22 June 2006, Biarritz Part 1

Here we are at the Hotel Plaza Mercure Centre (or whatever order they choose to list those words). It was clearly the Hotel Plaza until the Mercure people (part of the worldwide Accor network) acquired it rather recently, so it has both nice modern Mercure amenities (e.g., a real, tiled, enclosed shower and free WiFi throughout) and lovely Art Deco Plaza decor. The views from our balcony are wonderful—in one direction the Atlantic, part of the beach, and the ornate casino; in another, the little square in front of the tourist office; straight across, the large windows of the mayor's office, where functionaries can be seen typing busily at their computers.

View of Biarritz View of Biarritz It took about 18 hours to get here. We caught a 3:30 p.m. flight out of Tallahassee, then spent a long layover in Atlanta having dinner, shopping for books, and reading. Finally, at 9:30 p.m., we left for Paris, where we connected easily with our flight to Biarritz, even though Charles deGaulle airport is perennially under construction and very confusingly signposted.

The first actual hitch appeared when we arrived at Biarritz, about 3:00 p.m., but our luggage didn't. About 20 other people were also still standing forlornly around the carousel when it ground to a halt without delivering our bags. We joined the line at the "baggage services" desk, where each lost bag took a very long time to report, describe, and enter into the system. But the lady was unfailingly friendly and helpful and gave each of us a little duffle bag containing deodorant, folding hairbrush, razor and shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste, q-tips, cotton balls, detergent, and a large, white cotton t-shirt with "Air France" discreetly stenciled on one sleeve.

It was 4:30 p.m. before we were able to get a taxi here to the hotel, and a call to the central luggage number after the recommended one-hour delay brought news that they've found both of my bags, which will be delivered here tomorrow morning, but that David's is still missing. Unfortunately, it's the one containing our only working electrical-plug adapter (the two I packed don't fit) and the charger/downloader for the digital camera. Here's hoping it turns up soon.

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