Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Travel Planning by M. Random et Mme. Serendipity

Last post was heavy on words, giving an example of one approach to organizing our days here in Bordeaux: three scheduled activities involving other people and demanding we engage in French, morning, afternoon, and evening. Rewarding, enjoyable, but I'd  be lying if I didn't add "exhausting."
At the market, flower van in sunshine in front of us as we ate our crêpes

 
Sometimes we might follow a day like this with a day of nothing much beyond reading, eating, and perhaps some ambling in the neighbourhood.
Friendly vendor agrees to a photo with her wonderful cheeses

 
But we sometimes recharge with a day that involves considerable physical activity while allowing our minds to relax and requiring only limited social engagement. We've had two such days this week, each combining markets and cycling, but our "planning" for the two differed a bit. On Sunday morning, our only firm plan for the day was to get to the weekly market down by the river. Ambling home, happily replete after our crèpes (caramel beurre salé for me, citron sucrée for him, every time), we decided we'd go for a bit of a bike ride and bring along a picnic lunch; a park we'd discovered not too far away seemed a good destination. But Paul went off to pick up bottled water, leaving me home to make a picnic of our market purchases, and by the time he came home, I'd remembered the Cité Frugès, and our day had suddenly become much more ambitious.
A bit tricky to follow each direction on the iPhone, but so much easier than trying to fold and unfold a paper map...

I'd learned about this Corbusier-designed workers' village in nearby Pessac a couple of years ago through this post on Tim Pike's blog, Invisible Bordeaux, but somehow it slipped off the must-see list despite its obvious architectural interest. Public transit is very good here in Bordeaux, but the time expended on it versus the attractions of the destination never seemed a solid enough equation.
Most of the homes have been restored and are currently occupied, but a few are for sale, wanting a bit of loving care...
As a cycling destination, though.... Some quick research (thank you, Google maps!) showed a 13-kilometre route. Sunny weather, but not too hot, on a Sunday so that city traffic might not be too heavy... Carpe diem, indeed! By the time Paul came back, the decision was made, and an hour and a half later (Google Maps is great, but stopping to consult the iPhone does slow one down, not to mention the inevitable missed sign, wrong turn, and backtracking), we were admiring the modern elegance of Frugès-Corbusier's idealistic compound. As a cycling destination, it was perfect, although the only place we found for our picnic was a tiny patch of grass next to a community pool parking lot. Perhaps if we'd spent more time planning.....

As it was, however, we managed a satisfying, easy morning at the market AND 26 kilometres of mostly pleasant cycling (taking advantage of Sunday's relative quiet to get through the nastier city portion of the route--waiting until Monday would not have served us well) AND snuck some culture into the day as well. Pretty impressive for last-minute planning, I'd say. And if we hadn't been picnicking by the parking lot, we'd never have heard all those cheerful calls of Bon Appetit! (So conspicuous, yikes!)
We might not have found the most romantic spot for our picnic, but the contents were superb. ...
We did an even longer cycle on Wenesday, with just slightly more planning, and there was a market in that schedule as well. Next post...
Stopped for a photo op in front of this vineyard on the way home. 

As for today's plans, given that we cycled 60 kilometres yesterday and we have dinner reservations tonight at 8, a Nap is highlighted on the agenda. What about you? And what do you think about letting Random and Serendipity have so much sway in the decision-making? Finally, how desperate would you have to be to eat your picnic next to a parking lot? Would you have cycled home first instead?

18 comments:

  1. I would have picnicked on that spot of grass! Biking home hungry would make me cranky. Random serendipity is a wonderful way to make the best memories. We like to plan enough so that we have some idea of what we're going to do, but we also like to leave plenty of time for spontaneity.

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    1. Our approaches sound very similar, Lorrie. Especially the hunger-crankiness ratio!

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  2. Me too - after 13 km I couldn't have waited!

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    1. My husband probably could have, but he's learned some wisdom about keeping me happy 😉

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  3. Oh, the pains of finding somewhere to picnic - we've ended up in the oddest places. And have you noticed how often you finish eating, drive or cycle a few kms down the road, and glimpse what looks like the perfect spot? Sounds like an interesting destination though - a bit off the wall, which is always fun - and a lovely day.
    Rosemary

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    1. You know it, Rosemary! We could have ended up beside a vineyard, so much more attractive ...

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  4. Sounds like a wonderful day, and I'm all for a bit of random and the possibility of serendipity.

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    1. They're good people to journey with, right?!

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  5. A grassy knoll is a grassy knoll. If it were a short trip, I'd plan the perfect picnic spot. But for a long trip, you can have a more scenic picnic another day. Sounds highly successful to me.

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    1. Honestly, this was more troll than knoll, but my tummy was happy, even if my eyes weren't. 😉

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  6. That looks a really interesting place & I've never heard of it before . Very different to your other architectural pics , wonder what the locals thought of it when it was built . Looks quite a nice picnic spot to me , green , leafy & cool - I've had much worse
    Wendy in York

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    1. I think when it was built, there weren't really any other locals here. It was built on Frugès' property for his workers, a grand and idealist scheme. But as Pike recounts on his blog, the workers felt too far away from everything else. Corbusier and other futurist/modernists always relied so much on the car...

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  7. Great place to visit!
    With perfect company a little green spot can be just perfect
    I had this kind of picnic once and ...nothing else matters :-)
    Dottoressa

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    1. It's so true, D. The company overrides most else.

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  8. We love to picnic when we travel. Bread, cheese, fresh veggies and fruit. Yum. We always pack our travel cooler (collapsible) two hard plastic plates, a corkscrew and a sharp knife in our luggage. Once in Rotorua, New Zealand, we searched a bit before we found a lovely green park with picnic tables and everything. We were the only people eating at the picnic site....probably due to the fact that it was smack dab in the middle of the hot springs area, with steaming emerald green pools, and interestingly odoriferous emanations. Definitely our most unusual picnic site!

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    1. You're so organized! Going carry-on always precludes the knife, of course, but we borrowed a Swiss Army contraption from the kitchen here to cut our sausage and cheese. Despite the smell, your picnic spot sounds more attractive than ours, definitely more exotic! (And no recycling bins nearby!)

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  9. I'm in favour of the random approach to daily activities. I do get cranky if I get too hungry so your picnic spot sounds perfect.I'm going to look at the Invisible Bordeaux link. Workers' housing is such a European concept but probably one that we should be considering in Metro Vancouver.

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    1. Oh yes! As Whistler has found, we need to be able to offer affordable housing close enough to the workplace for all those who provide basic, everyday service.

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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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