Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No Photos to Protect the Guilty

Last night was Barry’s turn to choose the hotel…

We stopped in Capbreton, a very small coastal town north of Biarritz. We were late driving into town; there were a couple of hotels that looked abandoned, not a good omen. Sunday night is slow in most small French villages, slow as in… nothing is open and no one is on the street. We wove around narrow one way streets and found nothing, one more loop and we were ready to move on to another town. Getting dark and starting to rain… Barry glanced up a tiny street and spotted a H’OTEL - BAR sign… in glaring neon. We are definitely old enough to know better, but were very tired and more than ready to stop for the night. Barry dashed inside (did I mention it was raining?) and negotiated the “Deal of the Century”! Less than half price of the room in the Chateau we stayed in last night, what a deal?

The woman proprietor spoke no English and after many gestures and drawing of numbers on paper the fee decided and paid in advance. We were given the key and told where to hang it up on the board behind the bar when we left.

One really old rundown room, one story up a narrow stairway, down a dark hallway was room #9, only 42€. Beyond paper thin walls and a door made of plywood (opened with a skeleton key with a plastic tab), sat a bed, armoire (actually a fine old piece with inlaid designs and a beveled glass mirror, used furniture in France about $3,000 in the USA), a tiny refrigerator with an even smaller microwave on top was balanced a tiny TV with the remote control on top. A pyramid of technology resembling something you would see in a dorm room but without the computer.

The toilette and the shower were packed into a little space that once was an insufficient closet. The toilet sat at a 45% angle pointing toward a double folding door that separated it from the “bed” room. The toilet had a surge pump arrangement, rather than the flush mechanism used in most US homes, so that it could use a smaller drain line. When you flushed, it first growled like a demon, made a belching sound, then a grinding sound then a second huge flush/gush of water. Not something to flush at 2AM! The only window opened onto a roof deck. Straight across the roof you could see a woman frying fish. It was odd that the smell was almost intoxicating.

Oh Well… as Barry’s mother used to say, “Your eyes will be closed when you’re sleep anyway”.

In the morning we attempted to shower. The shower curtain wrapped from wall to wall on two sides. When the hot water eventually began to flow the rising steam would suck the thin curtain up against your now burning hot skin. You had to fight it back (Like a teenage boy on his first date). Of course there was no window to open or even a vent in this space so the steam quaffs out into the bedroom and out the window across the roof deck like our room was on fire. Now that it was daylight we drove 4 more blocks to the actual Coast only to find a 6 story two star Hotel with full service and plenty of ocean view rooms.

Near the sea wall we found a small café open, ordered our usual café a lait and croissants to ease our pain and shock us out of our deep depression. We sat, sipped and gazed out over the Atlantic deciding once again that we can make it though just about anything. But the next hotel will be MY choice… possibly another Chateau room.

And if you are, thanks for reading.

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