You see, the original plan had been from Barcelona to San Sebastian, but as that would have meant driving through the Pyrenees Mountains and we would be so close to the French Border, we decided to dip into France for a couple of days. We could check out Lourdes, which would make our parents happy and then head up to the Bordeaux region, which would make us happy!
The key thing to note here is that I said drive. We had decided we would hire a car from the day of leaving Barcelona to the day of arriving in Madrid. As I am both a control freak and the one who spent a good 20-something years driving on the right side of the road, I decided to take on the driving. When the Fashion Mister has driven in the US on the right side of the road it makes me very nervous. Mind you he is great in Australia on the left side.
Me and the Mini: We had two priorities when hiring a car, it needed to be small – thanks to our trip to Ireland a few years back, we know the streets are sometimes narrow and parking tight – and it had to have enough boot space (that is trunk space for you in the Americas) that if our bags were in the car they would be concealed when we got out. I was pleasantly surprised that the Mini turned out to be so perfect! Plus it was pretty roomy inside. Considering I am 5’10” and the Fashion Mister is 6’1″ we both felt we had lots of room and head clearance. One of the smartest things we did, was to hire a GPS! After all, when driving in a country where you aren’t REALLY familiar with the language, you need something giving you directions in a language you understand.
Driving on the Other Side of the Road: As I mentioned, from the time I was 16 until nearly 40, I was living in the US so I learned to drive from the left hand side of the car and on the right hand side of the road. Then I moved to Australia where you drive from the right hand side of the car on the left hand side of the road. When we go back to the US to visit, I do most of the driving, partly because I know where we are going and partly because it’s like home ground advantage. However, just because you are driving from the side of the car and on the side of the road that you learned on, doesn’t mean you have home ground advantage! I can tell you that driving in a country where you don’t understand the road signs and aren’t familiar with the road rules can be a right proper disadvantage!
We had planned to make a stop in a place called La Rocca Village because they have a big designer outlet mall. We didn’t have an actual address for the Mall but thought it shouldn’t be too hard to find if we could get to La Rocca Village. Our lovely lady from GPS, did a great job getting us right to the middle of town as we asked. BUT, she had no idea where the outlet mall was and it was a far bigger town than we had expected. Soooo, the Fashion Mister thought we should just try to drive around until we found it. Quite honestly, I nearly wet myself I was so nervous!
I shouldn’t even admit it but at one point I got so overwhelmed that I ended up going the wrong way around a round-about! Pretty sure I pissed a few drivers off and maybe scared another. All I could think was, “Sorry, not from around here” which is something a dear friend of mine always says…even if she is. Never before in my life have I gotten so overwhelmed that my brain froze and I did something that stupid.
Once we got off the road, I wanted to cry just thinking that I could have killed both of us and someone else. My eyes teared up, but I wouldn’t let myself cry…it’s not my style and I needed to get myself under control. So I decided that I really didn’t need to go shopping and that perhaps it was a sign that I should be shopping at lovely little specialty boutiques in each of the towns we visited. Now that thinking was far more normal for me!
So we set the GPS for Lourdes, France and off we went without further frights…well, till we got to Lourdes…but that wasn’t my fault and I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow.
That was our big travel adventure on the leg from Barcelona to Lourdes.
- Lourdes to Close! (misebogland.wordpress.com)
- VIDEO: French floods hit Lourdes shrine (bbc.co.uk)
- Pilgrims evacuated from Lourdes (bbc.co.uk)
- Hundreds evacuated from Lourdes due to flooding (catholicnewsagency.com)
- What Side Of The Road Do You Drive On? (juliegilley.typepad.com)