The 7th May arrived, a Sunday. I had decided I was going to move as I was in imminent danger of falling foul of what I term “travel inertia” which constantly manages to creep up on me. As I believe I have mentioned previously in this blog I went to Dumaguete City in the Philippines for two or three days back in 2012 and was still there five months later! In truth, it caught up with me later in Rome but that is a long way down the track in this saga. Hopefully I’ll get to it sooner or later.
I had decided not to go on a massive jaunt and had looked at a map and decided on Macon which is to the South of Dijon. I had a notion to keep going South as I was still in search of that rather elusive sunshine. Why Macon? Why not? I had never even heard of the place which was as good a reason as any for me. I had organised another carpool ride as I was beginning to quite like that as a cost-effective mode of transportation and the driver and his friend turned up outside the station bang on time. We stopped a little way down the road to pick up a young lady so we had a full car but it was very comfortable nonetheless even with my rather long legs. There was just about no English spoken and after a few pleasantries I was struggling to keep up with the conversation and, rather rudely I suppose, dozed off for a time. Still, no harm done and we arrived in Macon in short order.
I know that the fault is entirely mine for not checking the map when I booked the ride but what happened was that the guy dropped me off at an area composed of motels and industrial units and which turned out to be literally miles out-of-town. The others were heading on further South and he just wanted to drop me and not go too far from the autoroute so he could get back on it which is fair enough and he certainly had not misled me when I booked. Absolutely nothing in the way of public transport was on offer so I thought I’d start heading in the direction of town and at least find a bar to ask directions. Well, that was the plan.
As always, technology was not my friend and, after wandering pretty aimlessly round an industrial estate for a while at the behest of Google maps and then down a long cul-de-sac ending in private land, I abandoned it in favour of following my instincts. I walked and I walked and then I walked some more. When I was finished doing that, I walked! I was literally in the middle of the country, miles from anywhere it appeared. Having located what looked like a fairly main road and seen signs for “centre ville” (town centre) I tried Google Maps again. Apparently Google think it is a good idea for pedestrians to walk along a very busy fast road where there is no pavement (sidewalk) – very smart thinking. It was pretty scary to say the least and I do not scare easily.
After what seemed like an eternity I eventually came upon a bar / restaurant called “a le Tipi” which was aptly named as it was the “in-house” facility for the municipal campsite which did look quite pleasant.
I settled in for a beer and then asked the manageress how far it was to my hotel. Basically it was miles. Not only was I marooned out one side of town but my hotel was very usefully right out the opposite side. OK, bite the bullet then and get a taxi thereby negating any savings I had made by getting a carpool over the train which would have deposited me right in the centre. I asked the very charming lady did she have a number for a taxi firm and she told me there was little chance of getting one on a Sunday evening. This was about 1700 in the day! What kind of backwoods was I in?
In fairness to her, she got on her mobile (cell) ‘phone and made several calls eventually informing me that a driver friend of hers would be along as soon as he had finished his evening meal. No problem, time for another beer then.
Whilst researching this piece, as I always do, I have discovered that a le Tipi is so far out of Macon that it is not even technically in it but has a postal address in Sance. I didn’t know it at the time but it certainly makes the idea of the taxi very sensible in retrospect.
Another thing that strikes me now whilst revisiting my original notes and the images is that I was still following the old habits that I had acquired whilst writing for the wonderful Virtual Tourist website which was primarily tip / review based. I was taking lots of images of the minutiae of places I visited so I could write comprehensively about them.
I am still very much finding my way here as I am actually posting this in August 2018 although backdating it to the appropriate date and I still have not decided what way I want to run this site. The review writing was a great favourite of mine and a large part of why I was so fond of VT as I loved to share useful travel information. I am unsure whether to continue in that vein or write purely in a narrative blog style. I know it is my site, which I am still struggling to get my head around being so technophobic, but if anyone reading this has any comments on the subject I would be delighted to hear them.
I know I am never going to rival any of the myriad hotel / restaurant / bar review sites that are already so well-established as I have a mere 14 “followers” at time of writing and average about two “hits” a day but I do want to provide what people want to read and any and all constructive comments are welcomed. If full reviews are not to your liking, let me know but on the very off-chance that someone, somewhere might derive some benefit from them I shall carry on until people tell me it is boring and unnecessary or whatever. Please do not be shy, I can take criticism.
On that principle I shall tell you that “a le Tipi” is extremely friendly (as the main narrative hopefully proves), not overpriced for the area, spotlessly clean (including the “facilities” as pictured) and fully accessible with designated disabled parking. There is also plenty of room to sit outside although the weather wasn’t really up to it yet. OK, that is the review sorted so back to the narrative.
The off-duty taxi guy eventually turned up, drove me very well and safely to my hotel in about ten minutes and charged me over twice what it had cost me to get from Dijon! He wasn’t ripping me off, it was all on the meter. What a performance but I had learned for the next time.
The hotel, like so many low-cost business type places, was located in an industrial estate on the outskirts of town but it was pleasant enough. The room had a very strange sleeping arrangement with a double bed with a transverse bunk bed above. I had never seen anything like it before. There was little in the way of facilities with a few food / drink vending machines but the restaurant and bar they had made such play of on their website never opened the whole time I was there. Utterly bizarrely, amongst the items on sale was an assortment of microwave meals but search as I might there was no sign of a microwave. How did they work that one out?
After the travails of the day, I really didn’t fancy walking all the way back into town but I had seen what looked like a fairly decent restaurant literally across the road. In truth, there was a reasonable selection close by with all the major chains represented and a couple of Asian buffets but I opted for the Poivre Rouge (Red Pepper) and wandered the short distance there to dine on a very tasty rack of ribs with a baked potato and all washed down with some very acceptable French cider which I do rather like.
For reasons as explained above, here is a quick review of the Poivre Rouge. Service was quick, friendly and efficient although it was admittedly quiet this time on a Sunday evening, the establishment was spotless, the food excellent and presented pleasantly if simply and it was reasonably priced for the area. I am not sure how much English may be spoken here as I was still getting ludicrously over-confident with my newly remembered schoolboy French. It is obviously very family orientated as there was a decent looking kids play area and, if memory serves, a menu for children as well. Thankfully all les enfants were apparently tucked up for the night and so I had a peaceful meal in pleasant surroundings which was all I required. There you go, another “tip / review” slipped in but again,lease do let me know if you think it is superfluous as I can only make this site better if I know what people want.
With a full belly I retired for a relatively early night and certainly didn’t need much rocking. I have mentioned before in this blog about my eating and sleeping abnormalities so to manage both within an hour of each other was something of a coup. This trip was obviously doing me good in all sorts of ways.
In the next instalment I shall go exploring a town I had only ever heard of two days before so stay tuned and spread the word.