Monday, 31 March 2008

saying a final goodbye to Bordeaux.

It's funny how you don't appreciate things until after you're gone. I felt quite ready to leave Bordeaux, but now that I'm not there anymore, I miss it quite a lot. I thought I was just travelling, and I am of course, but now I realise that I actually had made inroads into building a little life for myself there and letting that go is a little sad.

But back to the last week. Unfotunately a lot of it's quite hazy because on Sunday my laptop went bung, and it turns out I really rely on it for everything. EVERYTHING. Including taking notes for things (like what's happened this week). Paper? Pen? What are they?

But before that, I spent Sunday and Monday in the city with Kara and Andrew. We wandered around and went back for another mint tea by the St Michel markets. Despite the fact that it was Easter Sunday, there was actually more stuff open in the city, I guess because people were out and about a bit more for the long weekend. I went into the shop with the lovely dress I wanted, only to find it was so cheap (100 coffees) because it actually was made of three separate parts, and each one was 100 coffees. Not so cheap after all. Kara and I had dinner in a proper French restaurant which was great, because I've been doing my best to eat on the cheap. I had something called 'tournedos' which was a fillet of beef tied into a round shape. The French cook their meat much rarer than in Australia - I ordered it medium ('a point') and it was very very red, but it was also one of the best pieces of meat I've ever eaten, and the restaurant wasn't anything special - just a normal nice cafe/restau. I guess you just have to accept that the French know how to cook things, get over your Anglo fear of blood and get on with the enjoying.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday were spent taking the computer to the repairer, which was all a bit of a palaver, but in the end we found an authorised macman, who was a real pro, and fixed it under the computer warranty which really saved me a LOT of hassle. I am even more convinced that macs are the way to go now. Not only did it not completely die in the face of real adversity, the warranty was genius, and the guy was able to type my serial number into a computer and see picture of exactly what the guts of my computer look like. Magic! And even though I'm on the other side of the world, I didn't have to pay a cent. I had a funny experience driving to see him though (the company was in the sticks). We drove past a KFC and my host mother said (in French): 'Oh hey! A KFC! I've heard of that....'. What. The. Apparently it's not very big here. I hadn't even noticed.

On Thursday I tried to make inroad into the list of things I wanted to do before I left Bordeaux. I went to the magic haberdashery shop and spent way too much money on some gorgeous beads and buttons and the most beautiful (and expensive) ribbon I've ever seen. I finished the macaron project, and even went back and redid some of the photos that I wasn't happy with. I went to the Place de Parliament (the funky end of town I disovered late in the piece) and explored a bit. I went and did my best to look in the Grand Theatre. I couldn't get very far, bit it was very interesting because the foyer is all sandstone on the inside, just like the outside and it feels like being in an old Roman building or something. I'm sure the actual auditorium is the opposite becuase I've now seen pictures and it looks lavishly decorated and incredible, and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see anything there. I caught up with Holli (another Australian) for a last coffee and bought my ticket to Lyon (15 coffees. Bar-gain). In the evening I went to Kara's and she made me a lovely dinner. I tried 4 French cheeses, fromage blanc, and she made a lovely daal. It was so nice to hang out in someones home, and have a lovingly cooked meal. On my way home, I saw another hedgehog! I wish they would come out in the day so I could take a picture...

On Friday for lunch, I had the most amazing crepe. We went to this little crepe place, and I got a crepe filled with andouille sausage, artichokes, mushrooms and cheese, and it must've been 10cm high! I also had a dessert crepe with home made salted caramel sauce and it was absolutely delicious!

On Saturday I continued with my Bordeaux list. I went to La Poste, and got a little further on my discovery of how it works. It turns out if you send something in a soft envelope (as opposed to a box), it's considered a 'letter' (regardless of the contents) and you don't have to fill in a declaration of what's inside, and you get charged about 1/10 the price. Oy vey the French. I went across the bridge to take some photos of the city. It was a beautiful day and a lovely thing to do, but unfortunately the photos didn't turn out because of all the sun. I went to Mollat (the big bookstore) and looked at the Nez du Vin book, and also at the new 'Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band' cd, simply because that really must be the best band name ever. I had lunch at the Utopia cinema (since I ran out of time to actually see a movie there). I had a nice salad, and it's a beautiful place - converted out of an old church with stained glass windows everywhere. At 4, the gang met up at the local English pub to watch the Oxford/Cambridge rowing race (apparently it's a big deal) and then we went for dinner at a nice little restaurant. I had a gorgeous goat cheese salad (lovely soft chevre, mixed lettuce, walnuts and honey) and then a chicken dish ('Basque-style') which reminded me of Mum's chicken a la Bronhill only not so good (which still makes it pretty good). A lemon cake for dessert with creme anglaise, tilleul tisane (lime blossom tea, just like Proust!) and then a digestif of chilled Manzana which is an apple liqueur. And all for about 10 coffees! It was really great to hang around with all of the people that I've gotten to know in Bordeaux (Nathalie & her husband, Kara, Andrew, Holli, Amy and a few others) and it was a lovely relaxing way to finish my visit.

On Sunday I was up early for my train (and because the start of daylight savings made it even worse) and to spend a little time with the family saying goodbye. Although they could be quite exhausting, the kids were really lovely and sweet and I actually quite miss them. I guess there's nothing like kids climbing all over you to make you feel at home, and seeing how excited they got each time I walked in the door was a nice feeling.

On the train I had too much luggage and it was an imperial pain in the neck.When I left home I took as much as I could because I knew I'd be living away for some time, but now I wish I'd brought one change of clothes and a toothbrush. The train ride was 7.5 hours long, and it was quite nice because (although I tried) I found I could do much without risking feeling motion sick, so it turned out to be enforced quiet thinking time. Watching the countryside go by was nice too, although it's like Australia and once you've seen half an hour of it, it doesn't change much. Everything is just coming out of winter here so there were lots of grey trees and woods, but the grass is the most luminous, lurid green I've ever seen. And they think they're in a drought!

So goodbye Bordeaux! It really is a beautiful, small, clean, safe, and pretty pretty pretty city and I'm glad I got to spend so much time there. I think it was a good introduction to France.

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