We left the heat and the bustle of Madrid behind as we made our way towards our last stop in Spain. The weather is brilliant and we are heading for 34 degrees.
We stopped at a very picturesque town of Burgos. So did about 10 other tour buses. Being a Saturday there was lots going on and m any of the locals out and about. There was some kind of celebration happening and there was lots of music and dancing. A river and a reserve runs through the town and plane trees line the banks making it a very pretty and restful looking village. I had some difficulty ordering something to drink in a little café but eventually can make myself understood enough to place an order. Sometimes it’s just easier to find a picture on a menu and just point!
We were to visit a museum as soon as we arrived in Bilbao. The thought of that after arriving at 3pm following a long drive was not one many of us could entertain. As Ambrogio was going to the hotel to do a bag drop and then come back and pick us up we were given the option of staying on the bus and going straight to the hotel if we wished. On seeing the famous Guggenheim museum and the outstanding building it is housed in we all piled off. That was not before another piece of illegal parking by the driver. The Tour Director was horrified when he rode the bus up on the footpath just to the side of the museum. Ambrogio knows all the tricks of the trade and he has been a godsend on many occasions making our lives a lot easier. When he stops the bus he usually gives us the war cry of ‘attack, attack, attack” of course with a lovely Italian accent.
The most amazing mosaic floral “cat” was outside and many of us went off to photograph that. Covered in flowers this monstrosity was a work of art. On closer inspection it is all planted in soil and literally the flowers are growing there…how in the blazingly hot conditions is another miracle. Apparently the flowers are replanted twice a year and you can understand what a huge undertaking that is with scaffolding being erected for weeks when that happens.
The architecture is a special feature in itself with many sculptures outside. The buildings are hugely spacious, light and airy. The art in them is hard to understand. Most on the tour really admired the architecture and the large outdoor sculptures but not many of us quite “got” the art inside…very very abstract.
Dinner was included tonight and with large round tables this created a significant noise factor. I think the establishment were grateful that we moved to the bar tables outside. One waiter who spoke very good English was thrilled to be amongst Aussies and Kiwi’s and he entered into the spirit of the evening however his boss didn’t think so. The boss grumped at him on several occasions. The rooms are large and spacious but there is not a lot of point spreading out as we are off again in the morning heading for Bordeaux and back to France. I am looking forward to Paris and also the Moulin Rouge show which apparently is booked out every night. Some have friends who have seen it and said it is definitely a highlight of the trip. There is much talk about the end of the trip that is now fast approaching.
On the way to Bordeaux the Tour Director told me that the handle on my bag had broken that morning while they were loading. I was a little surprised as I had spent some time choosing a new bag making sure it was going to be sturdy enough to cope with all the on the bus off the bus activity. I spent the next little while a bit concerned about how bad it might be and wondering what the strategy might be.
Along the way we had a brief visit to Biarritz an ancient fishing village turned trendy seaside resort. It was a beautiful place and we were able to walk along the beach, with proper golden sand and looked longingly at the water. If I had my togs I would have been in! Instead they were safely tucked up in my suitcase under the bus nowhere near the water at all! There were plenty in the sea though as the temperature was 34 degrees and rising.
We were able to stage another group photo as some were missing from the professional photo opportunity we did in Rome. Incidentally that one turned out surprisingly good and the Vatican is in the background. Seems an age ago that we were in Rome.
As we drove into Bordeaux we passed a square with fountains of cold mist coming out and many many locals enjoying the water. It had reached 39 degrees and predicted to stay that way until after Paris. Some had had enough and went onto the hotel. About half of us decided to explore Bordeaux for a couple of hours before the bus came back to pick us up. We walked across a huge empty square in the sweltering heat and found the centre of town. Being a Sunday many of the shops were closed but those that were open had air conditioning so we were moving from shop to shop just to keep cool. They did have some lovely clothes and shoes....very French.
On arriving at the hotel we were advised the air conditioning has broken and it is stifling hot. There was nothing to do but go to the bar and sample the French champagne and the rosé. I can report it is like nothing I have had at home.
I have opened the windows but the air is hotter outside. My bag was not here when I arrived so I got more and more concerned and had visualised all my belongings tumbling out of it somewhere. After a half an hour or so one of the other tour members delivered it to my room as it was in theirs by mistake. Fortunately it is just the handle that has broken and it has not damaged the actual case. No it’s not because I have too much in it!
Ambrogio tells me that the whole tour is a total of 8550 km……that’s a long way and we are nearly done. At least I can go to sleep on the bus at a drop of a hat now. That is more than I can say for the difficulty I will have with the sleep tonight…it is stifling and I have had two cold showers already.