Less than enjoyable today, but can’t blame the weather, or the countryside. Self-inflicted pain unfortunately. Last night we went out to eat as usual, but being Saturday night we thought we’d allow ourselves an extra drink or two. We found a little Italian restaurant down a back street, or it could have been the main drag, I couldn’t be sure, as Nevers seems a very disjointed place. Restaurants and bars scattered here and there, but no real focal point, at least not that we could find. Mind you, time was getting on by the time we arrived, and so we were concerned that places might stop serving. We had a quick wander around and discovered some really beautiful old buildings which we snapped in the fading sunshine, then plumped for the Italian, as Jones had a hankering for pasta. Plenty of other choices on the menu for me, so job done.
The service was typical – curt and only vaguely friendly. Ok, so neither of us has a strong command for the French language, but we are paying customers! We weren’t that awkward and they were hardly run off their feet. Anyway, a good big salad for a started, and I’d ordered beef fillet ala ‘Michele’. The menu stated that all meat courses came with beans, pasta or potatoes. I think I was meant to make a choice, but neglected to do so when ordering, so it came with pasta, which I’m not eating. I’m still dealing with the consequences of some bread with the charcuterie the other night, so didn’t want to risk it. Anyway, the meat was fine and by the time I’d had a banana split for pud, I felt suitably sated. It just annoys me that you have to try and extract food out of people who are supposed to be providing a service. Cheer up for cripes sake!
So moving on, the hotel receptionist had recommended a bar across the road from the hotel as a lively place to go, and so off we toddled. Indeed it was lively, but not exactly busy, loud music with no particular theme being the defining feature. There were 3 thirtyish girls at the bar who were obviously aiming to paint the town red, and a group of local lads who looked like they all might have been extras in Night of the Living Dead. Far too many pronounced brows if you know what I mean. Anyway, they were keeping the girls ‘entertained’ by demonstrating their ability to drink shots – vodka and tonic in a shot glass, slammed on the counter to make it fizz and then down the hatch. I lost count. They probably did too, along with quite a few brain cells, which were probably already in short supply. The girls seemed more interested with the barman, a bit of a character styled on Steve Harris from Iron Maiden. Anyway, this was our entertainment for the evening, people watching from the end of the bar whilst we supped on a Belgian Trappist brew called Grimbergen. Tasted lovely, but turned out to have been named by the same person who put the Grim in Grimsby, and probably had something to do with the naming of Scunthorpe as well. It didn’t seem very strong, but by heck did it give me a headache this morning.
So I’ve had to endure a fuzzy head all day, it only clearing about 4pm. I tried some pills which helped a little bit, and drunk enough water to fill up the Loire (which in part I probably did as the day went on, via other means). The solution in the end appeared to be some hydration tablets which I had in reserve for the water bottles, it seemed to go not long after starting on those. Will remember that for the morning after the night before in future.
On leaving Nevers, we decided to shortcut the route, as it goes a funny way around the town, so headed off to meet it on its return to the east. All well and good, following more canal again now, with the Loire popping here and there on the route. This afternoon, we were reminded that we are now in Burgundy by the appearance of rolling hills, and the need to cycle up and down them. Not particularly steep, but a pain when carrying luggage. Or the remnants of a hangover.
We found a couple of delightful towns along the route, and ultimately decided to stop in Bourbon-Lancy for the evening. Again we were joined by a local cyclist (father and son) duo, who navigated us through the town to it’s medieval centre and a hotel. Unfortunately the hotel was full, but we were then redirected to a hotel by the sporting lake. A bit Travelodge, but clean and modern, and a lovely little terrace to sit on and look out over the lake. Alas it’s now started raining, so we’ll probably get wet walking back into town to find food. At last I’m finding the time to write this before dinner rather than after, so looking forward to an earlier night tonight!
One thing that I must find that answer to, is where are all the French people? You go though most towns and it’s like some alien abduction has taken place. There is evidence of recent life, like cycles leaning against fences or garages, windows open, occasional TV or radio noise, but no actual humans. This often seems to be the case at any time of day. Someone, fill me in on what is going on?
I hope you are enjoying the daily diary of the trip, I’m led to believe that one or two of my friends and family are following along, so feel free to leave a comment. It would be lovely to hear from you, you all seem so far away at the moment!
A couple of comments suggest that some are finding it difficult to see the photos. If you click on the red pins on the map, you will see the photo taken at that point pop up. You may need to zoom in (the little plus and minus signs top left) and reposition the map to reveal where several photos have been taken close together. If that doesn’t work for you, click on the link below the map (to view the ‘full interactive map’), and then below the map that appears, there is a link to ‘all pictures for this trip’. That gives you a simpler thumbnail view of the images.
One thing that is proving challenging for us, given the time we have to sightsee, is knowing where to stop and explore. Our official Eurovelo 6 map is not very detailed, and only has little symbols to indicate places of interest, but doesn’t tell you for example if the place is of much architectural interest, or just a pleasant and picturesque place. As a result, we are stumbling across things more by luck than judgement (which is of course one of the pleasures). I’ve tried TripAdvisor on the iPhone, but it’s really limited to commercial places of interest such as restaurants, hotels or sports facilities, than more tourist orientated activities. We could do with something that gives a simple overview of a place, as to whether it’s worth stopping for. A ‘go here for the view, etc’ type app. Wikipedia is useful but limited in detail for many smaller places. A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy on the iPhone is what I’m after. If anyone has a recommendation, let me know.
Ahh, and before I forget (not that Jones is going to let me) I did realise today that my performance in the saddle was not quite up to par. I realised this because I’ve seen more of Jones’ rear end today than I have in a good few days (no need for smutty quips thank you). That must have meant I was drafting him for a change. Of course granted that he is at an age disadvantage (or advantage depending on how you look at it) but then he has far more experience than me in this biking lark. As long as one of us is paying attention to where bars and cafÃ©s are, we will prevail!
Miles Covered Today: 53
Milestones Achieved: 700 miles and counting.
Executive Summary: Avoid drinking or eating anything with Grim in the title. Places with drinks in the title on the other hand are probably worth visiting.