Tues 4th June.
Pau and the tennis.
After a hazy start for obvious reasons, I got up and out as quickly as possible as I was being noticed by early morning dog walkers. I picked up a few disapproving looks on my way out, but as long as I didn’t leave any litter or destroy any trees, I figured what I wasn’t doing anything that bad. On top of that it is a national park, if nature can sleep there, what’s wrong with the occasional human.
I had to go back to Mourenx to pick up some food and water for then next few days. As I was getting closer to being in the Pyrenees, I didn’t know what to expect when there, so my plan was to really stock up in case there was no life whatsoever in the mountains. This would be the first of the big stock shops.
I went to the cornerstone of traveller food shopping, Lidl, stocked up, posted some postcards, had lunch, met the most extravagant Frenchmen I’d seen yet, a rather rotund man, wearing a blazer, thick dark glasses and a beret. Another French conversation I couldn’t understand.
Then set of down one main road for Pau.
I didn’t know anything about Pau, but was surprised by its size, historical buildings and density of people. I’d made no plans to visit Pau, so I didn’t want to get caught up and be behind.
I had organised to stay with a host on WarmShowers, so had to get an internet connection to get the address, which meant going to McDonalds. Then I would see a bit of the city.
I had the usual coffee and sat down to get the address and let them know I was coming and when. Shortly after sitting down, the TV came on and it was live coverage from the French Open, which I had caught bits of Barcelona.
Tsonga was playing Federer.
This changed everything. I couldn’t miss this rare opportunity to watch a full game of tennis of this calibre. So that was the next two hours sorted, which meant I wouldn’t be returning to the historical, in favour of watching tennis at McDonalds. The staff didn’t have anything better to do and didn’t seem to mind me being there too much.
Tsonga won the game, which put the staff in a good mood and gave me something to talk about with people. I was becoming more clear that Federer’s dominance in the world of tennis had no ended. Sad, but inevitable at 31.
While I was there, I noticed food on the table adjacent to mine, good food and there was plenty left. I kept an eye on the staff and swept it over to my table. Once it was there, I’m sure they would’ve noticed the hideous act I’d just performed, but once in front me, it looked like it had been there all along. I felt bad doing it, but the pleasure I got from the food greatly outweighed any sense of regret. It was still warm, sweet and delicious.
Once I dislodged myself from the chair, I had to stretch out properly I had been sat down for so long after cycling my body had started to seize up a bit. I switched on the GPS and headed south.
Almost immediately after leaving Pau, I came into hilly, dense, green terrain. After a struggle and the first of what would be the hills that would define the Pyrenees, I started to see mountains in the distance. I had finally re-reached the mountains and the start of my journey across them.
Although I did come across a hill that a really struggled with, with its steepness and the weight of the bike. I got of, pushed and feared for the worst as to what lay ahead.
I continued south and arrived a bit later than planned in the town of Luvie-Juzon.
When I got to my hosts house for the night, she was outside doing some marking. She was a teacher. We greeted each other and she informed me that her husband was out looking for me on his bike, for which I apologised and thanked them for their concern.
She showed me my room for the night and portioned out what they left from the food for me. I was hugely grateful and it was long before I got down for bed.