We arrived in Toulouse late Wednesday night, and Alex had booked a hotel for us to rest for a few hours before heading to the B&B in the morning. After picking up our rental car, we proceeded to look for our hotel. Unfortunately, I had packed the maps he had printed out, so we had to rely on GPS to navigate our way to the hotel. Because of technical glitches with Tripit / iPhone / Google Maps, we ended up in the center of Blagnac. Once we deciphered this snafu, we still couldn't find the hotel. The person who designed the hotel sign must have had a previous career drawing Where's Waldo cartoons because its primary purpose was obviously to confuse and misdirect us. We finally found the place less than a hundred meters from the airport, one hour behind schedule.
While I waited in the car with Aiven, Alex went to scope out the room. It had no air conditioning. Since we hadn't ordered the sauna special, he upgraded us to a luxurious suite where the toilet paper dispenser was the kind you may fondly remember from your high school days. No stealing toilet paper in this classy establishment!
Early the next morning we schlepped out to our B&B, which was near a town called Rouffilhac (off the map) in a village called Mondonnet (what's a map?). Our room wasn't ready yet, so we left our bags and started to drive around aimlessly to enjoy the scenic countryside. Alex and I wondered, silently at first and then to each other, what the big deal was. Ireland and Tuscany were much more beautiful! We traveled through the Dordogne valley and still we weren't very excited by it. Did we have vacation fatigue? Were we on the wrong side of the river? Are we just jaded jetsetters?
We arrived at our B&B to find out we were the only guests for the night. It was a beautiful home except for a couple of things:
1. Neighbors had moved in two days ago with their five dogs who were in a barking match with the B&B owners' two dogs. All day.
2. There was no air conditioning.
3. The owner was a chatty Kathy who kept appearing out of nowhere, ignoring social cues, and talking our ears off.
4. The WiFi was down due to upgrades the telecom was making to the bandwidth.
5. Contrary to what their website said, the B&B was close to NOTHING. It was at least a 20 minute drive to the nearest "town".
6. They weren't very kid friendly. At breakfast in the morning, the owner was picking up pieces of cake as Aiven dropped them.
7. Our fabulous room was right next to the kitchen. The owner came to set up for breakfast at 10 PM and woke Aiven up. He then asked if Aiven was always this difficult when it came to sleep.
After one night, we decided to find someplace else to stay. So off to Cahors we went.
Now, Cahors is not on anyone's radar. Except the French. It is where they go for a vacation in the summer to get away from us nasty tourists. We found an unimpressive hotel that was perfect for us. Aiven wanted to make a mess? No problem. The place was a shit hole to begin with. Dirty diapers smelled up the entire floor? Pas probleme - at least it would cover up the stale stench of cigarettes. And they had free Wifi!
The main street was charming, and we went to the most amazing farmer's market we have ever seen. Later on, we had a picnic with our goodies by the river in St. Cirque de Popie. (Click the picture to see more)
|Farmer's Market, Cahors, France|
For dinner, we found a wonderful little restaurant on an out-of-the-way side street. After the waitress tried to convince Alex that no one can eat just vegetables, the chef cooked him a vegan dinner that was better than what's served in 99% of all vegetarian restaurants. We were the only ones in the restaurant and Aiven charmed the waitstaff until another family arrived, then he charmed them too. After dinner we walked over the town's famous bridge and caught the last light of the sunset. We had the bridge and view to ourselves. It was perfect.
On Sunday, we planned to drive to Toulouse to return the car and then hop on a train to Carcassonne. In Toulouse, we found out we could keep the car until Perpigpan, which is much closer to Barcelona and would eliminate a couple of train rides for us. With our heavy bags, this was a big score. Most importantly, Alex finally admitted I was right when I told him not to buy those train tickets in advance!
We arrived at the hotel and it was lovely. Well, the lobby was lovely. We checked our bags in and went to the old city for a few hours until our room was ready. The old city was kitschy and swarming with tourists, but we ate a great lunch and enjoyed the medieval architecture.
When we got back to the hotel, the elevators were not working, supposedly due to a storm the day before. Huh? Did the dog eat their homework too? The receptionist told us our room was only one floor up, so Alex went to see it and determine how many vertebrae he'd crack hauling a 30 kilo bag there. After a few moments, he came back down with a stupid question: where was the door to the hallway? That was when she explained that the first floor was up TWO flights of stairs. Alex was already annoyed that they wanted to charge us 5 euros an hour for Wifi and hit his breaking point. I think the only other time I've ever seen him be so rude and talk over someone like that was with his mother-in-law.
We felt that we had overstayed our welcome in Carcassone so we drove onward to Narbonne, which is where I am writing this from. Our hotel is quite decent, but it's Sunday and everything was closed. Once again, I just got the feeling that we weren't welcome here. It feels like we've been expelled from city to city, and by now we're more than eager to oblige. We had a few wonderful moments, but excuse my French, I just want to get the hell out of here.
Tomorrow we are going to make our way to Barcelona a day early. We found out that the hotel we booked is full tomorrow night, so we are being forced to book a different hotel for one night. Such a pain in the ass. But my wonderfully creative and resourceful husband thought of using Priceline to splurge on a five-star hotel for a night, and assuming all goes well -- a huge assumption at this point -- this time tomorrow I will be relaxing in a hotel with a pool, bathtub, and room service.
Keep checking back here for a picture of me in a tub of bubbles with wine and food within arm's reach...