George Johnston: May 13th – Bordeaux

I arrived in Bordeaux and went straight to my hotel, The F1.  It was rather unusual.  The room had double bed with a single over it for a family of three.  There was a rack of hangers under the ladder since there were no drawers.  There was a wash basin, but single showers and toilets were around the corner on the main hall.  It was comfortable enough and worked out well though.  The Buffalo Grill was next door, similar to a Longhorn Steakhouse.  They had an old western windmill replicate and a Totem pole which didn’t quite match the atmosphere.  The food was good with the Haricot Vertes – green beans being better than most served in the US.  In England it seemed that green peas were usually the only green option.  I decided to got Biarritz the next night and the only cheap regional train left at 6:45 in the evening, so  I had the whole day to look around Bordeaux.  It has some wonderful statues, and a great promenade along the Garonne River.  The weather was sunny in the 60’s which was by far the best I had seen on the trip.  There were people strolling, jogging, cycling, sunning and picnicing in the park along the prominade.One area had rows of rose buses between the relaxing areas.  I got lunch at a Doner Kebap fast food place for five euros include the kebap, fries, and can of Fanta Lemon.  The drink alone cost that in most of the cafes in the main squares or near the station.  

The station was large with about 8 platforms and 16 tracks.  They covered quite a distance between 13 tracks on the main lines and three more at the end of the station.  The was only one lift down to the passage to the platform from the terminal and only the first few platforms had lifts up.  You had to carry baggage or bikes upstairs to the others.  I was worried that the train would be crowded and there might not be room for the bike if I didn’t get to it quickly.  When they finally announced it, it was on track one fight in front of the station doors with no lifts required.  I got on quickly, so  I didn’t have a problem, but it was pretty crowded by departure.  It emptied out as we got farther from Bordeaux, with most people off by Bayonne where there was a connecting line o Toulouse.  Biarritz was just on stop after that and about three before the Spanish border.  My hotel was only I mile from the station, so though we arrived at 8:45 there was still plenty of daylight.

The hotel had self service check in which I hadn’t used before.  I call the hotel number, and no one answered, but shortly someone came out and showed me what to do. The machine took your name or reservation number, took your credit card and printed a printed strip key.  One of the hostels had used them.  When you leave you don’t even need to check out or return they key.  I spent much of today working on my Facebook album of the trip, but only got through about half of the British Museum.  It will take several rest days to catch up.  I biked into the center and to the beach at lunchtime.  The temperature was around 60, but the wind was strong and it wasn’t nearly as pleasant as Bordeaux.The city is on a hill or combination of hills over there beach.  There was some interesting architecture, but the beach din’t look particularly good.  The cafes all looked expensive, so I went to a Carrefour Market and got food for lunch and dinner and came back to the hotel.  

Tomorrow I’ll bike to Hendaya on the border, a ride of an hour or two.  There is a bus to Bilbao, Spain in the afternoon operated by the French rail company, since the Spanish trains and national buses aren’t running to the border.  I should arrive in Balboa around 7:00 pm and have a hostel reserved.  I’ll probably take a long range Flixbus to Porto, Portugal overnight on Wednesday.

The travel options are getting more complicated, but there always seems to be some way to work it out.

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