”Train-Shame”

I left my Irish cycling companions at the campsite in Bordeaux and headed out of the city. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with those guys, but it was time to continue my own journey.

And so I began to head south. I didn’t actually make it that far before something I call ‘train-shame’ kicked in. I had skipped roughly 200 kilometres (120 miles) by taking the train from La Rochelle to Bordeaux, and I wanted to be able to say that I cycled all the way to Portugal… As a treatment for my ‘train-shame’ I convinced myself that If I turned around and rode north until I had covered the distance I skipped, then I wouldn’t be cheating…

And so I began to head north. I didn’t actually make it that far before something I call ‘night-time’ kicked in. I hadn’t left the campsite in Bordeaux until gone 3:00 p.m. Pair that with cycling 90 minutes south and 90 minutes back north, I hadn’t really covered much ground before the evening sun began burning the clouds orange.

Roughly 30 KM north of Bordeaux I called it quits and stopped at a campsite. Immediately upon arrival, before I even set my bike down, I was greeted by two Irish couples who had just prepared their dinner. Remaining true to Irish hospitality, they wouldn’t accept no for an answer and pulled me up a chair. I only remember two of the four names; I remember Theresa for her constant supply of cous-cous and I remember paddy for his constant supply of beer, which is probably why I forgot the other two names.

As the sky darkened to make way for the light of the full moon, I left the comfort of the Irish hospitality to pitch my tent. I was either unlucky or clumsy, because I managed to snap a three week old tent pole in the process… A sloppy but quick fix with duct-tape helped my tent to stay habitable.

It was getting late, probably around 10 p.m, and I had thoughts of calling it a night. My brief thoughts of slumber were swiftly put to bed as Paddy shouted to me that we were going to the pub. I appreciated the fact he didn’t ask. The pub in question was a short cycle away and we stayed until last orders. The cycle home seemed a lot longer and a lot wobblier than the ride there, and the ride there was pretty wobbly! Paddy, Theresa and the gang were nothing short of hilarious. Which reminds me – ask for contact information! You may never talk to these people again, but if you’re like me and get all nostalgic when you reminisce then its great to have the option to.

We stumbled into the campsite around midnight, but my fun didn’t end there.

Some guys from New Zealand were camped opposite me, they were touring Europe in a beat up old transit van and I ended up partying with them until gone 03:00 a.m… I think. What a night.

It’s safe to say I was not feeling very clever in the morning. Theresa made sure I didn’t leave the campsite without eating and having at least two cups of tea. What great people.

I managed a grand total of 35 minutes cycling before my hangover won the battle. I stopped at the very next campsite and nursed my hangover with a shower, some unhealthy food and a whole bunch of sitting down. The place I had stopped, somewhere near Bourg, was quite interesting. There was a ship-wreck in the river that would reveal and conceal itself with the tide. A roman bath house that still had a water supply. A citadel that towered above the campsite, which included a network of caves carved from the rock it sat on. Also this place was also the town where the Romans first planted grapes in France!

There was plenty to see and do to distract me from my hangover! By sundown I was feeling much better and I even got the chance to make friends with a dog at the campsite. Today had turned out to be an awesome lazy-ish day, despite how horrendous I felt that morning.

The night sky had now taken over. The clouds were dancing with the moon, bending and manipulating its lunar rays. With tired eyes I sat in my camping chair watching in admiration.

Tomorrow would bring even more excitement. On my way out of the town I would happen across a baby bird at the roadside.

I would call him Oscar, and you can read that story here.

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