Sep. 7th, 2010

onwards to Carcassonne…

Darkness had fallen when we got back to the car. Once we got outside the bounds of the city (all of two minutes) and the attendant street-lighting, I noticed something was off. Specifically, the driver’s side headlamp. It worked on full-beam but not on dipped. Oh joy. At least it wasn’t a long journey on the winding country roads back to the motorway, and, according to the map, it wasn’t far from the motorway to the city centre at the other end. So, on we drove, looking a little one-eyed, and hoping we wouldn’t get spotted by the gendarmes.

Getting to the city centre proved easy enough, even if relating the Google directions to reality was difficult (what do you mean, you want the street name signs to be easy to spot?). Fortunately, the big Ibis sign was easier to spot. There was a single parking space outside (presumably for loading and unloading only), so we used that. The next bit was the least pleasant part of the holiday.

The receptionist didn’t speak English, so it all had to be done with my halting French. So far as we could understand, because Silme’s credit-card number had changed since the booking was made, they didn’t confirm the booking and there was no room for us. The receptionist called the other Ibis hotel in town and they had a room. She also marked its location on the little street map, using a high-lighter. We still weren’t happy with the explanation, so she called in the hotel owner/manager. He turned out to be a very unpleasant little man, told us it was all our fault and when we protested, threatened to throw us out of the hotel and call the gendarmes.

The receptionists sketch map proved less than accurate, taking us the wrong side of the main road. After a few dead ends, I enquired at the reception of another hotel. He gave us more accurate directions, so we made it.

The receptionist there was much nicer, and spoke some English. They did have a room for the night, but not the following night. He kindly called the Etap hotel nearby and confirmed that they had a room for the following night (neither could accommodate us for both nights) and then made the booking for us. This somewhat restored our faith in the Ibis chain. The room was comfortable enough, and at least it had free wifi.

In the morning, we packed our stuff back into the car. I called the local Eurocar rental office to tell them about the broken lamp, but all they could offer was that we should drive out to the airport and exchange the car. Not wishing to waste a couple more hours of our trip, I said we’d call them back. The Etap was indeed very close by. The receptionist there was very friendly. She told us we couldn’t book in yet, but that the room was confirmed (they took the credit card number the night before), so we could check in any time, even late in the evening. We asked if we could leave the car there and get a taxi in to the city. She told us that was fine, but that the city was only 10-15 minutes walk and gave us directions. So, camera and sun-screen in hand, off we went…

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luis_mw

June 2012

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