Friday, 7 September 2012

A little retrospective, but....

Holiday blog (wot – anuvver?).

Oh the joy of rising at 3.30am!

What time should we get up? Well, lets work this backwards. The flight leaves at 8.10am and gate closes at 7.45. We have bags to check and want to try to get decent seats (this is easyjet, with it’s free-for-all, but old habits die hard) so need to be there 2 hours before departure. So meet & greet (these days no more expensive than long term onsite parking) is arranged at 6am. Gatport Airwick (thanks Jeremy) is about 85 miles away, so allow around 1hr45 – 2 hours travel time in the small hours (3 hours during the day). We want a shower before departing, so allow 15min each, plus 15min to assemble everything and pop it in the car, check it all off etc.

So the alarm went off at 3.30am and we were on the road around 4.15am, arriving about 5.45am for a better than expected journey. Great.

Then the plane was delayed 30min waiting for ‘paperwork’ to arrive. easyjet are slipping.

I’d slept around 30-50min the previous night, and manage a few mins on the plane too, but the flight time was only about 75min total, which again was great (and it was a real sardine special, so a short flight was an even bigger bonus). We went straight from the plane to dragging luggage round Bordeaux Merignac airport while hunting down the car hire desk.

Bordeaux to Biarritz/Bayonne was a shorter journey than I remember it, at around 200km-ish, though we had started off fairly well south of Bordeaux already. On the 2 previous occasions we’d done it I seem to remember getting to Bordeaux around 4am (one year we had a 90mph blow out just before reaching the ring road!). The Gironde estuary is enormously wide, and the main road crossed over on a huge suspension bridge with spectacular views. Once past the city the road then became dual carriageway, threading through pine forests and sandy excavations until just before Bayonne and the peage, when it would open out to reveal housing that was more Spanish than French and industrial units etc. We would arrive at the camp site around 7.30-8am.

(Note - a couple of days after arriving we did this final section of the journey in reverse. To my shock it took almost an hour to get back to the place where we turned off, confirming my memory wasn’t far out after all.)

The apartment is located in Port d’Albret, Vieux Bocau (old Bocau) that are having been a quiet fishing village before being developed heavily for French tourism. There is a large marine lake (I want to write marin lac) surrounded by apartment blocks and complexes that look like they were built in the 80s and early 90s, so around 20-30 years old, mostly in decent condition and refurbished some time in the last 10 years, some manky on the outside.

Our map of France (a large volume) didn’t have enough detail of the actual town, and even the map I’d printed courtesy of google wasn’t really cutting it – Port d’Albret is a network of small, often one-way streets, named using tiny signs and full of similar looking accommodation. At first we couldn’t make head or tail of where we were, and since check in for weekly stays was after 5pm (!) we parked up and wandered a little (just round the corner as it happened). Come the time we drove round a couple of times before finding a sign to our apartments and squeezed into the carpark of le Boucanier (well buckle my swash etc).

First impressions are the ones that last: the check in process made me think that this was Butlins a la Francais, but the girl on reception was so nice and so enthusiastic in a genuine way that we were pleased to be here. The apartment itself was, as the lass on reception described it, really nice. 2 balconies (1 in sun, 1 in shade pretty much all the time) spacious, clean and even with separate loo and bathroom.

We were really tired after our journey and the last few weeks of having so much happening, so didn’t really want to do much. There was however a large market going on in the main town, and after dinner we wandered round, more than a little dazed, marvelling at the prices (so high) and the sheer quantity of stuff being sold.

Bed was welcome.

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