Time for the annual reunion with my mates from Uni. I say mates, but actually there's only two of us left after 20 years....not that the others are dead, they just haven't bothered for one reason or another! Anyway, I met up with my mate Chris in Dunstable on the Friday night at a cheap hotel called The Highwayman. Ideal for our early morning flight from Luton, as the single rooms were only £20. We stuck to 1 pint of Guinness each, as we had to be up at 4.00am to get to the airport.
My alarm went off at 4.00am and ten minutes later we met up and set off for the airport a short 15 minute drive away. We parked our cars at the long term car park for £13 a night and caught the shuttle bus to the terminal. Our flight left on time at 06.20.
1.5 hours later we landed in the South of France! Beautiful sunny Nimes.
Nimes is the capital of the Gard department in the Languedoc-Rousillon region in South West France. Its a city with a rich Roman history about 30 KM inland from the Mediterranean coast.
The airport at Garons is tiny, but did the job. The airport shuttle bus was waiting for new arrivals and cost 5.50 Euros for a one way trip into the "Centre-Ville" about 15KM away. We were dropped off at Boulevard Talabot, and our hotel Citotel Cesar Nimes was right there!
It was still too early to check-in as it was still only 10.am, but we were able to leave our bags at the hotel so we could go out to explore.............
We stopped off for a breakfast of Croissant, choc Au pain, and Cappuccino, in a tranquil square called Place du Bellecroix. It was getting hot, and was a great setting to line the stomach ready for the onslaught of alcohol that would be inevitable!
Beer O'clock arrived at 11am with a tasty refreshing French Lager called Affigem 3.50 Euros for 0.5L....today looked like it was going to be expensive. It was in a great location at a local bar on Boulevard Victor Hugo next to the Arenes.
It is still however a magnificent buiding that can and still does hold crowds of 20000. The entrance fee is worth it to see the views over the rooftops and city below. You can feel the history of the place as you walk around the concourse and then out onto the stone steps and seats. The heat up there was incredible as it approached midday, as the heat of the sun bounced off the stone.
The old town of Nimes is beautifully preserved with narrow streets that linked between Squares and courtyards, each filled with cafes, patisseries, restaurants and bars. We then came across another ancient Roman building called Maison Carée. This building is a stunning temple built around 4 or 5 AD and is beautifully intact.
It was now 1pm, so we headed back to the hotel to check in and move our bags into the room. The Hotel is in an excellent location, right by the SNCF station, and at the bottom of a beautifully manicured boulevard, 5 minutes walk from Les Arenes. Our room is a twin room and good value at 60 Euros a night.
We went straight back out in search of lunch. We soon found a decent looking Chinese restaurant that spilled out onto another square. We had a decent meal of spring rolls, curried Prawns, Chicken noodles and rice. We were hoping to try the fried frog legs that were on the menu, but apparently they are too small and out of season!
The meal was washed down with a couple of beers and a complimentary shot of a Chinese Liquor. Full and stomachs fully lined we went on a tour of the bars in the squares of Nimes.
By chance we were in nimes at the time of a brilliant music festival, and live bands were jamming throughout the day and gave a great soundtrack to a days drinking and sightseeing. A notable favourite bar was Carré Jazz at Place de La Maison Carée. A great place to drink and watch the people and the world go by.
We started off at Square de la Couronne for a pizza and a couple of beers and to take in the atmosphere as another band played.
The rest of the night was a continuation of touring the towns bars and checking out the bands that played. One of the squares hosted a DJ playing decent House music, a good opportunity to see if we could still act like we were 19!
We managed to work our way right across the other side of the city, but were directed back in the direction of Les Arenés by a few friendly locals. We found bars that were full off people dancing to Latin music - even the local police joined in with the party! Next door was an Irish pub, that erupted as the band outside sang a Pogues favourite "Dirty Old Town". A brilliant song to sing along to after a day and night of drinking! The night finished off pretty much the same as the nights at Uni back in the early 90's with a Kebab! We got back about 2.30am after a brilliant day, spent in a beautiful city.
Sunday morning was spent with a walk around town back at were it all began yesterday with several coffees and a croissant to mask our tiredness. We caught the airport bus at 11.30am (5.5 Euros) back to the airport without any dramas......................An end to a brilliant 27 hours in Nimes!!
Plans are already in place for the reunion in 2015 in some place around Europe!!
My other travel blogs can be found here...........Please click on link to read!
Cappadocia Blog here