A Travellerspoint blog

September 2013

Canoe trip down the Dordogne - Souillac to Beynac

2nd half brilliant weather!

remember above map we are travelling along the river

Sunday 22nd Sept 13 (day 22)

Our only objective today was to find a shop that sold camping gaz as we were on our last cartridge and did not want to move on without a backup.

Woke up to a brilliant sunny day that stayed that way the whole day. I kid you not - not a cloud in the sky. The only white we could see above we caused by jet streams criss crossing way above. Perfect day for drying all our washing that Lyn put through the machine last night. This was all outside hanging from the portable clothes line, trees and railings.

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We had a leisurely breakfast of poached egg on fried bread (no toaster) and then headed out to the shops to find gaz. As it was Sunday the shops close at 12.30, but we only had about 1 km to walk to a big department store. With a sigh of relief they had our gaz and we purchased 2 cylinders to be on the safe side.

We walked back slowly enjoying the sunshine. Again I have to say it, there was not a cloud in the brilliant blue sky. Such a change from previous day - lovely.

We lazed the day away, Lyn checking on the drying situation of all our belongings and me catching up on loading photos and blogs. Lovely relaxing day.

At about 5.30pm we decided to go out for a bit of a walk around town - it was still brilliant sunshine and I have to say it again - not a cloud in the sky to distract from the perfect blue.

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An hour later back in our 'tithome' that is what they call this cabin we are in, we had some duck pate with a glass of chilled wine, then went and had a hot shower before dinner. Lyn found another hole in the air bed, that is why it when down after my half arsed repair job, and put on another patch, so it should fair well when we need to sleep on it again tomorrow night.

But tonight we have another night in a soft warm bed with a hard roof overhead. Lyn turned on the heater in her little room and now the whole place is toasty warm. It has been a nice little break in between but I'm keen to continue down the river and fingers crossed this weather stays with us for a few days more.

Monday 23rd Sept 13 (day 23)

We set an alarm to wake up at 8am as we had to be out of our 'tithome' by 10am. Taking the opportunity we needed the time to have a cooked breakfast and pack up our gear again. Everything had been removed from its wet bag so it could be washed, dried, aired or all of the above. Also we had to leave the cabin tidy and clean as we had to pay a 360 euro deposit for contents and cleaning at check in. On checkout they did not even check, and we got our deposit back no problem.

At 8am the weather is hard to predict for the day, the sky is grey and there was a bit of fog around being close to the river. However by the time we were pushing the canoe into the water at 10am the sky was brilliantly clear and my favourite shade of blue. As you can imagine we were happy - shorts and t-shirts today!

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The river was calm and mirror like and the current enough that we did very little paddling, taking advantage of the rivers natural movement just drifting along. We only traveled about 12 km and this took us about 4 hours. We even managed a few stops on the way to take photos of distant castles. Paddling to the river side and getting in and out of the canoe, we now consider ourselves masters of the canoe!!!

But I brag too soon because of course there was a campground on either side of the river at Carlux, the place we wanted to stop for the night. Of course we chose the side where the camp was closed, so we had to paddle directly across the current about 50 metres to get to the other side. This may sound easy and probably is for 'masters of the canoe'.

The water is only knee deep but this just means the current is stronger and after a gallant attempt we were loosing and I could see we were going to end up down stream and past the campground altogether. This was not a good thing. Only option was to step out of the canoe and physically pull it ashore. Which is exactly what I did. Like I said it was only about knee deep and there was no way we were going to get there by arm power alone.

This camp ground was open and is beautifully situated right on the river side. We passed this camp when we were cycling last week and I commented on how nice it looked. So I am glad the first one on the other side was closed.

We had lunch, then set up the tent. Still a beautiful day we walked the 1 km into a small village of St Julien de Lampon. Not much there, a few shops, a small square and a pub. So we sat in the small square, ordered a beer from the pub and watched the comings and goings into the few shops.

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Hot shower that was not the kind where you continually need to press the button to keep the water flow going. This is the norm in all the camp grounds so a free flowing hot shower was nice.

Tonights camp dinner was paella in a can (which tasted a lot better than it sounds). Quite a good meal actually and was complemented by half a carafe of Rose which Lyn went and purchased for 4 euro ($6) from the onsite cafe. Remember we are camping so food in a can is a must for when we stop at places where no fresh food is available.

We were wrapped up in bed by 9.30pm.

Tuesday 24th Sept 13 (day 24)

We had a very cold night last night. And the bloody air bed went down again so Lyn had an extra uncomfortable broken sleep also. We think maybe the patch we have used is too old as the glue does not seem to be drying and is staying tacky. Will have to try repair with bike tyre patch, but they are back at the hotel which means one more night of it going down and it's my turn tonight, err. Airbed is the last thing you want going down on you(haha) I can assure you!

Up at about 9ish, breakfast and then a leisurely pack up. The sky is blue and clear again so we can expect another beautiful day, which did eventuate.

Today we departed at 11.15. Again we did not do a great deal of paddling, mainly just drifting and steering. Just before 1pm we floated into Grolejac (this was the starting point where we collected the canoe) for directions of where exactly they were to pick us up tomorrow. While there we walked up to the supermarket we had visited earlier on in the week to get some bread for lunch. Of course the supermarket was closed 3 hours for lunch, but luckily there was a bakery where we could get a baguette.

Back on the river we floated a little down stream for about an hour before stopping on a small stoney beach for some lunch. It was beautiful.

We encountered a few more other canoes on the river today, even more than the weekend. We even had a quick chat with a couple from Sydney who just paddling a quick 5km afternoon trip.

The campground I had chosen for tonight was of course invisible from the river, but we now have a keen eye of what to look for and with a quick turn around and a little frantic upstream paddling we managed to get the canoe to shore. Only to discover it had closed for the season anyway. It was still early so onward downstream we continued. The next one we spied also took a bit of frantic paddling to get to the shore. This one was open, however it was a 5 star camp ground and wanted to charge us 22 euro for one night. This was too much - although they did have a heated swimming pool - and when I looked at the site they had allocated us it was a dirt/muddy bit of ground that was obviously kept for scabby river travellers. As we had not yet paid we floated on away. Bugger them!

Next one also closed but across the river we spied another so now used to frantic paddling we made it across barely missing some dutch idiot swimming in the river who could not recognize that we had no control of our vessel. Serves him right that we almost decapitated him. I find the Dutch we have encountered holidaying in France are the most unfriendly people so far. Anyway this camp ground was open and lovely and only 14 euros and is now home for the night.

I write this just before we start to cook dinner, which is veal couscous (another wondrous meal from a can) and have sent Lyn up to the bar to see if she can get any takeaway wine.

Another perfect day - weather wise and travel wise and the English neighbours have just offered us a glass of wine! Cheers! Very lucky they gave us 2 very full glasses of classy cask wine, love those Poms.

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Wednesday 25th Sept 13 (day 25)

Last night Lyn came back empty handed, cheapest wine on sale was 11euro and we have no idea what it was like so out of our price range. Lucky for us our UK neighbours had many litres of cask wine that they were more than willing to share with us in exchange for giving us shit about the current Australian rugby and cricket teams. Hey copping a bit of sports shit was worth the wine!

Waking up this morning after we had encountered a not so freezing night - although uncomfortable for me as I was on the flat bed. 8am there was still a heavy mist, which hung around until 10.30ish. I was up early as I wanted to do a short hike up to Domme a village on a nearby table mountain.

After a quick coffee and some bread and vegemite I made the walk up to the 150 m high village. The hike up the bush path only took me 30 minutes, Lyn stayed behind at the camp to start to pack up. It was lovely at the top but the view was zero. It was like being above the clouds the mist was still so thick across the valley. I ended up staying there for over an hour before the view of the river and surrounding countryside came into view. However the climb and the wait was worth it as the views were amazing.

Back at camp Lyn had almost everything packed ready to go, so after quick coffee we loaded the canoe for the last time and pushed off. It was just before midday.

We did not have far to go again today, so were able to take it very easy. This stretch of the river is obviously the most popular as we encountered more canoes and kayaks in the first hour than we have in last 7 days. Lots more to see on the riverbanks besides just trees. Villages and castles everywhere for the eyes to feast on. This was nice but we were grateful for our quiet solitude days we'd had just us and the river and the only noise being nature.

But these different features also made for an exciting day for us to see things as well. Nice busy day to end our canoe adventure. We stopped at the touristy town of La Roque Gageac in search of bread but the only bakery was closed until 4th Oct so we had to do with leftover baguette from a previous meal again. It was not really a problem as we stopped on a stoney beach opposite the town and watched the busy river traffic go past until it was time for us to join them.

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Back on the river for our last couple of hours there were more castles and impressive chateaus to be seen. Weather was fantastic again today and what a brilliant conclusion to our experience on the water. woo hoo!

We made our pick up destination dead on time, arriving only minutes before our pick up van. We were driven back to Grolejac in less than 30 minutes, the same distance that had taken us the last 2 days to cover.

We agreed it was a great experience and the first few days of rotten weather only made the remainder of the trip even more enjoyable.

We are in the Du Pont hotel again tonight, our bikes and luggage still in the garage where we had left them a week ago.

Tomorrow a new adventure starts as we are back on Sofia & Fonsi.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 05:35 Archived in France Tagged dordogne Comments (3)

Canoe trip down the Dordogne - Argentat to Souillac

day one we got drenched and we didn't even fall in the river

Note: regarding above map we are travelling along the river!

Wednesday 18th Sept 13 (day 18)

Today was our first day canoeing on the River Dordogne - what a bloody disaster! Not at all what I had envisioned for this trip I had been dreaming about for a few years.

The day started off alright but just got worse and worse and even worse, until we were almost at breaking point.

We'd had a wonderful comfortable nights sleep in the hotel after a very enjoyable dinner. Up at 8, I walked to the shop for a baguette for breakfast. When paying the bill I was able to convey to the French owners that we would be back in one week and would it be possible to leave our bikes and some baggage in the shed where they locked up our bikes overnight. This was ok for them and a relief for us.

We managed to be only about 10 minutes late our rendezvous with the canoe hire place. It was just up the lane and we carried all our camping, cooking, change of clothes and personal stuff in a total of 5 wet bags. All organised. We met a young Malaysian guy named Tony who was also kayaking the same route as us but in 5 days we are doing 7. We noticed on the trailer that there was one kayak and one canoe so presumed we were in the canoe not 2 kayaks. This was ok, probably a better solution with all our gear.

The drive from Grolejac to Argentant took about 1 1/2 hours and of course the overcast weather we had again woken up to did not improve. Ironically as soon as the van stopped at our starting point the rain started to fall. Not a good omen for the remainder of the day.
So the water vessels were unloaded from the trailer we were given a hardly legible photocopied mud map of the river and bit farewell - we were on our own.

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Dragging the heavy canoe down to the waters edge I felt a little disappointed that the weather was against us, but this is one thing I cannot control and as it was only light rain we loaded up our bags and jumped in. It was 12 noon and we had 20km to paddle to our first nights stop. The river flows at 5 km per hour so we kind of thought it would take us approximately 4 hours. Tony decided to wait for an hour or so to see if the rain might stop - he was obviously thinking of Asian rainfall where it only falls for an hour than clears. Not so in France. It rains all day.

The rain continued to fall, with the only change being when it absolutely poured down.

About 2 hours in Tony caught us up and asked how much further, we had no bloody idea. He looked completely exhausted and paddled erratically away from us. We yelled at him to reserve us a cabin at the campsite - a reservation we would never take up.

The river was mostly calm which meant easy paddling along with the current. We did encounter a few 'rapids' just where the water fell over rocks and although not big they were a little heart racing and a bit exciting. However the splash up did just add to our already total drenching. Thank goodness there was no wind otherwise we would have frozen. At one point we got caught in a giant whirlpool in a bend of the river and did a couple of 360's before managing to paddle out of it. And the rain continued to fall.

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What a bloody miserable start to the trip - but wait it got worse. At about 3.30 we were teased by the sun suddenly appearing and the rain disappearing. Overhead we had blue sky and we rejoiced. Happiness overcome our gloom as the sun started to dry our drenched clothing and we knew we must be close to home for the night.

As quick as the sun appeared it vanished and was replaced by more rain. It was like a freaky interval. But it got worse.

An hour later still paddling in the pouring rain we realised we must have missed our first stop. Yes I know you must be thinking how on earth could we have missed it but we did. I understood the guy saying that the camping stop was after we go under the bridge but it was obviously before the bridge and we missed it. And the rain continued to pour down.

Wet, miserable and we'd had it but had to carry on until we found a camping ground to stop at. The river here does not exactly run through towns so camping ground was our only option. It was getting late now and starting to get dark, and the rain continued to fall and every now and then really piss down.

At about 6 we came across a camping that was deserted but we didn't care if it was open or not. This was going to be our stop for the night. It had a dry shelter were we stripped off all our clothes and hung them in the vain hope that they will dry by morning (we only have 2 sets of clothing with us).

Luckily due to the fact we had eaten in the restaurant last night we had supplies for dinner. We dried off, put on dry clothes, made a cup of tea to warm up, cooked and ate dinner (without cutlery as this did not end up in any of the bags we packed) put up the tent and hopefully will have a semi comfortable night.

Just to top off a perfected fucked day, the air bed Lyn was sleeping on sprung a leak. They say what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger - well we must be stronger than Hercules! I think after the last week of gruelling bicycle rides and shitty weather canoeing Lyn may be planning her own itineraries in future.

I pray that we will have better weather tomorrow.

Thursday 19th Sept 13 (day 19)

The tent was full of low moral when we woke. A quick look outside revealed a grey cloudy sky overhead. It had not rained very much overnight but the morning sky almost gave us a promise of dampness later in the day.

We both stayed in bed as neither had the least bit of will power to get up and face the new day. We would not survive another day like yesterday - it was not possible.

Listening to the local church bells chime 8, then the half hour, then 9 and the half hour, then 10 we knew we could delay no longer and decided to make a start. Of course none of our clothes had dried so after a quick breakfast of stale baguette (saved from yesterday) and some butter and vegemite and a hot cup of tea we packed up. Lucky the tent was dry but the wet clothes were put into a wet bag and everything was loaded into the canoe.

It was 11.30 by the time we pulled away from the shoreline, giving a silent thank you to the camp site that rescued us last night.

Wow it was midday and still no rain. Woo hoo soon it was 2pm and still no rain, it fact we made it until now when I am typing this at 8.30pm and still no rain.

We ended up almost having an enjoyable day, well ok I will go ahead and say enjoyable. Fair enough we are in clothing that will almost walk away by themselves but we are only in our own company so all is good.

The scenery changed a little today from just greenery on both sides of the river to high cliffs where the river had many years ago eaten into the landscape. Even spied a few castles on the way. Hard to catch a town from the rivers edge as no buildings are close to the river due to flooding we think. It is very hard to navigate exactly where we are.

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Around 4.30pm we found a basic campground at a place called Gluges. Very tiny village, not even a shop to buy supplies, which we are out of. Lucky there is a cheap restaurant close where we ate a hearty dinner of confit of duck (never get sick of this) huge serve of french fries and salad. Splashed out and washed it down with a 1/2 caraf of Bergerac Rose! Much needed meal after a little lunch of left over breakfast baguette which was leftover from yesterdays breakfast. Just as we were about to start dinner who walks in but Tony the Malaysian guy we met yesterday. He is staying in same camp and we had dinner together comparing notes about our days journey on the river.

Had a short walk in the little village which only attraction was an old stone church which turned out to be the church were Edith Piaf was baptised.

I'm on the flat bed tonight, we plan on a short paddle tomorrow to get to next town where hopefully we can get washing done and make repairs to bed.

Thank you for no rain today it was much appreciated and same for tomorrow please with a not so cold night tonight thrown in.

Friday 20th Sept 13 (day 20)

During my uncomfortable sleep I was woken by the dreaded sound of raindrops falling on the tent roof. I have no idea what time it was but it was still dark so I rolled over and went back to sleep hoping that if I ignored it, the rain would go away. No such luck, the next time I woke was when the church bells rang the 8 o'clock morning call - still raining. Again roll over go to sleep and ignore it and perhaps it will go away. Again no such luck! We really had little choice but to wait it out a little. The rain was not heavy but enough to get us drenched if we left the sanctity of our little nylon heaven that was protecting us at the moment. We had no food and no where to buy any so just waited.

Close to midday it finally eased and we took the opportunity to get up and pack up and get out on the water. All we could do was have a quick cup of tea and it was almost 1pm when we did our first stroke on the water. This seems like a wasted day but there was no point getting out in the rain. Turns out we made the right decision as it remained dry for the rest of the day and we had not planned on going far today so did not need the whole day to paddle to arrive at our destination.

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The river was calm and mirror like. Nice gentle paddling for us, it was lovely really. Just an hour later we arrived at the campground where we wanted to spend the night. Of course it was unmanned as they all are between 12 and 4 so we pulled the canoe in and went to explore the little village as we still needed to buy food. The place was called Creysse and there was no shop of any description there, so really we had to go on further down the river to find a shop. First we had a nice stroll around the old village, beautiful, but you wonder what the people do in these places. They all seem to have an expensive hotel and restaurant but that is all. The ones that live there have to travel miles just to buy milk and bread. Before leaving I did ask a person who looked like they lived there where the closest market was, and she very kindly showed me the next town marked on our river mud map had a market.

Happy we trot back to our canoe as the next stop was only 2km down stream and we started dreaming of pork chops for dinner. It was just 3.30pm so we still had lots of time.
Within the hour we were pulling into the bank at Saint Sozy where there was an open campground and the man told me there was a supermarket just up the street. And he was right, we walked up and got pork chops which Lyn is cooking now while I type this.
We also stocked up on enough meals for the next few days in case we do not find another shop in a hurry. Our only worry now is getting low on camping gaz, but will go in search of that tomorrow.

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Unfortunately, no clothes dryer here at the camp so unable to dry clothes so we are still in the same stinky ones - but at least we got food and did not get wet. Our other clothes are now hand washed and hanging out to dry (thanks Lyn) with a bit of luck the night will be dry and we can wear them tomorrow. Hahahaha I make a joke.
I patched up the leak in the bed this afternoon also - again fingers crossed that works and the air stays in it - Lyn's turn again on the flat bed.

Hey we might smell (actually we smell atrocious!) but we are dry and soon to be fed - I can smell the pork so will sign off!

Saturday 21st Sept 13 (day 21)

I heard the rain fall gently on our tent last night so that means the clothes are wet again which means we are in the same ones for another day! It did not rain a great deal overnight but enough to wet the clothes.

We crawled out of the tent relatively early as it was dry out and we had food for breakfast - a good reason to get up. So by 9 we were out and about - big change from the last few days.

After packing up the tent and getting our gear together we went for another walk into town to get a couple of more supplies and the sun was out and warming us already. We did not have a long way to travel today so it was ok for us to take our time. First push off for the day was about midday.

Wow unreal blue sky and warm sunshine, what a glorious day. This is what I was hoping our trip would be like. We had a wonderful day, gliding along the mirror pond like river. Most enjoyable! Being a Saturday we shared the river with a few day trippers today but not for long as they were either in a hurry to get to the end destination and we just spent most of our time drifting along with the natural flow of the river. Yes this is what this trip was supposed to be like - today we wore just t-shirts - no jackets or raincoats. Heaven.

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Our plan was to have just a short paddle today as at the rate we were travelling (even with all the bad weather) we were ahead of schedule. We needed to slow down and take it all in a bit more - which was now possible with the sun out and we being able to enjoy the river.

The first choice of campground at Pinsac was actually closed. That is the biggest problem with travelling off season, a lot of camps are already closed down for winter. So we stopped there anyway and had our lunch and Lyn hung out the clothes to try and catch some rays for them to dry. We were in desperate need for these clothes to dry so we could put on a clean set. To kill a bit of time I went for a walk out onto the main road and discovered this was a road we had cycled on when we rode to Rocamadour. Cool.

It was still early in the afternoon so we headed back out on the water in search of the next camp ground to stop for the night. This one was so well hidden that we did not even see it. It has been a surprise to us that nothing is visible from the river and none of the camp grounds even have signs to say where they are. Navigation really is all guess work.

So around 4.30 we ended up stopping at Soulliac. This is also a town we rode our bikes through last week. And here was a lovely big flash camp ground that was open. I left Lyn riverside with our canoe while I went to investigate. This camp offered onsite cabins and although the weather had been beautiful all day I did not care we were going for a cabin at almost any cost. We wanted to sleep in a dry, warm, soft (the repair on the air bed yesterday did not work) bed. We wanted to have a hot shower, wash our clothes in a washing machine and be able to put on clean ones. This was all possible here at this campsite. Only one catch, the cabins were minimum 2 nights stay, if we stayed only one we would still have to pay for 2. Not a problem, we had a spare day up our sleeve so I booked us in for 2 nights. Heaven.

First up we made a quick trip to the nearest supermarket to buy fresh food, nothing from a tin tonight as we had a real kitchen to cook in. And as we had a fridge there was wine to be bought. Heaven!

After shopping we had a hot shower, and sat around (in knickers and T-shirts) eating duck pate, local cheese and sipping cooled wine, while the machine washed all of our remaining clothes. Then as Lyn hung them on the line (we are hoping for another sunny day tomorrow) I cooked fresh fish and potatoes which we had for dinner with a glass of chilled cider. Ok this luxury is costing more than a tent site for the night but we think we deserved it after the last 3 nights in the tent.

Oh what a wonderful day today on the Dordogne River!

Posted by Cindy Bruin 08:34 Archived in France Tagged river saint dordogne argentat gluges sozy souillac Comments (9)

Rocamadour. then a quick 30km round trip to Padirac Caves

walking is ok, but who are we kidding with these bikes?

Monday 16th Sept (day 16)

Ugg we woke up to the sound of rain on our tent this morning - not a sound you want to hear when camping. Not much point in hurrying to get up but we did eventually. Had a big day planned today but the weather is against us - remember our only mode of transport being Sofia and Fonsi.

Nowhere to shelter from the rain either when you are in a 2 star camp ground, they do have a couple of picnic tables with sun umbrellas near the reception office which we tried to take shelter under and have some breakfast. The lady in the office took pity on us and offered us the heated office to use while we ate. Very generous of her, we wanted to move in!

By midday the sky had started to clear and we decided to make our planned excursion to Gouffre de Padirac (Chasm of Padirac). It was a 30km round trip and we guessed leaving at midday we would be able to make it. Of course half hour on the road and the rain came and stayed with us for the rest of the day. But we were already out so decided to continue on. And again of course the route us up hill and down dale.

Beautiful countryside even in the rain.

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We made it to the caves and yes they were pretty impressive. No photos I'm afraid as this was not allowed in the cave. Info on brochure: " The Chasm of Padirac, the most famous in Europe, is considered as one of he greatest interesting geological sights of France. After a vertiginous descent by 3 lifts or 560 steps, 103 meters down, you take on board the subterranean river for a sail along the magnificent galleries. That's when you discover the Great Pendant - gigantic stalactite of 60 metres high - which, as hung by a string, seems to admire itself in the Lake of the Rain. You then go on foot to the Gours Lake or the Great Dome Room which vault is 94 metres high. A breathtaking sight!"

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Yes it was pretty impressive, but disappointing as the tour was only given in French even though in our group of 12 only 2 were French tourists. I found this very odd for an attraction that classes itself the most famous in Europe. Oh they did give us a brochure in English which was impossible to read due to the fact we were in a dark cave.!!

We jump on our bikes after not being able to get any lunch because it was after 3pm and lunch was officially over! Another sore point surely if you are a restaurant at the most famous site in Europe food should be served continually if people are willing to eat??

Anyway, back we on our bikes and head to the camp - in the rain. To make up for the lack of lunch, Lyn cooked a delicious meal of confit of duck which we purchased from the mini-market near the campground. Luckily the rain had stopped long enough for us to enjoy our dinner - even the sun showed it's face for sunset.

We have a long ride again tomorrow and due to lack of anything else to do as soon as it got dark we had well deserved hot showers and crawled into our little tent and went to sleep.

Tuesday 17th Sept 13 (day 17)

I woke to the sound of the 8am church bells ringing and happily not to the sound of rain on the tent. We are moving on today and did not want to have everything wet to try and pack up.

I was hoping for a 9am departure, but packing up and loading the bikes and having breakfast took longer than expected and it was 10.30 by the time we had paid and cycled out the campground. Goodbye Rocamadour.

About 200 meters out of town and we were already exhausted and we had 40 km to cover today. Thankfully about 1km in we were rewarded with a 6 km down hill run, and then punished by 2 km uphill push. This is how most of the day continued. Rewarding down hill runs followed by punishing up hill climbs where we had to push the full load of our bikes with gear.

It was a very hard day today, much harder even than our first day, but we did eventually make it to our destination of Grolejac. We passed many pretty little villages with houses made of stone. Not a soul about anywhere you wonder how or if these tiny places are surviving. Luck was on our side as we did not encounter any rain, which would have made the day even more strenuous.

After such a big effort and since we are starting our paddle tomorrow we decided to treat ourselves to a night in a hotel. Not much on offer here in Grolejac but Hotel du Pont just by the river managed to give us a room for 30 euro. Having found such a bargain we decided to have dinner here as well 12.50 euro for a set menu.

As I said tomorrow we start the paddle. Really hope the weather starts to clear as I can hear it raining now as we are about to go to bed. Funny the locals are saying they have no had this much rain in September for about 20 years! Typical!

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 04:35 Archived in France Tagged caves rocamadour padirac grolejac Comments (0)

Sarlat to Rocamadour - long, hard slog on Sofia & Fonsi

overcast 24 °C

Saturday 14th Sept 13 (day 14)

We woke up at 8ish, showered got dressed in our bum pants (aka padded bike pants) had a coffee/tea then coasted down to the supermarket at about 9ish. Bloody dog got out the gate so we had to catch him and make sure he was locked up before we left.

After breakfast of ham and baguette, we hit the road about 10ish. Of course I navigated the most difficult exit out of town and not until we had climbed (pushed the bikes) up 2 hills and flown down the other side did I realise that we could have taken a different road that stayed on the flat. Ooops.

We had a BIG RIDE today. Although the first 20 km was easy riding along an paved path that used to be an train line, so very smooth and relatively flat. As the day progressed the ride got harder and harder. Mid section was a few hills that we needed to push up but were then rewarded with a cooling, exciting down hill ride. Made even more exciting by the fact that both our bikes have very little breaking power, and now with the load on them it sometimes got a little scary on the fast down hill runs as the brakes did very little except make a lot of noise.

We stopped for a picnic lunch on the side of the road at a bench. This was our only option as there are never any picnic spots with tables, so we entertained the people walking past with our little picnic scene.

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By late afternoon we were pushing up and up and up and there did not seem to be any down to compensate. At about 3pm we stopped at a bus stop for a breather and I reckon if a bus had come along Lyn would have happily boarded it with no regard for where is was going or cost. Seems that my small effort of training before the trip faired me well and Lyn's lack of did not work in her favour. Unfortunately she was also hindered by the fact that Sofia was not happy her back wheel kept on jumping across and rubbing on the frame of the bike, which acted wonderfully as a brake. Not what you want when you are trying to pedal forward or push uphill.

All in all it was a hard slog, but what magnificent countryside. Wow France has been keeping herself a secret, this place is so beautiful. We crossed over the Dordogne river a few times and passed towns and villages that we will be passing when we paddle on the river. We did not do any extensive stops today as our main aim was to reach Rocamadour.

It was overcast all day and in the afternoon we had some light rain, but it was almost welcomed as we were pretty knackered and a bit of fresh rain did not hurt with the cooling of our overworked bodies. Of course as soon as we reached our destination and found a campground it rained steady but still light enough so we were able to set up the tent without getting everything too wet.

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I cooked our first camp dinner while Lyn set up the bedding in the tent. Pork chops and tin of vegies - easy - cooked on our little one burner camping gaz stove but we had to borrow a cigarette lighter from a fellow camper who obviously felt sorry for us and ended up saying we could keep it. Score!

The campground is 2 stars and very basic. As in no dunny paper and no tables and chairs but there is free wifi and it's only costing 15 euro per nite.

It's still raining now as I write this, it's dark now almost 9pm, time for a shower and then bed. Don't think it will matter how uncomfortable the camping bed is tonight for I am certain we will both sleep without any problems.

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Hope the weather clears for our exploration of Rocamadour tomorrow.

Sunday 15th Sept 13 (day 15)

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Last night when I returned to the tent from the shower the rain was really starting to come down. We ended up having a terrible night as it bucketed down fairly heavy continuously thru the night all night. It was cold and we both kept waking up thinking we were about to drown or at least get soaking wet. Luckily the tent did hold up and only a couple of things got slightly damp, but on awaking at 8am we were both still wreaked from yesterdays ride and the sleepless night. Hey it's Sunday to we are allowed to sleep in, which is exactly what we did. Rolled over and finally got a couple of hours decent sleep.

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Brunch of Ambert blue cheese on a fresh baguette with coffee and tea hit the spot at about 11.30am. Unfortunately the sky still does not look too promising although the sun is trying to break through and every 5 minutes we get a burst of sunshine and warmth. There are also blue patches and a bit of breeze to lets hope for the best for the rest of the day.

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It was still cold here today although we had no rain. We walked down to the old town of Rocamadour on the pilgrimage trail. All dates back to the 13th, 14th & 15th centuries, so pretty old stuff. We walked around and then walked back up the zigzag track.

I'm hoping the temperature is low here because we are at a high altitude, mental note to wear more clothes to bed tonight.

Lyn cooked a lovely dinner tonight of couscous royal with chicken and beef - sounds like an amazing achievement on our one burner - but it was all out of a can. Tasted great too!

As there is nowhere really to sit here in the campground as soon as it turns dark we will have showers and go to bed. Another big day planned for tomorrow as today was a rest day. Surprisingly we were not in the least muscle sore from our efforts yesterday, but maybe they will be felt tomorrow.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 11:01 Archived in France Tagged rocamadour Comments (3)

Bergerac to Sarlat - easy trip on the train

overcast 20 °C

Thursday 12th Sept (day 12)

It's overcast and dull today, but hopefully it will not rain. Our last day in Bergerac as this afternoon we catch a train to our next destination: Sarlat (pronounced sar-la, as the t is silent).

We are pretty much organised for our change of destination so no rush to get up early and we lazed in bed until late. It has been a wonderful relaxing time saying here with Jean in Bergerac and such a fabulously welcoming start to our French visit. After a simple breakfast Jean asked us the most important question for the day which was: 'who has an idea of what to have for lunch?' I love the way the French think - food is a major priority. After a bit of thought he suggest Lyn go on a short adventure to the local butcher and try to purchase some lamb chops for the bbq. As some of you may know I am not a big fan of lamb but I was sure anything I eat in this country was going to taste wonderful, so it was agreed we would have chops from the halal butcher for lunch.

While Lyn took care of this Jean and I drove to the train station to make sure the train was all ok for this afternoon. On the way we noticed the halal butcher was closed so that killed the lunch idea, more thoughts of food choices would have to made.

We had success at the train station encountering a much nicer 'French lady behind the glass'. Also helps when you have a native speaker with you. I purchased the tickets there and then so we would be sorted for this afternoon and would not have to worry about trying to purchase them when the train was due.

Our task accomplished thoughts had returned back to what to have for lunch. Last night we had been talking about French food and confit of duck came up in conversation, mainly because it is a local speciality from this area. Easy decision, this would be our choice for lunch and off to the supermarket we went to find Confit de Canard in a can! Please people google this dish to see what it is, I tried to copy and paste description but IPad does not like to do such things.

Our last meal with Jean was very enjoyable indeed! The duck was magic and we also shared a final bottle of Monbazillac in celebration of good times had and safe travels to come.

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Soon it was 5pm and time for us to make the first journey on our loaded Sofia and Fonsi to the train station. I must admit the first couple of 100 meters was somewhat wobbly for me as I quickly got used to steering with the somewhat heavy load on the bike. We were amazed that all the luggage we had fit into the panniers. Kisses and waves goodbye we were on our way. Due to the short distance to the station we were there in plenty of time for the 5.31pm departure. But best to be early then scrambling to get bike and gear on the train in a hurry. It's a little bit of a pain getting the bikes on the train as we must remove the pannier bags as the bikes need to be hung up in the carriage. We managed successfully and soon were sitting back in comfort watching the very pretty and green countryside wizz past us. Part of the way we will see again but from the perspective of being on the river.

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An hour and a half later we were unloading at Sarlat station and cycling towards the centre. We needed to find a distinguishable landmark to meet our couch surfing hosts after I phoned them. These lovely people had actually emailed us with regards to hosting so we thought we would give it a go. The only problem was they did not speak very much English and we of course speak very zero French!

I telephoned Didier and we managed to ascertain that we would wait at the tourist office and he would come collect us. Immediately we recognised there was a language barrier, but hey, mores the fun. Point to note Sarlat is not a flat town, more like a town built on a roller coaster of hills which of course were all in the upward direction to get to our hosts home. Huffing and puffing due to pushing the weighed down bikes up many hills we finally made it to our hosts home and were introduced to Florence - Didier's partner. She was a little shy and advised her English was nil. Well this was not true because after we had brought our bags inside to the room where we were to sleep, we all four sat around the table outside having a drink and a very stunted, slow and funny conversation. All would be fine.

At about 8 we suggested dinner and walked back down to the old center to a suggested restaurant. We had an amazing 3 course meal of fois gras, confit of duck (can't get enough of that) and a yummy creamy nutty toffee dessert that was served in a jar (the name of which escapes me). This was a good deal at 16 euro ($23) each. And the conversation went just great - no problems - we had lots of laughs also. After such a big meal it was nice to be able to walk home even if it was all uphill.

Friday 13th Sept 13 (day 13)

By the time we woke up our hosts had already left for work. Florence worked breakfast at a hotel in town and Didier is a postman. We had quick coffee & tea and headed into town to find breakfast. Lyn had spied a Lidl supermarket on the way in yesterday and we headed there to buy some food and had a little picnic in a little clearing near the carpark. Fresh baguette and cheese - great way to start the day.

The rest of the day we walked around the historic town of Sarlat - old buildings were beautiful and we were thankful that it was not the middle of summer as this place would have been swarming with tourists. It was crowded enough as it was and we heard plenty of English accents as we wandered around. One thing I did notice however was the average age of all the tourists, meandering around the cobbled pedestrian lane ways, was about 70! We were spring chickens compared to most, obviously this was not a hip young backpacker sort of place. Not to worry we enjoyed the day which ended in the afternoon by us sitting in the main square with a corner shop bought beer (third of the price of one if we sat in a cafe) people watching. Our favourite pastime! The weather although grey and cloudy all day had not rained so we were also thankful for that.

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We again walked up the hill, by this time it was after six - Florence and Didier were home. They said we were invited to a friends house to see some art and sculptures created by a local artist. This sounded nice, so at 7.30 we all piled into their car and drove about 10 minutes to a little village 4km away. As we drove onto the property we were met by modern sculptures littering the yard. Very odd stuff if you ask me, but I'm not one for modern, don't make any sense 'art'. We also saw 2 large galleries full of this artist stuff and really again 'I don't get it'. But, whatever.

We had a nice evening with our new limited English French friends and now had an extra friend. Hats off to these French people who have the reputation of being so arrogant, their English was much better than our French will ever be and we are in their country after all.

Another good night of great food and laughs was had.

Back at home we bit farewell to our wonderful hosts as they will be gone to work before make our departure. We have a big bike ride tomorrow, we are going to attempt to get to Rocomadour approx 50km away, but if we only get half way that would be good too.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 10:32 Archived in France Tagged sarlat Comments (1)

2013 SEPT FRANCE - BERGERAC - it's French

the creation of FONSI and SOFIA

sunny 25 °C

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Tuesday 10th Sept 13 (day 10)

This morning we woke to sunny part blue skies. Looking out the window down river there was thick fog which made it impossible to see the far bank. Also looking over the bridge towards the city the high steeple of the church was also hidden by the fog, however the river was calm which made for a perfect reflection of Bergerac's wonderful bridge on the waters surface.

Our mission for today was to get the acquisition of bikes organised. Jean had some errands to run and said he would check out the bikes his friend had told him about and assess them for worthiness, we would also drive out to Decathalon Sports Store to compare the price of new bikes.

We had a lazy morning, sitting outside in the garden when the sun was not hidden by the overhead clouds. The weather forecast for today is for rain, and although pretty cloudy I don't think we will get any of the wet stuff today. It seems way to lovely enjoying the sun for the thought of rain to maybe happen.

On Jean's return he informed us that the bikes his friend had recommended were in no way suitable for our needs. They must have been real wreaks as he laughed as he told us he did not know what his friend must be thinking. So, on to plan B, we drove out to Decathalon. Here they had lovely shiny new bikes that were perfect for our requirements in every way except the price. 180 euros ($220) each. This is way over our budget so on to plan C - mmm did we have a plan C? Didn't matter that we didn't have a plan C as our very generous host Jean was already formulating a plan C in his mind.

On the way home a quick stop at the supermarket to purchase lunch and dinner supplies. As the day was still beautiful it was decided we would have a bbq lunch of pork chops - one of my personal favourites and then for dinner I spied some cute little quails in the deli window. At 2 euro ($3) each these could not be resisted.

Back at home with the charcoal bbq sizzling our chops, Jean told us about his plan C. He already had a operational bike that would be suitable and he had another the same that could be brought up to operational standard. We were welcome to take these for the cost of the repairs etc. This was a very generous offer and we were happy to accept. Hardest part would be to try and organise the return of the bikes to Bergerac. But, a friend is part of a bike association here in Bergerac and is sure there is one near the end of our bike journey where we would be able to leave the bikes and their return to Bergerac could be arranged later. Wow, what amazingly generous people we have met, remember these people did / do not know us from a bar of soap. We only just met yesterday! it's just great the help they are offering us.

After a very enjoyable lunch of bbq pork chops sitting outside in the garden, Jean went off to repair the 2nd bike and Lyn & I continued to enjoy the sunshine. Although forecasted, the rain did not come at all and in the afternoon we took a walk into town to find the tourist office. Not very helpful I was hoping to get a map of the area. We continued our walk along the river to the local campground just to check out what facilities are like in a French campground. All looked ok, lots of motor homes and caravans from other European countries who's climate is not as enjoyable this time of year. There was even a couple of tents set up under trees on grassy patches. If this was the average standard it looked alright and we worked out the price would be approx 15 euro ($22) per night for 2 adults, 1 tent & 2 bikes.

2 minutes after we arrive back home, Jean returned also with the 2nd bike sporting 2 new tyres and a few other little components. Fabulous we now have wheels.

Tonight dinner was oven roasted quails - omg so yummy. And of course wine and more cheese.

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Another fabulous day in Bergerac.

Wednesday 11th Sept 13 (day 11)

How happy was I to wake up and see blue sky and sunshine. There was no fog this morning - looked like the makings of a beautiful day.

After a leisurely breakfast, which consisted of a baguette that Lyn had walked around the corner to get fresh at the bakery, we decided to take our new bikes for a test ride. We needed to go to the train station to check out a train to our next destination. First, I said we needed to give our bikes a name. Jean has this habit of naming all his beloved vehicles so I thought it only apt to do the same for the vehicles he had arranged for us. Lyn's choice for her bike was SOFIA. This came from the name plate of the last owner which was on the bike. Apparently years ago it was compulsory for owners too have a name plate affixed to their bicycle for identification. And I have named mine FONSI - after the name of the street where we are staying Fonsivade. I have posted photos on FB of our bikes but let me give you a bit of a description. These are not new bikes by any means, to tell the truth they are old wrecks which have been given a new lease of life! It's amazing what new tyres and new chain can do for an old sturdy frame.
As we rode them out the gate, down the lane and across the bridge, these 2 fabulous bikes creaked and moaned and rattled and squeaked like old bomby cars. But this somehow added to the adventure and I instantly fell in love with my new mode of transport and the adventure it was about to take me on. I hope to god Lyn felt the same way about her new stead as these bikes have a long journey ahead to fulfil.

The train station was straight up the main road only about 1km away so we had no problem finding it. The problem was however had when I approached the ticket counter to try and get some information from the 'lovely French lady' behind the glass. As usual my first question is 'do you speak English?' Now I know I am in their country and it is very arrogant of me to assume they speak my language, but I am not trying to be rude or presumptuous - I just want to know what level of charades and hand signal language I need to adapt to acquire the information I need. Well this 'lovely French lady' was having none of it and every question I asked her including ''do you speak English" was answered with a strong NOI!!! accompanied by a palm up, talk to the hand gesture, in my face hand signal. Ok, so I did end up with a little inkling of the fact that there were no trains that we could take the bikes on that were going to the town we wanted. Unsure of my interpretation of 'lovely French lady's' answers we decided to go down to the tourist office to seek further assistance. Tourist office said it should be no problem to get a train to the town of choice with bikes. So who to believe??

Off we rode and came upon the local market which we had a stroll around. We were actually looking for handle bar baskets for our bikes, but alas there were not any bike parts stalls. Stopping at a supermarket for lunch supplies we rode back home as we had arranged to meet with Jean for lunch back at the house. Lunch was consumed out on the terrace as it was perfect out. At this particular time of the day there was not a cloud in the expansive blueness that was the early afternoon sky. Glorious!

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Lunch over, Jean looked on the internet after hearing our train station story and discovered that the train track we were to use was under repair and only one very early morning train and one afternoon train was running. The trains scheduled for the rest of the day were being replaced by buses doing the same route. This was not good for us as the buses would not take bikes. As we did not fancy attempting the 7am departing train in the morning it was decided we would go for the 5.30pm train tomorrow. Fingers crossed this train will allow us to take on the bikes. Think we may pay another visit to the station tomorrow morning to make sure.

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Still wanting handlebar baskets we had no choice but to go back to Decathlon store to purchase them. The store was only 2km away and it again gave us a chance to test the bikes for any adjustments that may be necessary. Fonsi and Sofia made it there and back without any drama, with both Lyn and I astride them - even though we had to ride on a semi-busy road. We arrived back with new baskets and supplies for dinner which were picked up on the way at the supermarket. More local wine, more cheese - it's a wonderful time.

We had dinner with Matthew, Jean's youngest son, tonight. Nice bloke. He had lived and worked in Melbourne for 2 years and was happy to hear Aussie accents again. It was a very enjoyable evening - great food, great wine, great company - seems to be the French way and to quote a famous Scott - I'm lovin' it!

Weather wise it was perfect today, please Dordogne hold on to this weather for us.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 02:35 Archived in France Tagged bergerac Comments (1)

2013 SEPT FRANCE - HELLO FRANCE! First stop Bergerac

Where is the man with the big nose?

rain 18 °C

Monday 9th Sept 13 (day 9)

We woke up early to a sunny day, looks like Holland is putting on a happy face for our departure. Our bags were packed thanks to a little organisation last night so after we had showered and dressed we headed down stairs to have breakfast. In true backpacker style while enjoying breakfast we made a small sandwich roll to take with us to have at the airport before getting on the plane later.

The bus shuttle to the airport was up next to the train station so we did not have far to walk after checking out of the hotel. Stepping outside into the street although the sun was shining it was still only about 15 degrees so a distinct chill to the air. Passing through the train station I cashed out our transport cards, better we have the 40 euro with us than sitting on a couple of cards we won't be using in the foreseeable future. Arriving at the bus stop we were just in time to get the shuttle bus which was about to depart for the 20 minute drive to the airport. 3 euro ($4.40) each.
We had plenty of time before our flight after checking in our luggage. As we sat waiting for our flight to be called I pondered what the next weeks were going to expose us to. I also had a silent prayer/wish that the weather in the south of France is going to be somewhat dryer and higher on the temperature gauge than it was here in Holland.

Just as our flight was called to board the sky opened up and it started to pour down with rain. So instead of walking the 100 meters to the plane we were ferried in buses which delayed the flight by half an hour. Nice goodbye to Holland flying into wet, turbulent skies.

Flight Rotterdam to Bergerac was only 1 hour 20 minutes and before we knew it we were landing in France. The brief glimpse of the landscape, from the plane, below was very green. Bergerac airport reminded me of someone's garage, just a big tin shed, so pretty basic. We had to wait for the luggage to be unloaded and delivered to the shed, so by this time we were close to an hour late. Not that this mattered except that we were being met by our couch surfing host Jean. I had been exchanging emails with Jean for a few months and he was kind enough to offer his assistance not only as accommodation host but also to help up find and purchase bicycles. All we had to go on was a photo but were assured he would recognise us. Sure enough, Lyn spied an man standing smoking a pipe and eyeballing every passenger as if to search for someone. In true French style, we were both greeted by a kiss on both sides of the face (I dare not write both cheeks!) as Jean introduced himself. Lucky for us he spoke perfectly good French accented English. We found out later his father had been a lawyer holding the bar in France and England and his mother was an English teacher so the children were speaking English from a very early age.
Ironically, as soon as we headed to the car park it started to rain. Bugger, the precipitation had followed us south down from Holland. Jean drove us the short distance from the airport to his home - well actually it is his partners, Christine's home. Unfortunately, Christine is away on the French Riviera playing bridge. The house is amazing, a lovely old restored attached stone cottage. Situated next to the river just over the bridge that led into the old town of Bergerac. Wow it's truly amazing.

First up Jean offered us a beer and instantly we knew we were going to get on ok - we all speak English and we all drink - a great friendship is born.
After sitting around chatting it was time to go to the supermarket and get supplies for dinner. Jean then took us for a quick drive around the town of Bergerac. He told us most of the residents in this area are retired as there is not much industry or jobs for anyone. Of course this is a wine area and that is probably the main source of employment for a lot of locals. There is also a gunpowder factory just outside Bergerac which in it's heyday employed 3000 people, but alas not that much call for gunpowder anymore. The factory still operates but only employing 300 people and they make the small explosive devises that set off airbags and seat belts in cars. See it's great staying with a local you get all this inside info.

The weather still had not cleared, still light rain, but Lyn & I decided to go for a short walk into town anyway. We had our trusty rain capes and a little rain would not kill us. We wandered around the old town taking photos (see FB), although after an hour when it still had not dried up we headed home. That was after we found the statue of the famous Cyrano de Bergerac!

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Earlier when at the supermarket with Jean we had purchased a bottle of the local wine. The area is well know for its sweet white wine, so yes, you guessed it we are in wine heaven. Monbazillac is the name of a little town and the name of the wine which we sampled and instantly loved. Good choice of areas to visit in France so far!
Jean cooked us a dinner of local sausages and pan fried potatoes and we finished the meal with a magnificent aromatic (aka stinky) soft cheese, called Livrot, which comes from Normady. Y-U-M-M-Y. This may become our staple diet while in this area, sweet white wine and pungent smelling soft cheese - heaven on a stick.

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After dinner we sat around chatting again and came to the subject of bicycles. Jean has a friend who fixes and sells 2nd hand bikes - also Jean used to own a bicycle shop here in Bergerac for 6 years so I think we are in pretty good hands. He phoned his friend to see what he might have for us. Of course we could not understand any of the conversation going on but once he had finished Jean explained to us that his friend may have 2 bikes that may be of use to us. However as he continued to explain he said his friend had dumped, yes dumped them on the side of the road somewhere and perhaps they needed a little repair to be of use to us. This was hilarious but they were both quite serious. So it was agreed that tomorrow morning Jean was to go to this dumping spot (he told us he had actually already seen them there and figured it was his friend to left them there) and see if they were salvageable. Another option was Jean's friend was going to loan us his bikes that he had done the same bike trip as we intend on doing. But this option meant that we would have to return the bike here to Bergerac and that would mean doing a huge loop not on the itinerary. But how nice are these people don't even know us and willing to help out so much. I tell you all the bad publicity that the French get is definitely not true - our experience with these locals is nothing but fabulous and generous so far.

Day one in France - loving it - if only the weather would clear.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 02:35 Archived in France Tagged bergerac Comments (2)

2013 SEPT NETHERLANDS - A QUICK HELLO TO HOLLAND

2day stopover to collect stuff

rain 18 °C

Saturday 7th Sept 13 (day 7)

Arriving at 7am the sun had only just risen, and it was somewhat colder than the Asian continent. We had a coffee at the airport before catching a train to Rotterdam, where I had booked a hotel for the next 2 nights. Hotel check-in is 3pm so there was no great rush to get there. After recharging our Dutch transport cards we boarded a train that promised to take us from Schiphol airport to Rotterdam in 25 Minutes for 11.20 euro (just under $20) - a bit more expensive here compared to public transport costs in Asia. Welcome to Europe!

The sky looked bleak as we travelled across the countryside to Rotterdam. Ironically as soon as we stepped out of the covered train station it started to rain. It was only light rain and luckily the hotel was not too far to walk according to my hotel mud map. Again my navigational skills failed me and we did take the long route to reach the Grand Central Hotel, but the short walk was welcomed after so many hours sitting in a cramped plane seat. Hotel found, we were advised the room of course was not yet available, fair enough as it was still too early at 9am. We were welcome to sit in the foyer which is what we did and by 10.30 our room was ready to move into. Pretty good service. We settled in and then went out for a walk to look around and to find some lunch. Downtown Rotterdam was a pretty dead place on a Saturday morning even though the weather had cleared. Walking up the main shopping street it was almost noon before all shops were open and people started to appear. At the end of the main drag we came across the weekly outdoor market which we had a walk around. Lots of fresh fruit and veggies and the in season choices were looking lovely, fresh and reasonable prices were displayed. A few mouth watering fish mongers were also displaying their goods and Lyn & I could not manage to walk past a mussel stall without indulging. Wow they were very yummy and we shared very generous portion size for 5 euro ($8.00). On the way out of the market we also purchased a smoked mackerel fish which we ate back at the hotel with fresh bread bought from a supermarket.
There were a few more people out and about now. The sky had cleared and the Main Street was now swarming with Saturday shoppers.

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Didn't do much for the rest of the day. We had a dinner date who met us at the hotel at 7pm. We met Peter12 a few trips ago when we stayed with him when he lived in the south of Holland. Coincidentally, Peter now lives in Rotterdam and we all went out for dinner to catch up. We chose a restaurant not far from the hotel and all ordered a slab of ribs. It was great to see our friend again and although the ribs were all you could eat, due to the extra large initial serve we couldn't fit any more in.

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Walking back to the hotel we realised that although the hotel seemed in a good position during the day, during the night we seemed to be in the middle of the all night bars area. Loud music, very loud music continued until the early hours. 5am was the last time I woke and it was just starting to quiet down then. Call me old but I prefer sleep to all night, than listening to loud partying these days.

Sunday 8th Sept 13 (day 8)

Not a wonderful nights sleep due to all the noise outside. Woke up to a wet day.

Breakfast provided by the hotel was fantastic and we spend at least an hour over a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast.

I came up with the idea to perhaps hire bicycles today and have a bit of a ride around. The weather put a kibosh on that idea so we are having a vege out day in front of the telly instead. Feeling no guilt about a lazy day as we paid for a nice room and intend to get our money's worth! Like I said soon we will be spending our nights in a tent so we are enjoying these comforts without guilt while we can.

However we needed to leave the comforts of our room at 6pm and catch a train to The Hague. We had a 7pm appointment to collect some of our belongings that we left with a friend last trip. It's important stuff that we need for our bike trip in France. The train from Rotterdam to The Hague is only about 30 minutes and from memory we knew we'd be able to get a tram from the station to where we needed to be. Of course no one had informed us that the tram line we wanted to ride had closed down, so we had little choice but to walk the distance. It wasn't really that far and probably only took us about 25 minutes, but of course again, ironically, it started to pour down with rain about 5 minutes into our walk. Luckily we had our rain ponchos with us, but still walking in the pissing down rain is no fun. Our bag of goodies collected, we headed just around the corner to a favourite restaurant we always like to eat at when we're in this neck of the woods.

Seafood calzone was on the menu and we managed to dry off while having dinner and the rain had eased a bit for the rest of our walk back to the train station.

Back in our hotel room, it hit home that we really do have too much luggage for the type of trip we are attempting. And yet everything we have is really the bare minimum needed for the type of trip we are doing. Stuck between a rock and a hard place I went online and purchased extra check in luggage weight for our flight to France tomorrow. It will be fine.

A little exciting as the adventure will really start to take shape tomorrow.

Look out France - here we come.

See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 23:44 Archived in Netherlands Tagged rotterdam Comments (2)

2013 SEPT MALAYSIA - STOPOVER IN ASIA part 3

Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur Free day KL

sunny 26 °C

Thursday 5th Sept 13 (day 5)

Today is a travel day. We are flying from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur. One of the reasons I chose to come to Ayutthaya was to get out of the craziness of Bangkok and it is just as close to the Don Mueang airport as coming from Bangkok. So you can imagine my horror to find that a minivan to the airport from here was quoted at 600 baht ($20.80) per person. This was ridiculous considering a minivan to Khao San Road in Bangkok was only 200 baht ($6.95) per person which is double the distance. Do these people want to really stick it to you for the last trip you have to the airport in their country??

Luckily on the train trip up we passed through a station that was named Don Mueang so it had to be near the airport. And the fact that I had seen a sign on the station platform that pointed to a pedestrian overpass that read to airport terminal. So we decided to take the train instead, we figured if we left early enough we could account for any train delays and still get to the airport on time. For once we had a flight that was at a normal time in the middle of the day scheduled to depart at 1.05pm.

Returning the motorbikes and recovering my passport, we had breakfast and checked out of our hotel. It was a really nice place and the ladies all came out to say goodbye with big smiles and as we left we were handed another bottle of cold water for our journey. Would definitely recommend this place Baan Are Gong Homestay at Ayutthaya in case any of you readers ever make it there.

We were in time at the train station, a mere 3 minutes walk from our hotel, to catch the 9.01am train. I purchased tickets 11 baht (38c) each - far cry from 600 baht each! We were on time but of course the train was not, it was delayed by 15 minutes, but that was ok cause we had allowed enough leeway for train delays.

The train did arrive on time, the new delayed time, and soon we were on our way to the airport. The train was even more basic than the one we came up in. Hard seats this time and again the only air con was the breeze that blew threw the windows. It was an enjoyable journey and a nice way to exit Thailand. Although noisy, grotty and windy it was 100% on the overpriced minivan trip that would have cost 600 times the price.

Turned out we arrived at the airport with lots of time to spare, we were even too early to check in. Patrick caught the same train as us as he was returning to Bangkok and decided to get off at the airport to see us off. We sat around chatting until it was time to check in then still had time to spare. Patrick bid us goodbye when it was time for us to go through immigration and our departure gate. This is when I noticed that our flight had been delayed by 1 hour 10 minutes. He left and we continued to the gate and had no choice but to wait around until our flight was called to board.

Lyn & I killed some time by having an overprice fast food lunch, but you expect crap food at crazy prices when you are a captive audience in an airport.

We boarded, again on time at the new delayed time, and the 2 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur was uneventful. I dozed a little so it went fairly quickly. We were even later landing in KL due to having to circle several time because of heavy air traffic. After landing and disembarking it was the usual 3 kilometre walk from the Air Asia plane steps to the terminal gates. Luggage collected, outside a bus was waiting to take us to KL Sentral. Our Indian bus driver had obviously heard that our flight was delayed as he did his very best to go as fast as possible to make up for lost time. Unfortunately for us, we had a front seat and I had a perfect view of the bus speedo which did not keep in time with the signs posted along the highway. And it seems that if you are a bus and a lot bigger than most vehicles on the highway it's ok to just cross 5 lanes of traffic at the last minute to avoid missing a highway exit turn off. Mental note to look for this bus driver if we are ever running late to get to the airport.

Just one stop on the KL rapid and we were in China town and again in familiar territory. We checked into our hotel and then went out to have satay sticks at our favourite street food stall. No visit to KL is complete without a meal at the satay stall, we have been coming for years, the best bit is the peanut sauce.

A quick walk around the markets, very quiet here tonight. Not many tourists around at all.
The weather seems to be a lot cooler here than Bangkok - no humidity at all.

Back to hotel for a shower and watch a bit of telly before bed.

Friday 6th Sept 13 (day 6)

Because we had an interior windowless room, it was pitch black when we woke and we had no idea what time it was. We had to turn on a light and dodge our laundry which was strung up across the room to see what time it was. Our hotel rooms always take on the appearance of a Chinese laundry, as we wash out the days clothes every night before bed hoping they will dry overnight and serve another day. They usually do as we long since adapted our travel clothes to quick dry fabrics.

Turned out it wasn't that late at all and as today is a free day it would not have mattered anyway. Breakfast on the balcony of our hotel, overlooking the mornings activities of Pedaling Street, turned out to be better than expected. The Chinatown daytime stall holders were just setting up for the days trade and our favourite duck lady was already doing a roaring trade - as per usual.
We have visited Kuala Lumpur many times now and it was a bit of a challenge to find something to do for the day as we have seen the sights and really a visit to a flash shopping mall is not for us. While surfing the net a few months back I stumbled on a site that mentioned KL is now running 2 free bus services, that allow anyone to catch them and to get on and off at your leisure. This sounded like something that would fill our time and a good chance to people watch while moving around the city. Lucky for us one of the loops passed through Chinatown, so after we finished breakfast and had purchased half a duck for later, we set off to the bus stop.

GO-KL buses turned out to be quite nice. Obviously a lot newer than the local buses, air conditioned and with free wifi! And no fares to boot! We took a seat, checked in on the Internet and were off into the always busy traffic. The two bus routes are only short - just over 6 & 7 km's respectively, but due to traffic we sat for almost an hour before we arrived at the loops crossover bus stop and disembarked the purple line to get onto the green line. We were lucky to get seats on both buses as these free rides were very popular. Funny though we seemed to be the only 'tourists' aboard. Perhaps the service is not very well advertised to tourists, but is still getting wide use from locals who were enjoying the free ride to get them to their chosen destination.
After travelling along about half of the green line - about an hour - we got out at the bus stop at the Petronas Twin Towers. Very flash shopping mall here that we were bored with, within 3 minutes of seeing the shop names. All high end stuff, definitely nothing within our back packer budget. So we found a westernised coffee shop and sat with an over priced coffee (overpriced for Malaysia, but same price as home) and watched other tourist, locals and shop workers go about their sight seeing or working movements. And anyway the coffee was on someone else who had given Lyn some left over ringgits. Thanks to that person, you know who you are, but probably not reading this anyway!
After enjoying our coffee and a nice seat watching passing foot traffic, we returned to the mall and found a supermarket that sold real bread, an oddity in Asia and had a picnic lunch outside in the park at the back of the towers.

The two bus loops back to Chinatown took even longer than earlier due to peak hour traffic. We managed to get seats on both buses again so were not too worried about the time it took. Back at the hotel we enjoyed a last beer on the balcony, now watching the new stall holders setting up. In Chinatown there are two shifts for stalls, a daytime shift and a nighttime shift.

We had kept our room for the extra day, cheap enough to do so and gave us somewhere safe to leave our luggage. Also enabling us to have a shower after our day out and before our late night flight. So we showered, packed and ate our duck for dinner before heading off to the airport.
Perfect timing on the metro delivered us to the airport shuttle bus at KL Sentral just 2 minutes before its departure. A little over an hour later - again very heavy traffic - we were entering the airport terminal to be confronted by a very very very long check in line. Seemed to be a lot of Malaysian airways flights leaving between 10 and midnight and we all had to queue up for the same check in counters. Snaking our way in line it was over an hour before it was our turn to check in the luggage, which meant we had to head straight away to immigration and our departure gate to make the flight.

There is nothing exciting to tell you about a 13 hour flight! We watched a few movies, tried our best to get some sleep and managed to survive the journey without too much discomfort.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 08:36 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kuala lumpur Comments (0)

2013 SEPT THAILAND - STOPOVER IN ASIA part 2

Bangkok to Ayutthaya

sunny 30 °C
View 2013 Sept ON THE WAY ASIAN STOPOVER on Cindy Bruin's travel map.

Tuesday 3rd September 2013 (day 3)

Another hot day in down town Bangkok!

Have wasted away the morning trying to send off the blog. Stupid ipad will not pick up a group email listing. So I spent hours after breakfast trying to work out a way to do it and as you will see the only possible solution I could work out is to send everybody (via 8 emails) the link to a blog page. Sorry to those who don't like this format but I have now wasted enough time on the solution and this one works for me. The link takes you direct to the page so it should be simple even for the computer challenged operators. Phew!

Ok so it was well and truly afternoon before we made our move. Please note, it was not just me that was holding up our progress, we were also waiting for Lyn's son Patrick to wake up and join us. He had a big night on the tiles so is a little seedy today. But we have heaps of time so this is not an issue - relax mode is switched. :-)

Just after 1pm we made our move and walked to the end of the Soi to get a taxi to Hualamphong train station. This proved to be a little more difficult than you can imagine, as most taxi drivers think we have just stepped of the last flight from Australia and are keen to rip us off. None of the metered taxis that I flagged down wanted to actually use the meter and were trying to get me to pay 200 baht ($7.00) for their driving skills. The fact that more than 2 were happy to drive away rather than put on the meter immediately told me that this was a less than 100 baht trip. And that was exactly the case when we finally did get an honest one to stop and offer to take us with using the meter. 70 baht ($2.45) thank you very much for a 20 minute taxi fare.

At the station we were advised by the very obliging information staff that the next train to Ayutthaya would be departing at 2.06pm giving us about 15 minutes to get a ticket and find something to eat. Lyn stood with the luggage as I went to the ticket booth and purchased the train tickets. Only 3rd class was available as it was just a 3rd class train. After hearing that and paying the fare - a measly 15 baht (50c) each I was not expecting much in the way of train.

However after buying some snacks we made our way to platform #7 and climbed into the waiting train. It was not so bad after all. Sure it was not air conditioned , but there were dusty old oscillating fans bolted to the ceiling and sash windows that were opened and would supply us with a nice breeze once the train started moving.

We left the platform on time and for the next hour seemed to be travelling through the backyards of suburban Bangkok. Probably not back yards as everyone would imagine as most shack type housing was built almost to the train tracks. It was interesting to see it from this side, like looking into the behind the scenes of peoples lives. This is true of just about anywhere you travel through suburbia by train, you always see the behind the homes prospective.

It seemed like ages before we finally got out into a bit of open country side. Here the landscape looked green and a lot cleaner than the clutter and messiness of the big city.

Just short of 2 hours we pulled into Ayutthaya station. Just 2 minutes before the conductor had come through the carriage and advised us the next stop was ours. It was a crowded station and soon we were being asked by numerous tuk tuk drivers where we were going. But we were not in need of any transport as the hotel I had pre booked was just down the lane across the road from the station. Oooo long way, five minute walk - the drivers all insisted. Two minutes later I could see the sign of the place I had booked, however a little distressing was the sight of a huge burnt out building behind the sign. Turns out is wasn't our place, we were next door.

We were greeted with big smiles, very little English and a cold bottle of water. I'd made a great choice as this is a lovely old wooden Thai style house right on the rivers edge.
Patrick excused himself to go have a shower and a lie down (still feeling seedy - thought these young blokes could bounce back) so Lyn & I took a seat in the waterside restaurant and spent the rest of the afternoon watching the assorted river traffic glide by. We were accompanied by the refreshing taste of a few cold Chang beers to wile away the time. Tomorrow looks like a good day for exploring.

Evening time we wandered out to find some dinner and source a place to hire a motor bike for tomorrow, and that was the end of another relaxing lazy day. Not feeling too guilty about not doing too much as we are still kind of winding down and we know very soon the weeks ahead are going to be a bit more physical.

Wednesday 4th Sept 13 (day 4)

Ayutthaya! Just 70 odd kilometres north of Bangkok, this was the royal capital of Thailand for over 417 years from 1350 to 1767, creating the longest and most powerful kingdom in the history of the country. Even though it was taken by the Burmese and totally sacked, what were left are the remnants of this glory, characterised by the Prangs (reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries in the rich Ayutthaya historical park. The historic town of Ayutthaya, was announced by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site in 1991.

We rose up early enough and already it was showing signs of becoming a hot day. A quick breakfast at a restaurant few doors down from our hotel, where we'd stopped on our way home last night and organised to hire a couple of motorbikes for the day, at only 150baht ($5.20) each. Lyn rode one with me on the back and Patrick on the other one.

We headed off towards the bridge to cross over to Ayutthaya - which is actually an large island at the junction of 3 rivers: Chao Phraya river, Pasak river & Lop Buri river. These 3 rivers flow and encircle the city. Rows of houses line up along the river bank, showing the deep connection between the people and the rivers. Most of the tourist attractions here are historical places, such as temples and palaces. It was too hot too visit them all and really one pile of rubble looked much like the rest so I made a suggestion we just visit one site and that way at least we had seen one!

Our first stop however was Wat Lokayasutharam whose main attraction is a huge reclining Budda. Lucky for us Patrick is better at navigating than we are because after riding around trying to find Lokay he took one look at the map and a few streets and corners later, there she lay in all her glory. Actually, not in all her glory, as she was covered with a giant orange sheet. I think Lyn and I would still be riding round in circles trying to find it.

Enroute to the reclining wonder we did stumble on a Memorial to Queen Suriyothia. Not quite sure who she was or how she fitted into the scheme of things. And the memorial looked more like a battle memorial, soldiers with swords, men in battle regatta mounted on huge battle elephants, but that what the map said it was.

Next stop was Wat Maha That - entry fee 50 baht ($1.75) I chose this one because I had seen post cards of a Budda head growing in the vines of a tree and that looked cool. Most of this site was in ruins - bits had been restored and bits looked like they would come tumbling down on us at any moment. Ayutthaya is prone to flooding and when these prangs and chedi's were built they did not much care about foundations. Many could be named 'leaning prang of Ayutthaya' and I don't think it was wise to walk on the shady side of any of these ancient brick constructions. Cool it was, but cool the weather was not. It was a steamer of a day and the sun was making itself well and truly felt. Not so bad when we were moving on the bike but at the site we walked the grounds of the ruins swiftly from shady tree to the next. As these were few and far between we soon became sun weary and headed out in search of lunch. Not to say that the ruins were crap, but really we are not that into ruins. I see ruins in the mirror every morning! And anyway we've seen the best we've been to Siem Reap - brag, brag.

Lunch - we jumped on the bike and rode back to a indoor market we had seen earlier in the morning when I was doing the navigating. There is always a part of every market cooking and selling food so we knew there would be at this one too. Sure enough right at the back we found tables and chairs huddled around little kiosks manned by women tossing foodstuffs around huge woks. Pad thai is always on offer and a safe option when in doubt of what is on the Thai only menu. Via hand signals the noodle soup lady informed us she was out of ingredients, so pad thai it was! Like I said always a safe option and it was ok. Stomachs full we re-mounted the bikes and decided just to go for a ride to no where in particular. The breeze we received on the bike was a much cooler option than just sitting around in the heat.

Heading on a small road out of town we viewed a very large pagoda in the distance. This was very big - looked like the size of Cheops pyramid, (sorry I guess that comparison only works for those of you who have actually seen Cheops pyramid) doh. Anyway, it was very bloody big so we turned in to have a look. Turned out to be a great find, Wat Phu Khao Thong, is off the tourist track - proof being we were the only ones there. At only 10 minutes drive out of town it's a shame this Wat does not get any attention. One of the very few that have been completely restored and obviously maintained - although not real sure where the funds would come from as there was no entrance fee - another rarity. And due to it's size we were actually able to climb up to the top for a view of the surrounding very flat countryside. Perhaps because there is a huge monument to King Nareswan right next door that this Wat is kept under repair, but again, where are the tourists? Maybe 10 minutes out of town is too far to take them.

It was mutually decided we'd all had enough culture for one day and it was time to head back to our hotel for a couple of cold riverside Chang's - which is exactly what we did.

Just before it got dark we jumped on the bikes again and headed back over to the island to find dinner. On our way home earlier we spotted a parking lot that was starting to fill with stalls that looked like the makings of a night market. Sure enough we found it back again but it was a little disappointing in the food department. Although I did eat a really nice crispy mussel omelette, but not completely satisfied we stopped at a roadside stall for a pork & noodle soup with filled the gap.

Back at the hotel I had a shower and went to bed early. Lyn and Patrick stayed up a few hours longer having some quality mother / son time over a few beers.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 07:45 Archived in Thailand Tagged ayutthaya Comments (2)

2013 SEPT THAILAND - STOPOVER IN ASIA

Breaking the trip to Europe, stopping a few days in Thailand and Malaysia.

sunny 30 °C
View 2013 Sept ON THE WAY ASIAN STOPOVER on Cindy Bruin's travel map.

Hello all,

Well, Lyn and I are off on another great adventure.

This is just a warning email, to advise you I will be sending out blogs of our travels. If you do not want to receive these emails please let me know and I will remove you from this email list - or you can just delete the email when you receive it.

We will also be posting photos on Facebook if you are interested, if you are not yet a friend of Lyn's or mine and wish to see the pics just send a friend request and we will accept you.

itinerary:

Firstly we fly to Asia for a quick couple of days stopover before continuing on to Holland to collect some stuff in storage. We then fly to France where we are going to attempt a 120km kayak trip down the Dordogne river and a very long cycle ride from the Atlantic to Med. Travel south through Spain then over Morocco where we fly out of Casablanca mid November! Back to Asia for more adventures but will fill you in on that later.

Cindy & Lyn.

Sunday 1st Sept 2013 (day one)

Up at sparrows fart! Dawn was just cracking as we drove down the coast to Coolangatta airport. Not the best time of the day for me and I was trying very hard not to be grumpy after only a few hours sleep. There always seems to be last minute things to do, so, I'd had a late night.

Made it to the airport in plenty of time to check in, our combined baggage was 30.3kg - we had paid for 30kg so all good there. Big thank you to our lifts to the airport and going away party: Cobi, Lizzy, Miss Robyn and Mitchell. :-)

Our flight departed 10 minutes late and it was a pretty uneventful 7 hours 50 minute duration. Lyn and I both had requested aisle seats and as the plane was not completely full, we also each had a spare seat next to us. I only dozed a little as the woman sitting directly behind me was snoring very loudly - so loudly in fact she could be heard over the incessant drone of the engines mounted on the wing outside the window we were near. OMG was that Lyn sitting behind me?

Singapore: we had a quick 2 hour stopover but due to flying with an el cheapo airline aka scoot! we had to go through immigration, collect our baggage, clear customs, re-check into the next flight, again go through immigration and then find our departure gate. Or the alternative was to pay $20 and all the leg work would be done for us we, would just be able to walk directly from the arrival gate to the departure date. You guessed it we took the cheap option - hey we had been sitting for over 8 hours and needed a brisk walk anyway.

Just a short 2 hour flight from Singapore to Bangkok had us arriving at 7pm local time - wow a long day. As soon as the plane door opened we were slapped in the face with 30+ degree heat and that familiar 'aroma of Asia'.
We caught the airport shuttle to the bus station as my extensive internet research had advised we could get a public bus to the street near the hotel I had pre-booked for the next 2 nights. Of course this information was either all bullshit or the bus had stopped running just this day or for whatever reason they were trying to explain to us the end result was there was no bus. Next alternative was to get a minivan to Monument Square and get another bus to our destination from there. As this was the only option we took it and it was cheap enough at 40baht ($1.40) each plus an extra 40baht for our luggage which took the seat of a person anyway so fair enough. Arriving at the huge roundabout that is the Monument Square our minivan driver pointed us in the direction of the public bus that would continue our journey. He must have read our minds cause he suggested perhaps we should take a taxi from here - assuring us it was not much only about 100 baht ($3.50). Yep that sounded like a great idea and we soon flagged one down who offered to take us for 200 baht ($7.00)- what?? that's like double!! I offered him 150 ($5.20) but he declined so I told him to move on. Seeing our dilemma the bus driver came to our rescue and flagged down a taxi and started loading our luggage telling us this is a good one. When I enquired about the price the taxi driver gave me a rotten toothy grin and pointed to the meter - good. I handed him our hotel reservation so he would know where to go and he hand signalled (this man had very little knowledge of the English language) that he could not read it. He could not read, not due to lack of education, more lack of eyesight! I offered him my pink rimmed glasses which he took with a smile but they proved to be not strong enough so Lyn handed him her stronger lenses and this seemed to do the trick. Off we drove into very heavy traffic but before long our driver had produced a half pair of glasses (just one lens still attached to one arm) and was lowering his head to the dash board trying to see something thru this tiny piece of glass. He looked at me with a worried, panicked look on his face. With limited English all he could do was point at the dashboard and say hot, hot, very hot. Now I guessed he was not talking about me (come on - no one can look hot, hot, very hot after a 10 hour flight) and when I looked at the temp gauge I realised it was the car that was hot, hot, very hot. Luckily we made it to our destination and although we had a bit of a walk through the pedestrian only street we were happy to have made it. The meter read just 71baht ($2.40). We gave him a 100baht and left him with the hot, hot, very hot car.

Finally we made it to the hotel and of course it looked nothing like the pictures on the internet or the pictures displayed outside, but we did not give a toss at this stage. We had arrived! and now it was time to get something to eat. Nothing very exciting for our first meal - bbq & potato Thai style ($5.00) we were happy.

We had a short walk around Khao San Road, we met up with Lyn's son Patrick who is over here in Thailand at the moment on an extended holiday. He also had an long day traveling up by road from Koh Samui.

It was now after 10pm local time which meant it was around 1am Oz time so we were well and truly knackered. Time to crash, literally.

Of course on the way home we had to stop for a half hour foot massage.

What a big day! welcome to Asia.

Cindy & Lyn

Monday 2nd September 2013 (day two)

Had a great sleep on a pretty hard bed, but fabulous pillows!

I thought it was 10.30am when I'd first woken up, obviously my eyes had not yet focused as it was much earlier. I realised this as we had showered and dressed and were on the street looking for breakfast and it was just to turn 9.30. Guess it must have been 8.30 when I first looked at my watch! Not problem as we are not on any time schedule today anyway.

It was hot already and Bangkok was starting to come awake. Dropped of the clothes we wore yesterday to be washed. Crazy not to here, it only costs 25baht (85c) per kilo. There will be plenty of time later in the trip for hand washing.

We found a random place to have breakfast and sat deciding that we might not do anything special today. And just as well we had decided that, as that is exactly what we did - more of the nothing rather than special!

We met up with Patrick again and sat around catching up on what he has been up to. Went for a bit of a walk - checking out alternative hotels for our next stopover in Bangkok. We had pad thai for lunch from a street vendor for 50baht ($1.75) each. A bit of a walk around and before we knew it, it was 4pm and time for a relax back in our air con room.

Surfacing again at about 6pm, it was decided it was time for another foot massage before we had some dinner. Wow this holidaying stuff is just full of huge decisions of what to do when. Feeling relaxed and refreshed we walked a little way down the soi (lane way) and had dinner at one of the many makeshift restaurants. Clams cooked in sweet basil and green mussels filled the spot - never mind that the fried rice came after we had finished eating the shell fish - welcome to Asia where all the components of your meal will not be served to you at once!

Again a quick walk around, we managed to find the place where I stored some luggage last visit and are planning on using them again. We are leaving some stuff here as we only need to take minimal stuff with us to Europe for the bike ride. At 5baht (20c) per day, this seems like a good option for us. So now it was time to go back to the room and sort out what to take and what stays behind. Not a task we were looking forward to, but a necessary one. By the time we finished it was close to 10.30 and after such a hectic day we were ready for bed.

We don't seemed to have done much in the day and 2 nights we have had in Bangkok but this was just a break up stopover. We have been here before and it was just too hot to trot around doing touristy things.

Tomorrow we head just a little north of Bangkok to the city of Ayutthaya.

Cindy & Lyn

Posted by Cindy Bruin 20:37 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (0)

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