Ethic Etapes Angers

Good morning everyone, hope everyone is having a good Friday thankfully it’s the weekend tomorrow! I hope you all have some plans… I will be impressed if some of you are out on your bikes, feel free to post pictures in the comments below of you all on your bikes!

I hope you all liked the last blog post (sorry it was so long ago, life seems to have got in the way) and hope it managed to make some of you smile (I know it made my daddy chuckle!) as you can see Dan and I are slowly catching up on blog posts, real life and this over whelming desire to sleep seem to keep getting in the way. Dan and I have christened this desire to get so much sleep a ‘bike hangover’ if you too have ever felt this you have my full sympathies!

I am afraid this isn’t going to be such an amusing post as the last one, but we will be back on funny form soon telling you all about our day cycling to Largeon. Today instead I am going to quickly tell you about the hotel in Angers. I know most of it was said in the last post but there are a few things I felt the need to mention.

Despite its basic-ness I did enjoy staying in this hotel and if you are ever in the area I promise you won’t find a more relaxing location, we were right by the lake and surrounded by trees and open spaces it was lovely. There were no cars, in fact despite the fact that the main by-pass was quite close there was no car noise at all, from the location of the hotel I would think that I was in the country and not a big city. However if it is city life that you are wanting you can walk back into the city centre in less than 15 mins, so really  you have the best of both worlds. Although we didn’t look into it as we were only at the hotel for one night and were rather sleepy I believe that activities can be arranged such as sailing things etc (wow can’t you tell I am an out-door girl… not!).

As for the hotel itself it is slightly basic, so if you are looking for a holiday with luxury this maybe isn’t the hotel for you! The check in desk, bar and breakfast area as well as communal seating area are all in a different building to what our room was in. Checking in was a slight challenge as the gentleman on the desk once again spoke no English which wasn’t too much of a problem, however his computer system having gone down earlier in the day was a little more of a problem. I simply had to find my name on a piece of paper of people due to check in that day and then assure them that it was me!!!

The walk to our building was not far and we were given a code number to unlock the door to the building after 9pm (not that we planned on going out we were feeling a little like zombies at this stage!) Of course our favourite part was the kennels for our bikes to keep them dry overnight! I thought that was a genius idea, can’t say I had ever seen it before but I felt very happy leaving my bike there and knowing it would be safe all night long.

The little bike huts!

The little bike huts!

As for the room itself, yes it was basic yet spacious (mostly likely as our suspicions were correct and we had been given a disabled room). It had two single beds, a wardrobe and a desk, in the bathroom there was a walk in shower with seat, a ridiculously high toilet and basin, along with numerous grab rails… like we said we did have the slight suspicions that it was a disabled room, I don’t know what gave it away…  But saying that after all the cycling we had done and the way our limbs and bottoms were feeling the high toilet, seat in the shower and grab rails were very muchly appreciated!

The beds were very comfortable, which if you are staying at this hotel and intend for an ‘adventure’ holiday that is exactly what you want. We both slept really well, but then again there wasn’t much option other than to sleep in this room as the Ethic Etape hotels do NOT come with televisions in the room, they believe you should share the experience by conversing with the others in your room rather than watching tv. Therefore if you are there are your own I hope you like your own company! Although we cheated and found a way round that by watching a film on the iPad…. bad Nikki and Dan breaking the Ethic Etape rule!

Next morning breakfast was disappointing to say the least… the picture below says it all….

Just so you know that spoon is a TEASPOON

Just so you know that spoon is a TEASPOON

So as you can imagine after that wholesome and filling breakfast we managed to cycled really far before needing to refuel again… NOT. We actually made it a grand total of about 2 miles. Therefore my recommendation for this hotel if you are going to stay is find somewhere else to have breakfast or take your own. Now I can not comment on the cost of the hotel as obviously they were very generous to donate the room and the breakfast free of charge, however I did notice while checking in that for normal guests (yes that’s right I don’t class us as normal!) breakfast was charged at 5 euros, which I personally would not have been happy paying based on how shocking breakfast was. Now in case people are thinking we just didn’t fill our bowls up very much and therefore that isn’t a true representation on breakfast, rest assured everyone, everything you see in that picture is all there was available!

Overall we slept well, and it was such a lovely peaceful environment and the bikes were 100% safe over night, the only disappointment was breakfast and the slightly thin walls, however if those are things you think you could cope with then we full recommend a stay in the Ethic Etapes in Angers.

Nikki & Dan

Day 7 – Green eggs and ham… well, it almost was!

Hi Everybody,

No, we haven’t gone crazy, no, we haven’t got lost (again), no, we are not still on our way to Angers. What with the exhaustion of the last few days of cycling, then the want of a holiday while abroad, writing blog entries was the last thing on our minds. So, we are catching up with them now we are home to tell you about the last few days of our adventure.

Day 6 saw us cycling from the lovely french town of Vitre into the large city of Angers. If we’re being honest, it was not the most exciting cycling day ever. The roads were long and monotonous and it was pretty much one road all the way down, and yes, there were hills! With Nikki’s knee starting to swell, you can bet how happy she was about those! The real “adventure” started when we arrived in Angers…

Angers was a busy bustling city that we had to try to navigate our way round. After about half an hour of constant stopping, checking the map, turning round, and indecisions, we were finally crossing the right bridge on route to the Rue de Lac du Maine. About half way across the bridge, Nikki suddenly got very excited and pulled out the camera, much to a puzzled faced Dan. All become clear when Dan looked over the bridge to see two Frenchmen playing, wait for it… French horns!

The whole concept did make Nikki smile, even if their playing was quite bad. It turned out Angers is a rather musical city, but more on that later. The route to the hotel took us through a large parkland in the centre of the city. We have to say it was a lovely sunset view, and the park was full of cycle paths. In the heart of the park was the etape hotel, a hotel chain much like Premiere Inn, however this was an Ethic Etape. The whole place revolved round eco-technology and green practices such was walking or cycling rather than using cars, making sure electricity wasn’t wasted, etc. The hotel itself was lovely, although it did give off a slight youth hostel feel. We were both however very impressed with their bike storage facility. Our poor abused bikes each got their own little kennel for the night.

After making sure both bikes were tucked in warm and snug for the night, we went to check out our room. Our room was a little basic to say the least, but was a good size and had everything we needed. From the height of the toilet (yep, it always comes back to that!) and the grab rails everywhere, we had the slight suspicion that we had been given a disabled persons room, but oh well at least it had two beds which is all we really needed. By this point, we had realised we were starving, but town was a 15 minute cycle away which neither of us were prepared to do, after all, our bikes looks so snug and warm. Thinking the bar would still be open, we walked over to the main building where were were greeted with the sight of one closed bar, two vending machines of chocolate, and three french men who were staring at us. We quickly ran back to our room. So that left us with the puzzle of how do you feed two tired cyclists without leaving the confines of the hotel room? The answer, ring Nikki’s French speaking brother. Alas it turned out that Nikki’s French speaking brother was at a family meal, so back to square one. The solution to our problem was internet pizza! Why didn’t we think of that sooner? (For those concerned that we broke our no spending policy, we used the donated “Magic Mastercard“). Our craving for Pizza had been started the previous night. On the way to Vitre we were both running on empty and in serious need of food! We found a town 15 miles outside of Vitre and found that the only place open was a pizza parlour. The UK mainly only have tomato based pizzas, however here they had white pizzas, that being a pizza whose base is topped with creme fraiche. This combined with beef hache, onions, potato, and cheese was AMAZING!!!!
Now, in the UK, provided you speak English, ordering a pizza online is easy. In France, provided you speak french, ordering a pizza online is easy. This is where it got difficult. We were in France, but we speak English (surprisingly enough). Not so easy. But fear not citizens of the blog, there was an internet superhero ready to lend a helping hand! Google Translate! Turns out that if Google translate was a superhero, its special power would be the power of anti-climax. We had found a pizza place in Angers which delivered and set google translate to work on translating the site so we could understand it. It would seem that if traveling, Google Translate isn’t your best companion! Here are the four steps to ordering a pizza according to google…
Despite how google had translated it, we continued trying to order in the hopes that we wouldn’t be betrayed, and we would have pizza in half an hour. The good news is within half an hour, our pizza arrived. The bad news is, this is what it looked like…
Yes, I did taste as horrid as it looks, however we were that hungry that we still managed to demolish it within ten minutes, but not before finding a little frenchman’s hair in it, leading it to be christened as “Mr Fluffy”. Clearly the French don’t have the same strict food hygiene laws that the UK has. To continue eating we really must have been hungry! We’d also like to point out that the pizza came with a salad and a portion of chips. Turns out the salad was lettuce in a box, and the chips were ready salted crisps. The best parts of this meal were the only bits that had not been prepared at the pizza place; these were the two cans of peach flavoured iced tea.
Now, back to what we were saying about Angers being a musical city. While finishing off the remains of the fury pizza (or at least as much as we could stomach after that find), we discovered how thin the walls of the hotel were. Now, we can only assume that the only explanation for this is that her neighbours had kicked her out for being too loud, so she’d checked into a hotel to practice, but in the next room there was a girl learning to play…. We’d like to say something soothing like the harp or the triangle, but alas… the violin! The one instrument that has the power to soothe the senses or grate at the nerves, and you can guess which of the two a novice does! The way things were sounding, by the morning our nerves would look like something from a zombie horror film! But we had a secret weapon! A secret weapon in the form of the iPad! Not only was this magical piece of technology here to enable blog writing, but it was also connected to the internet, and via iCloud could access my entire iTunes music library. It also has several tv episode loaded on, and The Inbetweeners movie . Now, Nikki is not a fan of The Inbetweeners, however the film did make her giggle as she succumb to the effects of her comma tablet. The tablet was the root of several amusing incidents along the trip, much like when Nikki had taken it at this hotel, Dan knew within a few seconds due to her tone of voice, even though she tried to deny that she had taken it. We think the violinist took the hint and shut up, allowing us to get some sleep.
As you can imagine, it’s not the 5 star luxury we’ve been becoming accustomed to, we’re doing all the hard work so you just have the easy job of donating at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge.
Thank you
Nikki & Dan
xx

And so it begins…

Oh my gosh the day of days has arrived! All those months of planning and in a few short hours we will be on our way! My stomach is feeling slightly full of butterflies but at the same time I am so excited to get started. We hope that quite a few of you are going to be able to turn out today to see us set off, or even if you just wave at us on route.

I guess for the next 9 days me and my bike are going to become the best of friends, though how much I am still going to like Betty after she has killed my legs and bottom is still to be decided!!

Yesterday we got all our packing done so I think we are ready to go, if there is anything you think I desperately need but might have forgotten or not even though about please message me ASAP. Thank you. Though I have to say I feel as though my bike looks like this: (actually let me re-phase that and say I think DAN’S bike looks like this)

One fully loaded bike!

One fully loaded bike!

But then again I was the one in charge of getting the first aid ready and I am not saying I am a hypochondriac or anything, but the first aid kit was starting to look a little more like this:

Well you never know what might go wrong!

Well you never know what might go wrong!

Fingers crossed we won’t need it! Well I am sorry this is only going to be a quick post, I can’t stay on long due to the whole setting off today thing, but what I did want to do most importantly is say some very big THANK YOU’S! There have been some amazingly generous people out there, and not just the people who have sponsored us on our Virgin money giving page but those as well who have helped us in other ways such as those lovely people who have come along to our events and bought tickets and played the raffle etc and all those amazing people who have put money into our collection tins.

We would also like to thank Kathryn and Jim for donating  a French Supermarket voucher, The staff at Spar, Barrowford for having a collection between them so we have another English voucher for food, Emily and Charlotte again for food vouchers! Also like to thank Gayle for putting us up tonight, Michael for putting us up tomorrow night, Ethos hotel in Oxford for our third night and Mandy in Basingstoke for our fourth. We would also like to say thank you to Doreen in Congleton for agreeing to make us a packed lunch today as we pass, Steven and Tracey Henderson in Pangbourne for doing the same, and Jim and Frieda in Portsmouth for making us one last meal before we get on the Ferry.

As far as France is concerned we have a big thank you to say to Colette at Le Petit Billot in Vitre, to the staff at the Etape Hotel in Angers as well as Keith and Jocelyn in Lageon for both putting us up and making us a meal as well as the wonderful people at Rimbard Manor for everything they are doing to make our last day as perfect as possible!

Finally I have another big thank you, however this one is a little different as I am not sure who to thank. However we would both like to say the BIGGEST thank you possible to the amazingly kind anonymous donater who has sent us £90 on a prepaid MasterCard for us to use as food money along the way! It is safe to say any worries I had about not getting the right amount of food in me have now vanished. Honestly we can not thank you all enough, it means the world to us!

We hope to see you all on route and please if you haven’t done so already please consider donating towards this amazing charity! You can do so at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge thank you!

Nikki xx