Fog on the Loire

Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
Trip End Jun 20, 2009

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Flag of France  , Pays de la Loire,
Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saw the Loire for the first time today. Its huge Danube sized. It actually looked damp and overcast; pretty much like the morning. Yesterday the sun had burst through and by about 10 am it was looking like a decent day; today by 10am the humidity of the mist has increased to the point were it was hard to tell if it was actually raining until it started to.
A short day today; about 30 kms following the Loire par Velo route to another open campsite. This also puts me in range of Tours which has a youth hostel. The next couple of stops look sorted.
Anyway despite the grim start and general dreariness of the rest of the day there were indeed castles, caves, churches and a restaurant in a mine. There are also some other tourists. Most of the tasting / cave places are on their off season hours so close for lunch.
The bike route id signposted but idiosyncratically; on sign said Samur 6km by road and 9km by bike route. Other classics are bike lanes terminated by having tree's planted in them, bike lanes running one direction overruled by road directing traffic down them in the opposite direction. I saw a couple of policemen caught out by this and having to rapidly abandon their bikes in the face of oncoming traffic.
Anyway; the restaurant in a mine was also a club and a mushroom farm. You walked down about 20 meters of twisting passageway to reach the dining room; it would be ace but was a bit expensive and the rest of the mine was closed.
I got into Samur about 12 but it was well confusing. Its split over a couple of islands and there are different co-joined towns with similar names. But it does have the most amazing Chateau on the hill; just like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The campsite was apparently a special "Loire by velo" deal. This means you pay 10 per night for a site with none of the advertised facilities bar one toilet block. Even the wireless is inaccessible because the key to the passwords is elsewhere. Last nights place charged half the price for the same facilities!
I was a bit shocked on checking the tyre pressures this morning; the read was at 20 psi which is usually pretty hard work. I've patched it already but I'm unwilling to keep using patches. The front was also a bit lower but not as fast. Fortuneatly Samur has a vast hypermarket so I was able to find it them and some food for tomorrow; I'd forgotten it was Sunday as the weeks don't have the same pattern. That said the chiabatta with sausage and olives from the Boulangerie this morning was fabulous; they're becoming a fixture.
It also remined me of just how expensive France is at a 1:e1 exchange rate. A simple USB extension cord on special offer was 5, the cheapest watch was 25 and there were no digital ones, the cheapest packet of crisps was 1. If there's a time to kick back and meander it needs to be in a cheaper country.
Opposite me on the campsite is a mobile home rented by what appears to be a mother daughter and her three kids. All on bikes; they came back from town in the dark and left with tabards shortly after. I was amazed as most UK parents wouldn't dream of going out with their kids on bikes after dark. The kids seem to have lots of freedom.
There's also a bar in town reputed to offer wireless; as I'm planning to stay here another day I may well spend Sunday morning there. I'm a bit torn on sightseeing; I need to be making progress to make Turkey by mid May and these are all places I can visit again. On the other hand while I'm here it seems a shame to rush past them.
I left lunch a bit late and had to cook in the dark; this is worth avoiding in future! I also need to sort out the bluetooth on my phone as the USB plug is going to wear out and its quite awkward.
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