Published: July 23rd 2006July 10th 2006
July 5 - 12
On the morning of the 5th we went to the train station to pick up our rental car. I asked Elisabeth for her driver's license because she had experience driving stick shift. She went to grab it from her wallet and realized her wallet was GONE. Stolen. Of course this resulted in some drama, but we called Bank of America to cancel the card and discovered it had been stolen 2 days before, surely on the way from airport to hotel, and someone had tried to buy over $1000 worth of appliances (they were denied). I have no idea how it happened - I was with her the entire way and didn't see a thing. We went to the train station police dept to report it stolen - she had just bought the wallet and I wanted to make sure to get a police report so Visa would reimburse her. Three other people came in to the station in the hour we were there reporting stolen bags. It is a huge problem in Barcelona.
So, I was the only driver on the rental agreement. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to drive stick. We've always had automatics
and I've just never learned (I'll admit this only because I am now a master stick-shift driver). So I tried to get us out of the parking garage, which was a disaster. I was terrified of driving in downtown Barcelona stalling out at each red light. Elisabeth drove us into France illegally - it was better than the alternative. Then I took some driving lessons around a gravel parking lot, stopping and starting over and over again. Around the 30th loop my coach (Elisabeth) had to get out of the car in order to avoid getting sick. By the third day I was driving and even drove us through the Pyrenees. Collioure
We headed first to a coastal town just over the France border. It had a nice walking village and a decent beach (typical Mediterranean rocky beach). I take no responsibility for any nudity that may have snuck into my pictures of the beach... We stayed here two nights and just took it easy. The town went crazy when France beat Brazil in the semi's. We also took a hike up a mtn. above the city. Carcassonne
We were planning on catching the Tour on the west
coast so we stopped at Carcassonne on the way across the country. It is a medieval city that is over-rated. It was pretty cheesy. Biarritz
We had a few days before the Tour so we chose a beach town on the map and went for it. It ended up being a great choice. It had a nice beach and surfing, and we found a nice hotel in an old french house with a view of the ocean. We stayed there for three nights. Unfortunately, France lost in the Finals - we were expecting a fun night.
There are more photos below