05 March 2013

A grey day in Ile de Ré...and Sophie arrives!

The end of Rob's stay with me was marked with a little trip to Ile de Ré, an island off La Rochelle which I've wanted to go to for some time now. So on Monday morning, with the hotel booked, we woke up excited to go on our mini holiday by the sea, only to be greeted with snow. Bit of a piss-take when the whole of the week before there hadn't been a cloud in the sky. 

I do like my snow, however I'd rather it didn't come on the day I was going to the seaside.
Anyway, 2 buses and a train ride later we arrived in Sainte-Marie de Re, a town on the south of the island, walked for about half an hour in the freezing cold to our hotel, and checked-in to our swanky lime-coloured room that practically walked out into the swimming pool that we couldn't use as the weather was too cold. 

This would be perfect in the summer
Just after it started raining we decided to walk to the beach and check out the nearby restaurants so we could choose in advance where we would spend our last night meal together. I've never seen a 21-year-old so excited to be at the seaside but not be able to swim in the sea. That was Rob. I on the other hand was freezing cold and thinking how gorgeous this place would be in the sun. It was still nice to see the sea and boats bobbing on the horizon. 

After our restaurant reccy proved futile (two were super pricey and the other was closed for the month) Rob and I were left weighing up our options: a) Rob ends up bankrupt after treating me to a meal at one of the 2 aforementioned eateries, b) we could buy some bits from the nearby Carrefour and have a picnic in our hotel room, or c) hope that the takeaway service we saw advertised earlier in the hotel was still operating at this time of year. After 10 minutes of head-scratching in a bus shelter we decided to go with optioned C combined with a bit of option B for booze, biccies and chocolate pots. Ordering a microwaved piece of fish and rice back at the hotel, we were pleasantly surprised when plates, cutlery, glasses, a bread basket and cute little salt-and-pepper shakers got brought to our room. 

Take-away in our hotel room. Call it 'room-service' and it suddenly becomes much more classy.

I'm glad I've now ticked Ile de Ré off the list, but it's definitely somewhere to go in the summer months rather than the winter - so many houses are shut up at this time of year and the town we were in was pretty dead. I certainly want to see it in high season in the future though.

Before Rob's plane the next evening Rob still wanted to take me to a restaurant, so we decided to leave Ile de Ré the next morning and go to La Rochelle where we knew there'd be reasonably priced restaurants. Once seated in a restaurant I lolled on finding that there was horse-meat burger on the menu, so naturally I couldn't resist.

With horse burger on the menu, it would have been boring of me not to
We had a couple of hours to kill after lunch, so we wandered for a bit around the harbour...
...and found the beach as the sun started to come out

After an emotional goodbye, Rob went through to departures whilst I waited for Sophie my cousin to arrive half an hour later. I'd been a bit nonchalant in my original planning of meeting Sophie at the airport then getting to La Rochelle station in time to get the train that would get us back to Niort for the last bus to Melle. I realised a few days before that Sophie's plane was due to land at 17:15 and the train from the other side of the city was leaving at 17:44. After messaging her in advance to tell her to make sure she's the first off the plane, I was pleased when Sophie was the 3rd person to emerge through arrivals. However it was now 17:25. We ran to the nearest taxi and leapt in whilst I was trying and failing to conjure up a Plan B should we miss the train, which was looking increasingly likely. Shoving 20€ into the cabby's hand as he rolled into Gare de La Rochelle at 17:42 we sprinted with case and travel bag in tow to the departures board to see that our train was to be leaving from the furthest platform which you have to reach by going through an underpass. So we legged it. And....

We made the train. About 30 seconds before the doors closed. Never have I been so proud/amazed.

Once again I've waffled in this post, so find out tomorrow what I got up to when Sophie came to Melle :P