Saturday, July 05, 2008

3rd July – Perpignon. Non!

This morning I decided to check with Brittany Ferries to ensure that my driving licence and a Gendarme Report of my lost passport would be sufficient documentation to board the ferry from France to Britain next week. They told me that it wasn’t and that I had to go to the Irish Embassy in Paris to get another one, otherwise no entry to Britain! I called the Embassy and they confirmed that I needed an emergency travel document – the best way to do this was to go to the Irish Consulate in Cherbourg, which at least is close to my departure point in Caen but that does not open on Sundays (day of travel). All very helpful, and they gave me lots of names and numbers to contact.

After above worries I called Macadam Moto in Montpelier to see how they were getting on with my bike. They hadn’t looked at it yet and they were “very busy” (I was told this about 20 times in my short call with them). So more worries – it could be next week before they even look at it! Could my day get worse? Read on!

We decided to go to the city of Perpignon for the day to see some sights and do some shopping. Perpignon is the last French city in this region before entering Spain and there was a lot of Spanish (Catalan) influence everywhere. For a start the signs were bi-lingual, and there were also a lot of red and yellow striped flags about. While the city was only about 40 minutes away and easy to get to – my problems started on our arrival. While there are a lot of car parks available, they were all full, so I drove around for a bit looking for a space. I was not having much luck and after about 30 minutes I decided to drop the girls off near Galleries Lafayette and I would look for a space myself. One hour later I was still driving around looking for a spot – this wasn’t much fun, I had been at every car park in the city centre but all were “Complet”. It seemed that there were also a lot of other people driving around slowly like me looking for a space. In the end I decided to park at a Castorama DIY superstore car park on the edge of the city to at least stop. It was after lunch and I needed to get a cold drink and go to the loo. I killed an hour looking around Castorama and other hardware and clothes shops, but bought nothing. There’s lots of value to be had (70% off sales everywhere), but I have practically no capacity to bring anything back home on the bike - that’s if I ever see my bike again :-(.

It was now just after 3.00 pm and I decided to try my luck again at finding a parking space – at 4.15pm I finally got a spot. By the time I met with Roma and the girls it was 3.5 hours since I had dropped them off. They had spent a lot of that time looking for something to eat and were a bit fed up with Perpignon too. We stopped for some gateaux and I had a nice peach melba. It seems a lot of places close in the early afternoon. We still had a look around and the girls bought a few clothes in some shops. It’s always interesting looking around shops in other countries, but I don’t like to spend too long doing this – it’s boring! Finally, we left Perpignon at about 6.30 and I was more than happy to leave. Lesson learned – go early to get a parking spot.

We stopped off in Leucate Port on the way back – this is a purpose built holiday resort with lots of small shops. We had a good look around and I had a very welcome beer. We plan to come back tomorrow to go on a sailing yacht.

After such a long tiring day it was no surprise that the girls were not too bothered about going out. Roma and I walked down to Sigean for a meal in a quiet friendly Spanish restaurant -Le Galicien. We had a beautiful meal – I had a delicious fish whose name I did not recognise. When we had a second bottle of wine (naughty – but we are on holiday!) the waiter offered us a third on the house which we brought back to the villa. Now where else would you get that?

A delicious dinner with a pretty girl and a free bottle of wine – not a bad day after all!

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