Reality Sinks In



Was it when I saw the road kill?  or later?  much later?  I’m not sure as it was a day of differences in France.

Before starting out to explore the Mediterranean, we fortified ourselves with poached apricots, croissants, bread, cantaloupe, coffee etc.  Our hosts had written down some places we might want to take in… along with a verbal narrative.  So sally forth we did.  Surrounded by vineyards we felt like we were in our own element.  I was driving.  Ray rode shotgun armed with the maps.  We had a swimmingly good time until we went into a village and noticed the very long line of traffic lined up trying to go the direction we were coming from.  Always in the mode of avoiding  traffic jams, I turned this way and that way and before you could say Jack Robinson, we were on a road that was unmarked and…we were the only ones on it!!  Did it end badly?  Not at all.  It was the only miracle of the day, however.

We drove from Thorny Brassieres  to Brassieres (Besiers).  Besiers is the city with a lot of one way, narrow streets.  After the grand search for a place to park to visit the tourist info bureau, we found underground parking.  I’m surprised they don’t require you to have sunroofs here on all vehicles for easy access.  Because they park so close, its is almost impossible to squeeze in and out of a car.  It would be easier to climb thru a roof.  When we emerged from the garage, we didn’t know where we were.  We walked around a park that was being set up with games, amusement rides (for instance, we exited the garage by the bumper cars).  I looked at Ray and said, “where are we going?”.  He said, “back to the car”.  We  did go back.  Cheapest parking yet!!

We then visited a lock system in the city of Brassieres  which sits on the Orb river.  There were 7 locks but the official name said neuf (nine).  A mystery.  Anyway, it was great…all kinds of people there watching the boats go down the river via the locks.  We have movies but I’ll spare you.  Our friends Al and Charlie told us not to go to Brasseries.   They warned that we would never find our way out.  Well, no problemo.  Did take a few pictures.  Things you never see on a tour bus.

No CC&R’s here.  Le chat (cat) and clothes drying.

We left there and took backroads along the ocean to Sete (pronounced seat).  Stopped on the way for liquid refreshment but that was uneventful.  Sete was very pretty and difficult.  Several things happened there.  We witnessed our first french petanque game!!  above left.  And we spent an hour finding part of their port.  The only way we even knew they had a port, aside from being told, is that we saw postcards of it while we were wandering around aimlessly in another part of Sete.  So we persevered.

Heading out of Sete our luck ran out.  Hit a traffic jam on a frontage road that ran along the ocean and were stuck there for quite some time as everyone in France decided to go to the beach that day and leave simultaneously in the same direction which,  just so happened, to be the way we were going.  After escaping that plug up, we wandered into a small town with a very small port and had dinner at a cafe.  Photos below were taken while still happy.

We left the cafe and headed back to Thorny Brassieres.  It was dark.  Have I mentioned yet that France doesn’t use much street lighting?  All their quaint little signs are very hard to read even with the sun on.  At night they are impossible.  You know where this is going.  Oh, and moi left her regular lunettes (glasses) back at Le Presbytere (name of our B&B).  Well, figuring we would get home before dark, Ray volunteered to the be the designated driver which left me as co-pilot.  So, a tipsy co-pilot, an excitable driver on dark roads…and no moon whatsoever.

I’m not sure if it was the first time around Brasier or the second but the wheels came off, and I don’t mean the car’s.  Sparing the casual reader the details, we finally decided singing would be better than “that other thing” so Ray picked the tune.  It was Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.   Uhm.

When one has the sun, at least you know east from west.  Ray was convinced Thorny was one way.  I was convinced it was another.  So we did a loop or two before finding the A9 freeway.  Oh, another interesting point.  Each road in France has about three different designations (read numbers).  And the road signs often list a city two hundred miles away, say Paris, when you need to know how far the next town is.  Pour that in a shaker and out comes confusion and bewilderment.  But I digress.

Having found A9 we then commenced to sounding like dueling church bells.  So, we headed the way I was sure was right.  We were looking for exit A36.  Well, we found exit 37 so I was vindicated…until we reached the toll booth and discovered we had been heading in the wrong direction.  Apologizing profusely, we retraced our path and discovered that we had entered A9 at the A36 on ramp.  OMG.  If we had just not jumped on the freeway, we would have tripped over Thorny Brassieres.  So 6  euros and 40 minutes later we were where we were looking for.

And that wasn’t all.  In our freeway driving back to Thorny, we stopped to observe two wrecks that shut down the freeway to one lane.  And people were still leaving that beach apparently at 11 p.m. at night.  Bottomline.  It took us 2 1/2  hours to go approximately 40 miles.  If you subtract the back and forth (I was so wrong) miles, it was probably 20 miles.  Guesstimates of course.

We arrived at Le Presbytere, apologized profusely, and threw ourselves into bed.  We needed to get right to sleep because we knew the dinging and donging would start at 7.

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