Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Random Bordeaux . . .

Some very quick notes because we're off on our bikes as soon as Pater finishes his tea. I love being able to come back to our charming house on Rue B for a nap after a busy morning wandering, but I also like to maximize our Bordeaux exploration time. Bit by bit, I'm also trying to write a longer, slightly more crafted piece, but there is so much to show and tell that I hope you'll bear with these smaller, looser snippets.

 

Recent excitements: we made a brilliant random find of a bar-cave yesterday. I'll divulge that bonne addresse later along with a description of the delicious lunch we enjoyed for the prix formule of 17 euros each. What I have time to tell you now, though, is how surprised I was, pushing open the cheery red door with WC Ici (toilet here) painted on it in jaunty yellow, to find that the toilet was Turkish style. I haven't seen or used one of those for a few years, and I was rather grateful for my runner's thighs. And very grateful, as I carefully placed my red Ferragamos, inherited from my mother as you might recall, in the foot-shaped ceramic platforms either side of the ceramic hole, that the white porcelain was very, very clean.

 

And I was grateful that I was not wearing these wide-legged white linen pants . .

In fact, these got their first outing yesterday when I realized they would solve the problem of what I could wear to the opera given that it was looking far too cool to wear the silk sleeveless shift I had counted on, even with the addition of a linen-silk shawl that "goes with." The cardigan I packed is the wrong colour, my coat a field jacket, and as the day progressed, it became increasingly obvious that I would have to wear my navy cashmere pullover no matter what with. This outfit isn't perfect, but given that we hadn't planned on attending opera here, and given that the audience was generally quite casually dressed for a final performance of the production's run, I felt good in this combo.

 

As for the opera itself, what a clever version of Mozart's La Flute Enchantée, set in a 60's mod Alpine setting, including cable cars and ski lifts, even a train that glided onto the stage at one point. The Queen of the night stumbled drunkenly out of a Klub, in a satin Marilyn Monroe gown, platinum hair and ultra-red lips complementing her coloratura brilliance. And when we weren't being dazzled by the singing and the costumes and the sets, we were thrilling to the opera house's immense chandelier, its gilt-accented rococo decor, and by the vertiginous view from our seats in the euphemistically termed Paradis. Colour me skeptical, but do door attendants really direct visitors to Paradise to take the stairs to the fifth floor? Not sure how that would fly back home, but we were very grateful to have scored the 40 euro seats for such a magnificent evening. And grateful we hadn't settled for the 8 euro ones, whose owners generally elected to stand if they wanted any chance of a view.

Off on our bikes now, but let me load up a few photos before I go. Some of Bordeaux's architectural-decorative charm, balconies, lacy wrought iron grillwork, and stonework embellishments everywhere. Enjoy!

 

Just curious: have you had to use a Turkish toilet? Would you, if confronted with one today, or would you squeeze and wait, if I may be so rude? It always strikes me, when traveling, how fortunate I am to take my bathroom comforts for granted most of the time.

 

15 comments:

  1. I grew up in Asia, where squat toilets were entirely the norm until recently. We travelled a lot when I was a child, always as backpackers rather than 'tourists', so I got very, very accustomed to them. When they're clean they don't bother me at all ...

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    1. That's how I feel as well. When they're clean, they strike me as making a lot of sense.

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  2. Eek!
    I think that toilet must be quite the challenge!
    Good for you that you have been in training for a few years...hooray for runners thighs !

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    1. These toilets are a good incentive to add some squats or lunges into the workout, for sure! ;-)

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  3. Hi Mater, I used one years ago at a rest stop on the autostrada in Italy - it was a bit of culture shock, but I used it. As Tiffany says, as long as it's clean. As it is, I spend as little time as possible in the cubicle when I have to go when on the road, and I'm a fanatic about keeping my bag etc. off the floor.

    I'm so glad for you that you weren't wearing your linen trousers!

    I really like the way your are travelling, ie spending a good amount of time in a place you have visited before. You can really enjoy living there.

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    1. I'm not sure how I would have kept all that trouser material out of the way . . .
      We like this way of travelling as well -- it's slower-paced and we're never going to get to all the places we might want to see, but we have a better chance, I think, of capturing the flavour of the spot we're in. Slow Travel! ;-)

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  4. When we travel to Europe we go via Dubai airport. They have a few pedestal facilities if you are prepared to wait, but most are the hole in the floor variety. They require attention to technique and I have become adept.
    When travelling in the less touristy parts of China, it was a good start if there was a door to the cubicle let alone western style facilities. All part of the travel experience!
    Lilibet

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    1. Well put: attention to technique! Precisely.
      Funny the bathroom-ing differences that travel illuminates. I do like a cubicle, but then I find the ceiling-to-floor doors of narrow European cubicles a bit frighteningly claustrophobic and often worry who will notice if I can't manage to unlock. . . ;-)

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  5. My first experience with squatters was in France, back in the 80s. I learned which of the cafés near my school had the cleanest ones, and gave them my business.

    I also had lots of "practice" when I traveled to Asia on a regular basis -- even found some in Japan, where they were the polar opposite of the posh ones with the heated seats, water jets for cleaning the delicate bits, and "modesty bells" which provided a loop of flushing sounds so that your neighbors wouldn't hear you. I never understood that -- what else would you be doing in the bathroom? Why would you be offended if you heard someone else doing it?

    My sister in Shanghai said that last year when she and the kids flew back to the States for summer vacation her youngest (4 at the time) informed her that she wanted to use a "sit potty" in the U.S. (or possibly Canadian -- can't remember the route) airport, and was surprised to learn that they were ALL sit potties. How quickly we humans adapt to our surroundings!

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    1. Chuckling at your claim to have given those cafes your business . . .pun intended?
      I do think there is a lot of silliness around some bathroom modesty, although I must admit I am very used to a closed door . . .

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  6. I'd say you looked casually chic and just right for an evening out!

    As for Turkish toilets, many say it is a-shall we say- more anatomically enabling posture for an efficient process. Sometimes, though, the hole is so small as to be daunting and evidently not just for me. One of my travel savvy friends carries shoe covers (like many salons etc here hand out in winter to slip over boots) and then disposes of them in a wastebin.

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    1. Thanks k. I was pleased with the note I think I hit here, given the restrictions and the weather failing to cooperate. I wish I lived somewhere where the linen pants made more sense. I do love the way they feel, the lifestyle they evoke for me . . .
      And I must agree, the size of the hole suggests that technique is all important. And the mess I have seen around those holes in the past suggests that some users haven't developed theirs yet. . .

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  7. Your linen pants are great for an unexpected evening out. Bathrooms are all different and part of the travel experience.

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    1. I could have worn my skinny jeans with the heels and called that dressy enough, but the white linen felt much more festive. And sud-ouest

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  8. I haven't used a turkish toilet but I've peed behind a bush in the woods often enough, so while agreeing that cleanliness helps, I think I could handle one.

    Love the balcony railings - so many wonderful patterns.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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