And so the day I’d been dreading finally arrived. Ever since leaving the tangle of streets that is Nice airport terminal 2 car rentals, I have been in fear of the reverse. Okay, I’ve relaxed a lot and enjoyed myself but somewhere buried deep but accessible in the back of my mind has been the speck of horror that is the return. I know there’s signs because I saw them when we left but that doesn’t help. What also doesn’t help is not having a proper satnav location. I had to send Celine to her home and hope for the best. Linda was acting as wingman for Celine because she refused to talk to us.
It’s one of those things that heralds the end of a holiday (normally) when you have to return the car then spend another day (or two) before leaving completely. It’s quite easy keeping up with the days when it’s only a couple of weeks. However it’s not always the case.
Of course, when you’re on holiday, sometimes the days get a bit mixed up. You might think it’s Monday when, in fact, it’s Wednesday. And so it should be. The thing is, holidays should make you forget the humdrum day to day sloggery of the weekday routine. There is a point, though, where you need to keep a bit of a handle on what day it is.
For instance, the Sussex couple I met yesterday and re-aquainted myself with this morning turned up at the B&B a week early. Alright, they’ve been on holiday since April but even so. A week out? Mark (of the B&B) told us this morning and we were aghast. He only has so many bedrooms but managed to squeeze them in. Even so, they did look a bit sheepish this morning.
As for us, we took our time getting ourselves organised before checking out, saying goodbye and paying the balance of our account. The trouble was I forgot that we needed to pay in cash. We ended up scraping together Euros and pounds but we did feel rather stupid. It has been such a lovely three days and this almost spoiled it. Not that Mark or Berniece thought it was much of a problem and I did offer to just pay it directly into their bank there and then. Still…
Anyway, we finally said farewell to Mark and Berniece and, of course, Niagara…
…and headed out of the roughly rutted awful driveway for the very last time.
Rather than head straight for Nice, we decided to take Mark’s advice and head up to the Cedar forest for a look see from the lookouts. I’m really glad we did because the views from up there are simply brilliant. The whole of the Luberon seems to be stretched out before you like so much decoration on a cake. It is splendid.
There was, of course, more of the very narrow roads tense driving as we drove down through the hills. As much as I like the French, French drivers are really appalling. They drive far too fast and get really impatient with people who don’t have the same death wish as they do. They drive far too close to you and blow their horns with all the aggression that they can muster. How do they think that works? All it does is make everyone more tense. They really should learn to drive a little less like they believe in a life after death.
Despite the dickheads on the road, we successfully made it to the wonderful little village of Lourmarin where we parked up then took a wander, eventually settling down in a roadside bar for some refreshment. The welcome from the statue at the beginning of the village was an interesting inducement.
It was in this tiny village that I found the most amazing hat shop. I’ve been wanting a new Panama hat since my old one fell to bits and I spotted the very convenient hat shop in this village. I went in on the way back to the car and accidentally purchased a quite expensive yellow one.
However, it wasn’t so much the cost that was so surprising. No, it was the fact that this tiny village not only had a hat shop but that it had a specialist Panama hat shop. That’s right. The shop ONLY sold Panama hats. Truly odd.
Once more hatted, we climbed into Celine and headed out. From here it was just a long, monotonous trip to Nice, mostly following the A8 motorway for almost 200 kilometres. Then, finally, the big test. The final stretch to the car return.
Would you believe it, it was super easy. Using both satnavs and the visual clues, it was ridiculously simple and made me realise that worrying about it all holiday was a complete and utter waste of time.
So, we said goodbye to Celine and headed into Nice to our gay-friendly Windsor Hotel (“A lovely hotel,” said our taxi driver). Then, after the briefest of rests, we headed out into Nice.
I’m going to write more about Nice tomorrow but it’s quite an odd place. Where one expects golden sandy beaches, there is nothing but stones. Where one expects the beautiful people, there’s just a huge conglomeration of tourists. As I said, it’s an odd place where people seem to be there to be seen and pay stupid money to sit on a sun lounger on the stony beach.
It’s all very strange…but great to gawp at as we did.
Later, we had seafood for dinner. It was possibly our least favourite meal of the trip so far. At least we didn’t have the giant seafood platter that this little German girl had.
It was then back to the hotel to sleep ahead of our sightseeing of Nice on the morrow.