Planes, Trains and Vintage Automobiles : A Quinssa Trip to the South of France
Part Two: The Montpellier Magical Mystery Tour
A strange thing happened on the last morning at the Beziers Sauna . . . BQ actually got up in time to have breakfast! Not sure it was worth the effort, but it had to be done. TS, Anne & Simon went off in their car for a day at the beach, Prof, BatQuin, Innuendo, Sleepy Hollow, AJB and BaldRick took two taxis to the train station to start the next part of their journey . . . to Montpellier! Apart from Sleepy Hollow looking a lot like Denholm Eliot in his hat, the journey was quite uneventful. The train had some airconditioning (HURRAH!), I fell asleep (zzzzzzzzzzz) and that was about it.
On arrival at Montpellier, we lost Rick. The train station seemed to have about 100 exits and Rick picked one none of the rest of us had seen. Eventually we found Rick and headed for the taxi rank. Sleepy Hollow pointed to the address of our hotel and the taxi driver told SH and BQ that the hotel was a 2 minute walk away from the station so it wasnt worth a taxi. Wonderful, wed be there soon. It was very hot as we set out to stroll for a couple of minutes to the hotel. Half an hour later we were still trudging down the road with our luggage, in the midday sun. 2 minutes mon derriere! Lying Git of Gallic Extraction! It was very hot and the incessant squeaking of the wheels on Innuendos case was getting unbearable. As IA got more annoyed and tugged at the case, it kept falling over, tripping up anyone who was following. That must be getting on YOUR nerves, said BQ, because its really p*ssing me off.
Eventually we arrived at the hotel. In comparison with Beziers it looked like a palace. Imagine our delight at feeling the airconditioning and seeing the sign for piscine (thats swimming pool to you lot). SH gave the receptionist all the relevant paperwork, including his confirmation details and credit card and was told Sorry Mr Warner, you and your party are in another hotel. GGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRR! Now, we were on holiday, so we didnt get that upset. Also Prof tried to cheer us up with his new joke Super Hero. Following on from Flipper and Skippy, he told us about Champignon the Wonder Mushroom. Well, WE laughed! The receptionist then told us that the new hotel was of the same standard and only a few minutes away (hmmm, sounding familiar?). Two cabs arrived and in we got. About 20 minutes later - Lying Cow of Gallic Extraction we passed the sign indicating that we had left Montpellier! BQ looked at Prof and they both tried to see the look on IAs face in the front of the taxi as the two taxis pulled into an industrial estate and drove past a Skoda garage. Fan-bloody-tastic! All we needed, a crummy hotel on an industrial estate! :o(
Take heart, dear reader, it didnt turn out to be that bad after all! The miserable bloke at the front desk was expecting us (good!) and we handed over our passports and got our room keys. BQ got a bit scared when she looked at the returned passport. She appeared to have become BaldRick! The look of surprise on her face was something to behold. Basically she wasnt paying attention more brunette hair dye needed!
The rooms were great! There was aircon, there was a bath (and, thank heavens a separate WC; you will realise why this was helpful later!) and . . . there was CNN! Prof was like a kid at Christmas. BQ did think of removing the plug from the TV (and the bath) but that would have been far too cruel!
SH, IA, Prof, AJB and BQ had a very nice lunch in the garden of the hotel, by the outside swimming pool. Our group drank the hotel out of . . . . . Orangina! That must be a first! Rick had apparently decided to have a short nap, but it lasted a couple of hours. Following their leisurely (late) lunch, the weary travellers went for a rest. Well meet at 8pm, said SH. Apparently by about 9pm, theyd given up on Prof and BQ and gone to dinner. A very strange thing occurred that evening, so Im told, . . . BaldRick refused a beer! I can hear you gasping in astonishment! Before you think that hed been abducted by aliens, I can tell you that this only lasted a few seconds until he could be persuaded to have just one more! BQ had gone for a 3 hour snoozette, while Prof had a bath for several hours (and Im NOT joking!) [well it was a good book I was reading and the first bath I had seen in three days Prof]. BQ woke up around 10.00pm and he was STILL in the bath. Once shed established he hadnt drowned, she went back to sleep! A while later, Prof (out of the bath now) received a text message to say that Simon, Anne & TS had managed to get into the first hotel, despite booking up AFTER Sleepy Hollow. Now, poor SH will be getting a complex. This happened in Castres with Terry and now in Montpellier with Simon. Methinks he should just book hotels in the name of Terry Pierce or Simon Coleman would save heaps of aggro!
Date for your diaries : Friday 15 August 2003 Prof didnt have an alcoholic drink at all!
Next morning we went for breakfast! Now, THIS breakfast was worth getting up for. We had planned a day in Montpellier (just a SHORT TREK from our hotel) and would see what delights awaited. AJB and SH had worked out the bus timetable with military precision and so they led us on our way. Safely onto the bus, we journeyed into Montpellier and sauntered to the Tourist Information Office. This was soon to be re-named the (Mis)Information Office as they didnt seem to know anything. Prof was given 3 different locations for the Archaeological Museum - all of them miles from each other! No-one seemed to have any clue whether or not Montpellier were going to be playing a rugby match at home that evening. They were hopeless.
Out in the Square was a carousel, so BQ decided that would be a good option. While being laughed at by Prof and IA, she happily went round and round for a few minutes until she spied a shop named Andre and nearly fell off her horse! No, it doesnt sell Andre clones, they yelled. TS, used to the general indecision by now, suggested the others get a drink while they didnt make any useful decisions. We all joined up to sit around for a while in the sun, while Simon & Anne tried to find something for us to do. They came back suggesting we take a train ride round Montpellier . . . on a train that resembled the sort you get at the end of the pier. It was a tight squeeze through some of those winding streets! The French guide sounded a lot like Hannibal Lecter which was quite alarming. Hey, is he talking Flemish? said AJB, as the guide made disgusting noises from the front of the train. Feeling rather thirsty, he wondered if he could lean out of the train and grab a drink off the table we were passing? Only problem was that the train was going so slowly that the guy could easily have caught up and thumped AJB for stealing his drink!
We got off the train and went to find a drink. AJB, Rick and Prof had found an Oirish pub [on our previous cultural bimble round the town visiting cathedrals etc. Prof], so they headed in that direction for a glass or two of AG. Being a bit hungry we tried to get food. The owner was very helpful, but as they were closing the kitchen, we had to take what we could get. So, in the blistering heat, Sleepy Hollow sat down for a nice plate of Oirish Stew!!
We watched the Tri-Nations game . . . think it was two sides that England beat recently . . . cant remember who though, and unsuccessfully tried to find out if there was a local rugby match we could go to. No-one was sure who was playing or where they were playing or even WHAT they were playing, so we gave up and wandered aimlessly around Montpellier. Prof, BQ, IA and Anne found a church that had doubled up as an art gallery and was exhibiting some very odd (and quite hopeless) stuff. They then wandered through a park and up to an old aqueduct to admire the view and take photos. Sleepy Hollow posed for pictures taken by his own camera. If youve got the features (on the camera) you may as well used them, he said every time someone offered to take the picture for him. More general indecision led to more general ambling back into town. Eventually BQ suggested that as no-one actually wanted food (oh, well, apart from SH, but that doesnt count) they should go and get a drink? Agreement! HURRAH! A bar was found, the tables were moved around and we sat down. Suddenly, a strange thing was spied in the street. It was a bloke sporting a London Irish shirt. He was treated to a very tuneful rendition of I dont want to be a Paddy. Bet that made him feel right at home!
We wandered round trying to find somewhere to eat and eventually ended up back in the Square from earlier. A lot of noise was emanating from the centre of the Place de la Comedie and we realised that Montpellier appeared to be hosting a very bad break-dancing competition. Guys, dancing to some God-awful music were trying to look mean and menacing, as if theyd just arrived from the local hood. AJB was not impressed at all: No, youre not from the East Bronx and you are not a bad-ass Mother. Your name is Jean-Pierre and you work in a Patisserie. HA!
Thankfully the break-dancing finished and we managed to leave the café before they started stacking the tables. We convinced the cabbie to take all six of us and so Prof, BaldRick and AJB were sat along the back seat, resembling a first-class front row. More room was gained by opening both the windows so that Prof and AJB could lean one arm out each. I had LOADS of room in the kiddies seat in the back!
Off we went to our lovely airconditioned rooms sleep, or in some cases, bathe for several hours and laugh at the comedy channel that is CNN.
Breakfast in the dining room because it appeared to have rained in the night. Apparently there had also been a terrific storm that I sort of remember, but not really! Sadly, it didnt mean it was any cooler! We discussed the delights of Montpellier from the previous day and wondered about the sexual orientation of the inhabitants of the city. Lets face it, said SH, if you had dropped your wallet, youd have kicked it all the way to the cab! We all dispersed to pack our cases and agreed to meet in reception to check out shortly. A little bit later than arranged (?) BQ and Prof turned up in Reception to find the others waiting for them. BQ and SH sorted out the checking out process so that we didnt get charged several times by the wrong hotel. We then went for an aimless wander around the hotel, trying to find out if we could play on the advertised putting green. Hmmm - no. The Putting Green was basically a bit of rough ground with some sandy, gravel bits that could in no way have been mistaken for bunkers. Ping Pong didnt look hopeful either as the table was waterlogged!
Eager to be on our way to Millau for the final part of our journey, we rang two cabs and headed off for Montpellier station . . . in the rain!