Sunday, 21 November 2010

September 23rd - St Malo in the rain

We broke camp early, and it took Darren and Shad 30 minutes to realise I was clean shaven. Naturally I received some verbal abuse for breaking rule 2 "No shaving", but it was good natured, and short lived.

Shad had arranged a lunch stop-over just short of Nantes, at his brothers house, so we pointed our bikes towards Niort, and hit the back roads.
After having ridden some spectacular roads these past few weeks, enjoyed some gorgeous weather, and been humbled by great scenery, I found the route drab, and uninspiring. The roads were very much like ours back home, as were the dull, overcast skies. I was sad that our journey was coming to a close, but equally glad I was edging closer to home.

We made Stuarts house by 12, and were warmly welcomed with food, drink, and good company. I had once again, been feeling drowsy on the bike, so
it was a chance to catch a few hours rest, and decide what to do from here.

St Malo lay about 3 hours ride to the West. The option was to stay over with our hosts, or ride on to the port, and be fresh for the ferry in the morning.
In the meantime, we hear that Alan is in France, and is riding hard to rendezvous here at Stuarts place.

Shad decides to stay with Stuart, and catch up on several years of missed contact, and wait for Alan.
I decide to camp till the bitter end, and plan to head for St Malo, recce the ferry terminal, then go and find a campsite, and a hot meal somewhere in town.
Darren opts to ride with me through to the port, so we bid our hosts adieu, accept several bottles of wine from Stuart as a gift, and leave Shad to reminisce, while he waits for the determined Alan to catch up.

We left Stuarts at 3pm, and pretty much stuck to the N137 through to Nantes, Rennes, and St Malo, so that we weren't rushed looking for digs for the night.
Fuel stops, port side of Rennes were few and far between on the motorway, so much so that after driving on the warning light for what seemed like ages, I claimed 252 miles to a tank before thankfully replenishing stocks.

We hit St Malo at rush hour, and as the heavens opened, we pulled into a parking lot behind a hotel, and took shelter under a tree while we discussed a battle plan.

First things first, find the ferry terminal, get our bearings, then find a campsite.
We found a great municipal site, about a mile from the terminal, and after scouting the area for anything else, we settled down, and pitched tents in the rain.
The site office was closed, and by the look of the noticeboard, would only be open at 9am, we'd be long gone then.

Tents up, gear stowed and locked up, Darren and Myself headed off to the quayside to recce a group of restaurants we'd spotted earlier. We settled on a small seafront one, "La Cale", on Quai Solidor, attracted by the appealing look of steak on a patrons plate, that we had spied through the window.
The hostess and owner was a charming, and resembled a French Zoe Wannamaker. Her English was good, her sense of humour better, and her food, wonderful. We had a huge plate of ribs, with two tankards of beer each, and some homemade ice cream.

We sat and toasted ourselves on the successful completion of our adventure, having at this stage ridden 4040 miles, and raising a glass to not having to be up at 5am in Nantes to be at the port for 9.
We head back to the campsite, and our tents, and turn in for the night, my last night on the thermarest in the tent. It was all a little moving really, during these past three weeks, there had been this little ritual of a cup of tea and a smoke before zipping the tent up, and now this was to be the end of the ritual... all a little sad really.

Never mind, Good Night.

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