Monday, September 21, 2015

A (Busy!) Day in our Bordeaux Life

It's a very dreary day here in Bordeaux this morning although the rain's been dialed down to a sprinkle from the waterfall that pelted us awake last night with some serious percussion on the bedroom skylight. A good day for staying in and writing up a blogpost or two. This might be the most appealing aspect of a longer visit to a faraway city--with a wealth of days at our disposal, we have the luxury of spending the occasional one on a down day. I expect we'll be out of our pyjamas (so glad I packed a pair! And I bought Paul a pair of cotton pj bottoms at H&M here, so we're lounge-ready) by mid-morning. Perhaps earlier if we decide a foray for croissants and coffee would be worthwhile. Otherwise, we will likely get out for lunch, then a walk to make sure we're ready for a nap... Some reading, perhaps some yoga, a recovery day overall, at Mother Nature's gentle suggestion.

But we generally plan a bit more energetically, and since Lynn asked how we organize our days, I thought I'd give a few examples of our different approaches. 

Let's begin with last Thursday, which exemplifies an over-planned day which, nonetheless, was both successful (in the sense that it ticked off several of our overall goals for this visit) and enjoyable.

10a.m until noon, a guided walking tour of Bordeaux's centre. Paul had stopped in the Tourist Office a few days earlier to buy tickets for this tour, choosing the French version for the opportunity to practice our listening/comprehension skills. We were well aware that we'd probably miss a fair bit, but we generally find that such guides speak a clear French that we can follow enough. This was the case, especially as an older member of the group, also working in a second language we think, kept asking our guide to slow down. I was gratified to understand about 3/4 of the very informative tour, perhaps thanks to a familiarity built up over the last few years of visiting here. We rarely join group tours, but we will sign up for another, based on how much we learned in such an engaging manner.
Lunch next, and we chose a Brasserie in our quartier. I think I'll save for another post any description of how and why we choose where to eat, but we deliberately chose easy and close to home last Thursday. All in French as well, since the brasserie isn't really on a tourist route.


 
We chose to lunch close to home because we had booked a French lesson at 2:30. Franchement, this was not ideal, an aneurism of a bulge in the day's schedule, but our tutor had offered the time only the day before as the only possibility for the week, and we decided it was worth stretching to grab the opportunity. (To answer Sue's question, left in comments here, we first found a French tutor through my friend Lesley, who's also responsible for us being in Bordeaux at all, and for the connection to the house we rent. And this all came about because of blogging, one blogger extending a very generous invitation to her city to another blogger, who gratefully accepted and has kept coming back. Perhaps they wonder now if we'll ever leave! I've blogged about this before)


 
Our lesson went until after 5, and I must say that my usual afternoon slump was intensified by the glass of wine I'd had at lunch, and some of the morning's  exhilaration at following the tour guide's lecture was dissipated by my clumsy attempts to m'exprimer. I would have done much better with a nap!
Window, above, and organ, below, of St Seurin.

 
But no time for naps! We'd been invited to a new friend's home for l'apéro (again, thank you, Lesley, for the introduction) and we're delighted to find this new friend lives just round the corner. She's a Scotswoman, although fluently bilingual, and honestly, we were very  relieved to lapse back into the comfort of English. After a very pleasant hour or so sipping and nibbling and getting to know each other in A's charming flat, she invited us to add an unplanned element to our day.


 
So a day which had already been very full, through planning, got full to bursting, through a Serendipity which only a fool would refuse. And we're not that foolish. Our willingness to ignore fatigue was well rewarded by an introduction at a very special, rather idiosyncratic wine bar that we would never have dared enter on our own, despite it being only 4 or 5 blocks away. To go in on our own would have felt a bit like entering the livingroom of a home whose owner we didn't know, who had left the front door open during a party. La Cave de La Course is a wonderfully intimate establishment to have discovered, and I hope to tell you more about it later. We went back Saturday evening for a few hours of live jazz, but on our over-scheduled Thursday we joined 8 or 10 other patrons to listen to the folk singing of an ex-pat English woman who's made Bordeaux home for a few years.

We hung in until about 9:30 and then said Bonne Soirée à Tous and ambled home, tired but content after a very full day.

As you must be tired, if you've hung in this far. The sky's lightening a bit here, and we've roused ourselves enough to plan a possible spot for lunch and a few tentative possibilities for museums/exhibitions we
Might pop into this afternoon.  I'm just going to choose some photos to accompany this post, and then get myself showered and dressed (can you believe I started writing this about 8:30 and I'm only just finishing at 10:30!!!)

I hope I've given an idea of how we approach planning our days while travelling. Another example coming soon. Meanwhile, I wish you a Happy Tuesday! And maybe you'll tell me how my travel day-planning compares to yours...

21 comments:

  1. Though that sounds like a very full day, I envy the relaxed and slower pace of most of your visit. Our trips are still so short and there's so much we want to see...but we're learning to try to keep at least one completely unscheduled day in every location to either rest up or just wander and see what crosses our path. I'm really enjoying your images of Bordeaux...they really evoke the feel of the place.

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    1. We're very lucky in the length of our time away. I'm very impressed by how much you two fit into the time available, especially consider how much you juggle on the work and family fronts. . .

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  2. What an intensive life you are living in Bordeaux! And bilingual,too! Wow! I'm sure that you are speaking french fluently! I liked guided tours before( if a guide is good,there are a lot of different experiences),now they are to fast for me,but a boat or bus guided tour is still very nice to take (usually in english,sometimes in german)
    In Hungary and Greece it was a must,because I didn't understand a word said or written.
    A little party never killed nobody.....so,me too,I would accept everything and drop dead (first one....:-))
    So good to have a little rain and take it easy :-)
    My next trip will be London and I plan it very lazy,with a lot of hedonistic stops and spots :-)
    Here is beautiful sunny day, last grape picking and wine making in my small family vineyard. It was my parents hobby but we can't find people to take care of it any more .Every end is beginning of something new! A couple of fruit trees are already here
    My time out is finished,have to go.....
    I wish you more sunny days
    Dottoressa

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    1. Oh, Dottoressa, how kind you are, but sadly, we're far from fluently bilingual. . . One of my fondest wished!

      Perhaps we can come and help you with the grape harvest one year --I promise we'd work hard!😉 it must be hard to think of letting your family vineyard go, but, as you say, in every end a beginning.
      And your wish for more sunny days for us has borne fruit, thank you!

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    2. You will be very welcome:-),it will be apple harvest (even better! ) with a picnic !
      Dottoressa

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  3. It sounds like a very intense and busy day, but well worthwhile. I would have been sorely dragging by the conclusion of that French language, perhaps not even coherent in my native tongue.

    But it all sounds wonderful and it is a gift to have time to schedule slower days to allow mind and body to relax, recuperate, and regenerate interest for new activities.

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    1. You guessed it, Mardel. I was reduced to a burble, scarcely any language at all! I have to trust parts of my brain were filing away useful code even as I flagged....

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  4. That made me rather tired...but it must have been a wonderful day. Bordeaux is such a beautiful city. Have you been to Dijon? If not (and if you have the time) it is well worth a visit. Delicious food too. I bet you could get a train - nothing nicer than a foreign train journey.

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    1. We spent a day in Dijon with the kids 25 years ago, and I have fond, sunny, impressionistic memories involving a bridge and a toy store where I bought a doll for my daughter's birthday. So many places in France and beyond we need to get to. And you're so right about the train journeys. We have one coming up in a few weeks...

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  5. I'm certainly not wondering if you will ever leave — quite the opposite! And I love to matchmake, people and places, friends and other friends.

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    1. Thank you! You're such a wonderful, generous connector, and I'm so pleased to be your friend. If I'd got nothing else from these years of blogging, that would be enough reward. Xo

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  6. Wow. That photo with the cars lining the street, and the blue sky above the church at the end, beautiful. This sounds like a veritable adventure, of the sort that - maybe - only later life allows.

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    1. So glad you like that. I took it specifically with you in mind, looking for vistas. <3

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  7. What a day! I sometimes say "My French stomach is bigger than my French brain". I sign on for 'everything in French' but then my brain is fried- it's •work• to absorb two languages. You have great endurance!

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    1. That's a great expression! Funny, because at the market the other day I was thinking of one my mom used to say, "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach." Not the same at all, of course, nor even parallel, but there's a connection, no?

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  8. What a full day! The luxury of a longer stay is precisely that you can spend time catching up with reading and writing as you wish. It's fun that you have a network of Bordeaux friends to offer you different opportunities. That afternoon slump has become part of my life but I think it has to do with early rising. Lovely photos!

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    1. As I type this, I'm sitting up in bed, in the late afternoon, with a cup of tea, after a yummy nap. I'm an early riser as well, and when I can sneak in a little siesta, I'm much happier!

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  9. Thank you -- it's nice to know about a mix of planned and unplanned events. I love the luxury of staying in one place long enough to see more than the tourist highlights. We usually try to rent an apartment and stay for at least a week when we can. It has led to some interesting experiences, but we have great stories! Those are lovely photos.
    Lynn

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    1. Thanks for asking the question, Lynn. Answering it turns out to be a good way of organizing a few posts. I like to spend at least 5 days in a spot if I can, more if there is enough around to see and do. And renting an apartment is a great way to settle in and feel part of your new surroundings.

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing an example of your travel experiences. Beth

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    1. You're so welcome, Beth. Thanks for taking that moment to comment!

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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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