshly washed bedding over a clothes horse and locking up Angela and Billy’s house tight, we set off home on Saturday morning – a little later than planned at 9.20am.

The day was overcast and threatened rain, which in fact took about three quarters of an hour to start.

We stopped in Belac, on route to the motorway north of Limoges to look for bread. Our plan had been to stop in St. Junien, but the rain had started at that point and in Belac it had abated. Here though, we fell foul of the French custom of August holidays (i.e. whole towns go away at once) as only one Boulangerie was open and its queues were huge! We spent a fruitless half an hour wandering round the town and the market (which was still taking place) before deciding that the rain was too hard to bother queuing. We eventually stopped in small town en route to buy bread.

The rain was so hard that I decided to give the motorway a miss and we followed the ‘yellow’ road (obviously the road that was replaced by the motorway) pretty much all the way to Chateauroux and then the ‘green’ road as far as Chartres, where we planned to spend the night. On this secondary road I was able to maintain a legal maximum of 90km per hour (60ish) without worrying about spray, reckless drivers or overtaking (or being overtaken) in such awful conditions: we rarely saw another car and the worst period of driving was through a short patch of surface water just after beginning that part of our journey.

We stopped for a (damp) picnic lunch when the rain stopped (and started – then stopped again) somewhere on route. Sharon then drove all the way to Chartres in cool but dry fairly sunny weather. We stayed at the Ibis in Chartres, which is quite a nice version of that hotel chain, with proper bathroom + showers and a restaurant serving passable food. Sadly, we weren’t over impressed with the city itself but that might have been the weather, which became wet once again as we walked around the outside of the magnificent cathedral and its surrounding tourist traps.

We completed our journey to Boulogne-sur-mer on Sunday in almost continuous sunshine. I say almost, because it decided to throw it down again just after we’d packed up our windy lunch on ‘the front’ at Quand Plage near the Baie de la Somme.

Tonight is our 7th Wedding Anniversary meal and I’m right looking forward to it! More on France, the French and our meal – later.