Day Nineteen: Goodbye Wavy Blue Road

Carmen got up in the middle of the night and rocked the boat. Just sayin’…

I got up to a quiet boat so I put the water a boilin’ and read for a bit. Eventually C showed up with a chocolate breakfast and the obligatory baguette. After we got our ducks in a row (not literally this time) we started packing. I’m not sure how we collected so much wine but there it was. Eventually all was contained but we did find out later at the train station that Carmen’s underwear was playing loose and fancy free.

We dumped our bags in the office, filled out the obligatory paperwork and headed up hil into town. For all that people said there wasn’t much in Le Mas, we found one of the nicest washhouses of the trip, a wonderful old covered square and a fantastic example of a XII century romanesque church (probably my favourite so far…).

The church’s main advertised feature was an original Rembrandt. While beautiful, I believed it paled in comparison to the huge barrel arches and vaulted windows that characterized the interior. Most of the interior walls dated from the 12 century, unlike previous churches that had only naves or columns remaining. The light in this paricular church was beautiful as it illuminated various statues, carvings and alcoves.

Afterwards we headed through town in searchnof the elusive pickle and mustard chips that had been much advertised but never seen. Once again foiled, C settled for a pear at one of the markets. Eventually we made our way back to the port and our taxi arrived to rake us 15 kilometres into Marmande and our train.

The luggage is getting heavier. I had booked first class tickets on an express, so the trip should only be 30 minutes or so with no stops. Our hotel awaits in Bordeaux so hopefully it will be an afternoon of walking and enjoying.

I think we all agree that it’s sad to leave the canals behind. There is a lot to be said to being away from the crowds and the pace and cultural immersions certainly suit the adults of the party. We’ve got 4 days of cities and hotels again, and as Carmen said, if it wasn’t for Versaille, we could skip Paris alltogether. Still, the entire city of Bordeaux is a world heritage site and it is in the heart of some of the oldest wine country in France.

First class is nice and we resolved to give it a try on the way to Paris. Little did we realize that Paris to Bordeaux 1st class was 600+ Euros… So much for that little dream. I guess we are doomed for proletariat class.

Bordeaux station is big and busy. After we’d got the Paris tickets we went in search of a taxi; we found a tram. The lrt system here is above ground slower moving trains called trams. They have no barriers and run through the middle of busy plazas and there is the occasional curb to indicate a station.

A stop a the info booth scored us a map and the location of our hotel. We grabbed a cab, or attempted to. The first cabby rejected us outright once he saw the 4 of us and all our luggage. Our accumulation is starting to cause problems. Once we found a willing taxi, he had no idea where we were going. Granted, Rue Franklin has to be the single shortest street in the city, but it is disconcerting. Luckily I had the map from the info booth and he had his gps.

The Hotel de France was small and tucked down a tiny alley-like street. Unfortunately it was so small it had no elevator and more unfortunately we were at the top of three flights of spiral staircase with suitcases stuffed full of wine. I only made it 2 flights and abandoned the case for zak.

Leslie elected for a rest and a shower while C, Z and I headed for another tourist centre. Bordeaux is very 18 century. Long streets of elegant buildings. We came across a huge wine map and a stranger walked by and pointed out the best regions for vin blanc. We popped into the building and it was a strange mix of bar, wine collection and office. Turns out it is a wine school and wine bar.

Across the street at the tourist place we found all the days tours for tomorrow were full and the Colbert (the battle ship Zak wanted to see) was gone. That took care of most of our reasons for coming to Bordeaux. After gathering some info we headed out and heard the call of the wine. Carmen and I sat in the wine bat and had a glass of Sauternes Chateau Laville. It was a super sweet wine but, as Carmen said it didn’t stay on the palate so it wasn’t as cloying as you’d expect.

After we swung by and picked up Leslie we headed for the old quarter and wandered. We found ourselves on the busy shopping street (St Catherines) with thousands of people and high end shops. A quick glance at the map and a quick left took us away from the hustle and bustle. After a while we stopped for a lemonade and some maki. L’s bottle had a small glass ball in it for fizzing the soda. We found another church which helped settle our jittery ‘city nerves’ and resumed our meandering. Around 6 we found a restarant we liked and resolved to walk a bit before it opened. Around the corner we ran into Place de la Bourse with is huge line of 18 century buildings and mirror pond. Thus particular reflecting pool only has about 2 cm of water in it which drains to a couple of milimeters. Pretty cool (with all the waders, that was a double entendre.

Oh and kites. There I am staring at architectural masterpieces and object d’arts and Carmen and Zak are staring the otherway, enraptured by a kite. Sheesh.

Afterwords we headed back for dinner. At 7 we approach our choice only to be rebuffed: “after 7:30…” So we headed back down the alley to have a pre-dinner sorbet in the shadow of the church. When we finally headed back we were the first diners to arrive. Dinner was more shrimp. It was advertises as scampi so o thought finnaly I wouldn’t have to shell the stupid things, but no… More finger food that was more effort than food.

After dinner we headed back to Place de la Bourse to see it all lit up. The quay was crammed with young people and beer; quite the happening place. A nice walk back to the hotel took us by the the Notre Dame all lit up and beautiful.

We agreed to meet at 9:30 for our wine course and said goonight.