Friday, 10 June 2016

Day 2 - Bordeaux

Day 2

Miles travelled - 400

French phrase of the day? Mouvement de greve (Strike Movement) 

Reasonable night sleep followed by a two star breakfast and the old man and I were back on the road by 7.30am. Nice bloke at breakfast with a strong South East English accent said he was also off to Bordeaux. Claimed to have been born in Barry Island - didn't believe him, but great to see people will now say anything to jump on the Bale bandwagon. 

The toll roads over here are superb. 80mph speed limits and no traffic. Stopped off for a great pre booked lunch in a town called Saintes, which was only slightly ruined by the cheese plate not having a Jacobs cracker in sight. I didn't say anything, it's all part of the experience I guess. 

Arrived at decent hotel on the outskirts of Bordeaux - the sight of carpets, soft furnishing and a working shower a welcome step up from last night's lodgings. 

Anyone who has ever travelled with me knows how much I like to plan things out. I spend hours ahead of every single holiday trying to ensure I know where to eat and drink, what to see, how to travel, and to be as well prepared as possible. Basically, squeezing any sense of adventure, surprise and spontaneity out of weekend breaks away and annual family holidays has become my calling card. And I love it. 

So it was that we turned up at the local tram station, exactly as planned, so we could park the car and do the short trip into the heart of Bordeaux. No cars in the car park. And no trams running either. So we went to my Plan B and drove to another nearby tram station again with a car park. Again, no cars or trams. 

A guy nearby, having clearly spotted our number plate, wandered over and said 'Alright mate, never seen a British person around here before'. I asked him if the trams were running to which he replied firmly "No, because the French are a load of wankers. They're on strike". He then explained he was living in France because he was "lumbered" with a French girlfriend (his words not mine). He had one of those 'pint' shirts that typically have a matching 'half pint' t short worn by your child. Clearly this bloke had become trapped in a loveless marriage,  with a child to boot, in a country he hated, and now he couldn't even get a tram for a night away from this domestic nightmare. 

He looked at Dad and I, clearly desperate for us to offer some sage words of advice, or even perhaps to bundle him into the back of our car and take him back to Blighty. We didn't though. He was in his early 40s, smelt a little of alcohol, and to be honest, was a little bit odd, so we drove quickly off. 

Eventually we got into Bordeaux, driving past the Charles Dickens pub packed with red shirts and headed into the fan park to watch the opening game. 

Since Folkestone, the odd Welsh fan here and there has turned into cars and minibuses full of them on the roads leading here, then into dozens in the bars and finally in the fan park hundreds if not thousands of us. Brilliant to see. 

Listened to the French fans sing the national anthem - Le marseillaise is something to behold live, behind the Italian one only as my favourite other anthem, and it's finally sinking in now that tomorrow, the waiting is over. Hairs on the back of your neck time.

Decent second half, and a great winning goal for the French. Let's hope our boys can strike one like that tomorrow.

Back to the hotel for a Stella, and now for some sleep. It's going to be a long day tomorrow. 

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