1. Take off running from your hotel without name and address of the place, don't even lock your room.
2. Don't bother taking a cell phone, but the camera is a must! You'll need it to record your adventure.
3. No time for breakfast or snacks. Just go, go, go. Have fun!
4. If after a couple hours of wandering you begin to feel hungry, tired, or lost, revive your high school language skills and begin to interact with the locals--an enriching experience.
5. Don't forget to take dozens of photos, there are fascinating sights everywhere you turn--quaint houses, historic architecture, parks, statues, people...
6. IF you eventually admit you are truly LOST and begin to worry about those who may be worried about you, go to the Tourism Office and ask for HELP.
7. With city map in hand, be aware of your surroundings at every turn.
8. Arrive at destination and apologize to ALL for suddenly and selfishly abandoning them in your wander lust!
Yes, this is what I did on the day of the guys big cycling event.
It all happened so quickly--the guys gathered on their bikes, off they went and so did I, running after them!
They had given the impression that the start was not that far away.
The women had not made a firm plan. There was talk of sleeping in, or maybe following the guys. Anyway, I thought we were on our own. I did, however, disregard Mike's last words, "Go with Edurne." Actually it was already too late, she had run after them, and she can really run!
As I was jogging, following the cyclists, I thought, "This is such a straight shot down, I could never get lost."
However, when you turn around to go back in the direction you came from, everything looks different. Suddenly there are forks in the road, the market stalls are being set up, people are milling about. The city as you remembered it is no longer there. After a few turns, shortcuts, and going around in circles, you lose all sense of direction. At one point I realized I had wandered into the next town.
But, hey, I DID get to video the hundreds of cyclists from a strategic corner. I was feeling so disappointed about missing the mass start, when I saw a whole line of patrol cars labeled La Pyrénéenne, followed by many official motorcycles and then the unending stream of riders whizzing by.
And an hour later, I talked to two women waiting for their men to come by in the second start, those doing the shorter route. I recorded that as well, because one from our group of friends was planning on that ride.
Here are some of the treasures from my adventure.
Every French town has a monument to honor their fallen.
...and lovely parks.
Old ornate churches...
...and a simpler Protestant church, the only one I saw in our European adventures.
And wonderful people!
This 84 year old man led me to my next landmark. He was fascinated by my world jacket; he had been a geography teacher for 30 years.
I had my geography and life lesson for the day.