When we arrived in Biarritz, we collected our hire car "leon" (it's a Seat Leon). This picture was obviously taken before we hit the road... because Adam's smile didn't really last that long!!
We're contemplating how to tell this part.. whether to explain how it went down at the time.. or how we can look back on it now. Because the two are quite different. Hindsight does that. So here's a bit of both:
What really happened: we collected the car and headed back to Biarritz to look around and find accommodation. Adam was a little nervous. He was driving on the opposite / "wrong" side of the road, was driving a manual (hadn't done it for awhile), and was driving among french motorists who dont indicate (though they do occassionally throw on the hazard lights mid roundabout). Additionally he was driving in Biarritz, a maze of one way streets, ZERO carparking and hills aplenty. If you cant read between the lines.... he stalled it (a few times) and the mood was slightly tense.
My job as GPS ( we thought it'd be more fun NOT to hire one - WTF??) was to (a) navigate, (b) notify adam if he drifted to the parked cars or gutter (c) do both of the above without really talking or making a sound (d) NOT gasp as we head for incoming traffic... and finally (e) run into several hotels and B&Bs to enquire about rooms with my year 9 french skills. The phrase book was in the suitcase so it sort of went like this: bonjour, je voudrais... um... a room? a bed? ummm....tonight.. two people. I mean deux people? S'il vous plais? errr.. do you speak english??
To get on with it.. we circled Biarritz for about 2 hours, no exaggeration. Then we thought 'F*ck this stupid town' - and moved on to the next town, Bayonne. Here, we went through the same thing. The town is split by a river. The side that has parking; has no accom. The side with accom has no parking and looks a little dodgy as the sun starts setting.
By now we are at breaking point. So we head BACK to Biarritz for the hotel that was overpriced but has parking; Grrrrrrrrr!!! We hate this f*cking place!!!
... And then... the travel gods decided to give mercy. We pulled into town as a young girl left. We got a car park - score!!!! We walked into the closest hotel thinking it would be full or expensive. It was neither. Double score!!! It was actually NICE! And right on the beach! Our luck had turned around.
Now the way this appears in hindsight:
We picked up the car and explored the town of beautiful lively town of Biarritz. Once we'd seen enough (since we had time) we headed up the coast to explore a nearby town, which was also lovely, though a little hard to navigate. As the sun set, we returned to Biarritz to settle in to a gorgeous hotel.. and then headed out to see the nightlife and enjoy a cocktail before bed. Ah bliss...
^you see, hindsight really is a beautiful thing.