Day 11: St-MaloLast modified 2023/08/23 21:47
So I had intended to catch the late sailing from St. Malo to portsmouth today.
As I lay down in my tent the prvious evening I decided it would be a good time
to reserve a ticket, I went to the Condoor Ferry website, selected
France-UK and all was going well until it told me the bicycle spaces were
This was an inconvenience as there were two possiblities, wake up very early
and take a different ferry which sails at 10:30 or stay a night in St. Malo.
Something within me deeply disliked the idea of rushing to the port in the
morning, so I was left with staying the night in St. Malo and catching the
ferry the following morning. I decided to stay in a hotel as I didn’t want to
hang about all day at a Camping, I checked the prices on
booking.com and it
was expensive - the cheapest hotel being £110.
I had to both book a hotel and book a ferry and make sure that I didn’t book a hotel only to find out the ferry was full (and there was a good chance it could be). I decided to sleep on it.
Cycle path (train line?)
In the morning the cheapest price on
booking.com was now £120.
I didn’t want to pay that, it was probably twice as much as I’d paid for all
the camping on the entire trip and something in me deeply resents paying
extortionate prices for accomodation. Then I wondered - what if there are
cheaper prices not on
booking.com. I googled, and I found the F1 hotel,
which, for whatever reason, was not on
booking.com and which offered rooms
for 70 euro a night. Not cheap, but cheap enough for me.
After booking that I tried to book the ferry, unfortunately the campsite WiFi was maddeningly unreliable, and after trying to buy the ticket several times with varying levels of progress (including authorizing the payment 3 times) I was wringing my head in my hands.
“did you sleep well?” “yes, actually I did. I didn’t expect to, but I did”.
It was entirely likely the ferry would sell out and then I would have paid for a hotel for nothing. I tried one more time (survival bias, I would have kept trying for hours) and finally booked it. I double checked my emails very much expecting to have booked the wrong dates, not booked the bicycle, booked the wrong port, to have been invoiced several times, but… miraculously everything was in order.
Now my job was done 😌 I had just 30-40k to cycle to St. Malo and the hotel check-in was at 10:30 and it was 8am. I went back to my tent and relaxed, read my book and generally just laid there for a few hours. Finally packing up at 10pm and hitting the road again, slowly.
“I’m a walker, I walked 100 miles” “oh really?”
Bizzare teenagers errect on electric scooters slowly rolling safely through the countryside.
I decided to stop after an hour to get some supplementary breakfast, a coffee and a Pain au Raisin, coming into the town my way was barred by two police officers standing on what I thought was the cycle path. Whenever I see police I will automatically do something stupid in an effort to “ACT NORMALLY AND DON’T BREAK THE LAW” (whatever the law may be - e.g. would it be weird to not closely overtake them on the inside lane?). I rode directly towards them and nodded “bonjour” they moved out of the way. Nothing happened, but in retrospect I don’t think it was a cycle path they were standing on.
Pain aux Raisin
I was able to get my supplementary breakfast including a coffee and I sat on the wall of a church and enjoyed it, then slowly moved on my way while wandering why for my entire trip the odomoeter had not matched up with the GPS based recording of my track. I’m using my phone to record my exact route using GPS but it, for example, says 97km and my odomoter says 110km.
The recorder was only setup to record my position every minute (in an effort to save battery) so I guess any zig-zagging that happened in a minute would be translated to a straight line. That probably explains the discrepency, the other possibility is that the odometer is not configured to my wheel size correctly as I had to change the battery before I left. I may never know the truth, and in anycase the higher one is correct.
I found the F1 hotel, part of a chain of budget hotels, I almost missed it as it was not obvious that it existed on the commercial estate. I cycled round the back and there was nobody at reception and two Norwegians speaking Norwegian and smoking. “Rooms only available after 14:00”. I waited for 20 minutes playing with my phone which connected to the passwordless internet.
“The canal path is flat, you can go fast, whoosh” “but I don’t like it when it’s flat” “you’re right! it’s monotonous”
Basically I checked in, the room was simple but comfortable. I was a bit worried about where to put my bike (there was not even a hard-point in the car park) but the receptionist said I could put my bike in the room. The room didn’t have a bathroom, but had a sink. The only issue is that it’s about 4k from the center, which is a long way for dinner but a short commute to the ferry with the bike.
Dans la chambre
“Est-ce qu’il y’a de l’eau piquant” (confused look on her face) “bah, oui” “on a le brauhrrrauuuedequoi eau” et la “araleauuudeluqoui eau” (consfused look on my face) “mais c’est quoi le burrreaudeleau de l’eau en fait?” (what the fuck is that?) “bah, c’est la marque!” (it’s the brand!) “mais, bon, ok, une de ca s’il vous plait” (ok)
In Brest the Pizza guy responded to my “Est-ce qu’il y a du Tabasco?” with “de l’eau piquant?” so I figured that was what I should order. After the waitress left I looked at my table and the bottle of what I thought was eau-piqant - Chilli Oil.
I want back in “desole uh, qu’est-ce que j’ai commande?” (sorry what did I order) “bahh, une pizza, une bier pression” “et?” “et quoi?” “j’ai commande aussi de l’eau piquant, mais il est la deja, je ne comprende pas” (confused looks all round) “ok, pas de l’eau piquant alors” (ok no spicy water for me thanks)
10 minutes later the waitress brought my pizza out, “du coup, ca c’est pas de l’eau piquant” (of blows, that it is not the water spice?) I said gesturing at the chilli oil. “bah non”. “ok”.
finally we were both very confused and she came out with some sparkling mineral water “il y a de la boule” (there are bubbles!) “ah! non, c’est bon merci, tout est bien” (oh how stupid of me, I’m so sorry).
De l’eau piquante (ou pas)
Tomorrow I aim to be at the ferry terminal at around 9AM, for a long 8 hour crossing, in which time I’ll probably do some programming on my computer and read my book and sleep.