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Friday, 20 August 2010

Banyuls or Bust !

Have you ever stared down the barrel of a long week end away and thought : "Nah!I just don't fancy it?" Or :" Fancy it? I can't even pronounce it?!"
Well that's what was awaiting me last weekend when due to an invitation to attend a baptism, I had to bite the bullet and shut the hell up.
Our destination was Perpignan for all intents and purpose but more specifically a snoozing seaside village by the frontier of Spain called "Banyuls sur Mer".
We left at 6am and I unashamedly slept through the better,longer half of the drive awaking for a pit stop that involved croissants and a moment to re-align my spine.We made good time and got to a sunny Perpignan late morning,enough time to visit and grab some lunch.If you have never been to Perpignan and this is coming from someone who lives not far from the downtown thriving metropolis of Cannes.. it was a pleasure and a relief  to get away from the showy summer crowds and get with the locals in this lovely town. I will not get technical with the history of it all,as frankly I didn't delve into that whatsoever: I looked, shopped and ate in that order.
 We had lunch at a local restaurant called "VIP"...the name had nothing to do with pomp or glamour and more with some Catalan saying I didn't quite catch.We chose the "plat du jour" which consisted of a "piece de boeuf " home made mash and green beans." Saignant? (Rare)" asked the waitress. " Non. A point svp (medium)" we replied. And "saignant " it was.Now what piece of beef it was, still remains a mystery,I needed a hacksaw to cut through it and being rare...well,the end result looked like something out of the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
We were now but 40mns or so away from our final destination the "Thalacap Catalogne/Institut de Thalassotherapie" or as I fondly like to remember it as "Welcome to Shutter Island ".
Located on a cliff and over looking the sea , the building itself eerily looked very little like an "institut" and more like an institution, "Girl Interrupted "anyone? Once we got passed the basic of basic reception area ,we headed half heartedly to our cell,I mean room. To say that the decor was spartan would be like saying that Liberace's wardrobe came from H&M and I am using the word "decor" liberally here for lack of another one.Everything that needed to be there was in wrought iron,luckily the windows were spared. There was no a/c but thank heaven's for the electric fan that made enough ruckus to wake the dead and muffled the endless screams coming from the room above ...and I don't doubt the need for escape or sedation,but this came from a baby..go figure.  Now this would be the right time to say that we managed a room change to one identical , one floor up from garden level. Actually there was no garden to speak of other than boulders and cigarette butts, so the partial sea/ traffic view was somewhat of a relief. We did score a mini bar..OK an empty one,but one that enabled our tepid bottle of water to cool in a day and a half.
The bathroom came  complete with bathtub suffering from a mild case of mildew,but I must say it was clean,as was the sterile room. There was not one single product ,no bar of soap,no plastic shower cap,no mini shampoo or conditioner...nothing. What was left by the side of the sink was a tiny plastic bottle with a liquid soap that was labeled "for hands,face and body" as well as floors and walls.The toilet was the piece  de resistance, it was in a separate room with a rather large water boiler suspended ominously above it.Luckily we are not tall but even in sitting positions:knees hiked cheek to jowl , our heads barely skimmed the top of that blasted contraption. I can honestly tell you that when nature called,one went in with his life in his hands,heart aflutter.
The spa was surprisingly packed, with old and young folk alike,all could be seen shuffling to breakfast and all hours of the day in their "Thalacap"bathrobes and blue rubber slippers.Now if we were really lucky ,we would be regaled by the sight of full regalia including the rather fetching blue and white stripped cotton swim cap.Like that is a look anyone can get away with. We were given our kit on arrival: bathrobe,towels,swim cap and rubber slippers...and we returned it half an hour later.The clincher,like I needed one, was that men were not allowed to wear swim shorts but had to sport the rather fetching speedo/banana hammock ...now add a gold chain to that and a pompadour and one can almost picture me with a rather shorter version of Elvis.
You must be puzzled as to why we would book in a spa and so readily give up our rights to all facilities and treatments... because couldn't find any other place to stay.
On plus side , breakfast was included ...Joie de Vivre: not.
Outside of spa,the weekend was a blast!


Anonymous said...

So much fun and with out having to use your frequent flyer card - as for the so aptly named banana hammock, you would think after 4 years on the CDA that one would be used to the sight, yet when 'it' wanders off the sand onto tarmac the sight suddenly has you desperately scanning the horizon just so you don't make eye contact!Looking forward to future musings (just checked you can do it in the plural - what a relief!)Karen B

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