The Driving Nightmare

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

After a number of big days and long nights we chose to sleep in a bit and not leave too early, and hopefully miss the peak hour traffic. So we left at about 9 in the morning headed for Bordeaux in the south west of France. I pulled out of our hotel and came to the first intersection, nothing coming so I pulled out... on the wrong side of the road!!! The next thing I know Mandy's shouting "Get right, Get right" and a cars coming straight at us. No worries, I was just seeing if Mandy was awake.

So off we went down the 4 lane motorway. The very first off ramp the signs said nothing that we recognised as the right direction, until we had passed the turn off and looked up to the sign at the top of the exit that read....Bordeaux,right. Good start! That was the last sign that said Bordeaux for another 5 hours. We spent the next 3 hours hopelessly lost, not actually in Paris, but caught up in the traffic around Paris. The main problem was that our wide area map lacked detail, namely almost every road, and our detailed map only covered Paris centre and we sure as hell didn't want to go there!!!

We headed in the direction of Versailles and actually found the right road to take us south, but then I took the turnoff for Paris instead of the one we wanted (they were only 50 metres apart) and we ended up back in the traffic of Versailles again and had to go around the same streets again. We eventually found ourselves back at the same exits again and after baulking Mandy that I was going down the Paris one again I managed to take the right exit. The trip from Paris to Bordeaux supposedly should take about 6 - 7 hours, so finally we were starting to make some progress. We drove on for a couple of hours but made slow progress because we were staying away from the toll roads and the secondary roads went through every town meaning constantly changing speed limits.

We needed to make some ground up so we jumped on the tollway from Tours and covered 150 kms in just 90 minutes, we had no idea what the cost of the tolls would be, we were thinking maybe 5 euros, nah 16 euros!!! (A$26). We don't travel on motorways anymore!!! We finally made it to Bordeaux at about 8.30 pm. We had a few stops on the way, we had to buy some more camping stuff and some food, but we had a dead set shocker. And the fun wasn't over yet...

We had come across a number of budget hotel chains that have cheap clean rooms, some with internet for about 40 euros, so we thought we'd just rock up to one of them, check in, and forget the day we had just had. For reasons that still escape us, absolutely every one of them was chocker block full. Mandy ran into every one of them, maybe 15 of them scattered around the outer edge of the city. We had almost given up and were resigned to the fact we would be sleeping in the front seats when one place had a room. A chain called Camponile, had a room for 70 euros, we'll take it.

So finally at about 11.30, after being lost in Paris for 3 hours, driving for 3 hours around Bordeaux looking for somewhere to stay and some 14 and a half hours after we left Paris we had made it. What a great start to our European road trip.

There was one piece of fun this day, As we drove into the town centre of Bordeaux, Mandy looked at all the old discoloured buildings and chipped in with "Looks like it needs a Gerni." I don't know if was the fact we hadn't eaten for 8 hours or the 11 hours of driving was taking it's toll but we just lost it in fits of hysterical laughter.
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