Sunday, September 4, 2011
Amboise 30th August 2011
We made it to France and we're currently in the salubrious confines of the Amboise Ibis Hotel, using free Wi-fi (pronounced "wee fee" here).
Plane trip was hell, as per usual. The first let to Hong Kong went well enough. Cathay Pacific's seats are shell-backs and they're pretty thin in the cushion department but we bought our own foam padding so all was well there. Cathay's food is very ordinary and the attendants don't smile much. HK immigration lines are very long but the Chinese government make sure you get a TV that plays pro-HK-airport propaganda while you wait so we felt so much better about the efficiency of the 2 blokes processing 400 people.
We didn't see very much of HK at all thanks to a massive smog problem, made worse by 35 degree heat. If we wanted we could have taken a cable car up into the smog to see it from the top of the alleged mountain. Opted instead for the swimming pool and steam room.
Second leg, 14 hours to Paris, pretty painful. And Charles De Gaulle airport is the armpit of the world. Terminal 2A, where we landed, was about as far away from our hotel as it could be. We walked for miles, in some places fearing we might be mugged, through the dirty, chaotic, badly signed halls. I'm not sure why the French have such a crap airport but they've almost made an art of it.
Today we have jetlag, though not as bad as it could be thanks to melatonin pills bought in HK. It helps to reset your sleep patterns. You can't get it in Australia because... um... well, same reason we have to wear bike helmets here and have our movies censored for us. Because we're sooks.
Today we successfully picked up our hire car - a Peugot 206, upgrade! - and made it out of Paris without getting too lost. On the way we thought we'd have lunch at Chambord. Probably a bad idea, it's pretty touristy, but it was nice to see the chateau again. Also went and looked for wildlife but it was midday so the wild boars and deer were all closed for lunch. Best we saw were pretty blue finches, a lizard and some mysterious blue berries. Lots of evidence of boars digging up the acorns, though. In the mood for some venison or boar for dinner, a la Asterix, scrunch scrunch scrunch.
People on bikes are everywhere in the Loire. Happily cycling down the road, no helmets. We passed an old bloke with his walking stick strapped across the bike rack, tootling along on the main road, happy as a clam. Strangely we were able to pass him without beeping our horn, throwing bottles or yelling abuse. Imagine that.
The river Loire is lovely, slow and flat. There are lots of little tracks down to the edge so you can easily sit beside it or fish, no problems. I am looking forward to coming back here and cycling this area in a few years. For now we'll make do with the car. Our cycle tour doesn't come this far north.
Now we're in Amboise. It's 6pm and still light outside. The weather has been very nice today, sunny, about 26 degrees - Gympie winter. Wondering if we should head into town or just crash and start afresh tomorrow.
As expected, Luke has a cold. I guess I'll be getting it next. Hopefully we can be reasonably well before the cycling starts on Saturday.