Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 18 January 2007

Beaune to Valencia - and the sun is shining!

I left Beaune on Tuesday morning and after a 4-5 hour drive (including a break for lunch) arrived in Vaisons-la-Romaine safely. I had a great evening with my friends there - lots of conversation (tiring for me as my French although fluent is now more of an effort as I don't use it very often nowadays) and reminiscences about Paris, etc., as well as talk about many other things, including the upcoming French Presidential election. The lady of the house is a very good cook so we had traditional French cooking and a bottle of each of the local white and red wines from their favourite producer nearby - all in all a very nice interlude. I got given a bottle of each wine to take away, so no doubt I'll be opening at least one of them over the coming weekend, when I'm in situ in Mazarron.

Wednesday morning saw me making a fairly early start from Vaisons-la-Romaine (I was away by about 9.10am) and once back on the motorway made fast progress south; I have never driven through Lyon before, but had heard a lot about the tunnel under the city which is a notorious summer blackspot for traffic jams - at this time of year it all went quite smoothly, although the traffic around Lyon was indeed very heavy. I crossed into Spain in mid-afternoon and less than an hour later was arriving in Girona where I had a very pleasant evening in a nice hotel - a palace of French/Spanish minimalist style where I had a lovely meal of a whole sea bass with some rather nice, tasty white wine from the Valladolid area.

This morning, after a relaxed breakfast in Girona, I was on the road just after 10.15am and as I drove south the weather became increasingly sunny and the outside temeprature reading in the car reached 20 degrees C at one point. I arrived here in Valencia in late afternoon - the hotel is again modern and comfortable, although this time in a sort of 'space-age' kind of way - the bathroom is a module, very functional and very well designed, but the whole effect is rather soul-less. I'm intrigued to know what dinner is going to be like. I chose this hotel, like the others I have chosen, because all Accor hotels accept pets and like all chain hotels one knows exactly what one gets for the price, whether from their upmarket or more 'down-market' brands (this time I've been staying in a mixture of their Novotel and Ibis branded hotels; anyone familiar with the Accor name will immediately know what this means in terms of service levels, etc. They also have wi-fi access in most hotels - no doubt an important consideration for the business traveller and for people like me who like to stay online whilst travelling.

Tomorrow I enter the last and relatively short sector of my journey before reaching my destination near Mazarron; I'll stop on the way in a place called Alhama de Murcia where I shall do the very mundane task of visiting a supermarket to stock up on things I shall need for the next day or so. I'll take a few days after I arrive to relax after my lengthy journey so don't plan to try and update the blog again until the early part of next week.

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