Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh, Bordeaux..

Bordeaux was the weekend of my life. I cannot believe how beautiful it was and it wasn’t even springtime. One major difference I have noticed between France and the US is that France has beautiful architecture. There is absolutely no reason to have a train station that is ornate and pretty, or steel decoration on windows and doors but they do! It makes a simple building ten times better. The US cares about quickness, height, and space, while France has no problem building out instead of up, and building pretty instead of ugly! Granted, a lot of things were built hundreds of years ago, but still. Even the modern stuff keeps to tradition. It is simply beautiful.
The group that went was quite “the” group! We had 2 South Africans, 4 Americans, 2 English, 1 Chinese, and 1 Taiwanese. Everywhere we went I am SURE the people hated us. We left Friday morning with only our backpacks and purses (yes, believe it or not, I did pack light J) to catch the train. We all sat together and the 2.5 hour ride began. Remember this for future reference: I had a list of things to see in Bordeaux because Jacques told us to make a list of what we wanted to do, and I was the only person who did.  Nothing too exciting happened on the train, but once we arrived in Bordeaux, the fun began.
We first began by exploring the city and seeing some churches and some of the main monuments. Count on my camera battery to not even last the whole day. Of course, who would have thought I would have needed my charger, but naturally I did! We went to St. Michel where we saw the second largest spire in France, behind Strasbourg. We ate lunch at a café and Jacques gave us a (bad) lesson in professional wine tasting. We found “La Grosse Cloche” which is a beautiful arch clock tower. I even saw a wig shop for my Nana and found the name of what my wine shop will be named: “Wine More Time”. How cute is that!  We continued on and found St. Andre which was beautiful on the outside and had a tower on the outside that you could climb. It is called “La Tour Pey-Berland” and had a curving 231 steps up. Cardio for the weekend: Check. It was terrible to get up and down it, but SO worth the view of Bordeaux from the top! Absolutely beautiful. We weren’t in quite the direct center of the city but you could see for miles in every direction. Fabulous. I even sat on one of the things to try to be a gargoyle like the cement, but I don’t think I succeeded at that very well. Afterwards we sat at “Le Café Francais” (tres chic!) and had coffee and later some wine. Hours later, after grabbing some more wine and dinner, we headed to our hotel…A whopping forever and five days away!
L’Etoile Bleu turned out to be a scene out of a horror movie. Right off the highway, dark, and like three cars in the parking lot. It really wasn’t that scary and it was perfect for sleeping but I definitely wouldn’t hike my way back there again just because it was so far away from everything! We made a picnic in the lawn and had French cheese and baguette and played many fun games! Turns out, we were too loud and needed to move, so we started some dancing lessons and more games on the patio of our hotel. It was quite the successful night, but after too many hours, it was time to sleep.
 Saturday morning came bright and early, and Jacques was a little too happy waking everyone up for grumpy Miss Teryn. We were supposed to go to a wine tour (that hadn’t been booked yet) and get lunch and see more of Bordeaux. Of course, with 12 people, “Be ready in 15 minutes” really means be ready in 45. Finally we made it back out and couldn’t find the Tourism office to get to our wine tour, and the ones they offered were beyond expensive. We decided to see more sights and just go to a “Cave du vin” and try different wines. It’s basically a wine restaurant where one can do tastings of the wine from all over. After sitting for more than a few hours, we ventured out to find a place for dinner and go to an Irish pub. The number one thing I am going to miss about France: the bread! The baguettes are extremely fresh, and it turns a simple ham and cheese sandwich into a masterpiece! We went to this Irish pub and played some games and watched an English soccer match. After we went into the center of town again and found another small bar where I met a bartender who dated a girl from Oklahoma and he knew Boomer Sooner! Small world, huh? Of course, I took a picture! We decided to leave before the last bus so that we could make it back to our hotel; five hundred miles away ;)

Sunday was pretty low key. We got up and went to lunch. Jacques was determined to have KFC because he loves it and there isn’t one in Limoges. Surprisingly, it was the best meal I ate that weekend! Actually, it wasn’t but I guess it was just good to have something greasy and like home! We didn’t have too much time on Sunday because to go anywhere really big because our train was leaving at 6. We went back to the Fontaine des Girondins and took more pictures and then back along the river. It was a perfect day without a cloud in the sky and it was so nice to just walk along the river. We even saw some otter-looking things swimming and making their way up the mud to eat. We sat outside a café and had crepes and coffee when I got the brilliant idea to spell out Bordeaux with our bodies! I am quite the creative genius and I am pretty sure the other customers loved to watch the crazy tourists!
After two fun-filled days, it was time to say goodbye to Bordeaux. It was such a nice place and I am definitely going back because I want to visit a winery and see it all when it is blooming and the fountains are on. Plus, with it only being 2.5 hours away, why not?!
In other news, classes are going well. I have my first exam in the Translation course this coming Friday. I will translate something from English to French with one a one language dictionary. Wish me luck! I feel that my French is progressing. It is easier for me to make conversation, and I feel that my comprehension is getting a lot better as well. I still don’t understand everything, but I am understanding more and that makes me happy J On Thursday night, I went to this restaurant called “Raconte-moi une histoire” where I learned how to make crepes and the traditional French meal, blanquette de veau. It took a long time but it was SO worth the wait. Rice, vegetables, veal, carrots, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, fabulous sauce, and just all together amazing! It was fun! Friday I went with Klara and Martina (the 2 Czech girls) and Kristen to this fresh, local market called “Saveurs Fermieres” that had wine, fruit, nuts, fresh meat, jams, honey, coffee, breads, cheese, a ton of things that were all local. We bought some cheese with dried tomatoes, onions, and basil with a baguette and sat in a park and ate it and spoke French. C’est la vie! It was perfect and very fun. It was a nice afternoon and a great way to start off the weekend!
Tonight is Martina’s birthday so I am going to go help her celebrate and then tomorrow and I am resting up, doing homework, finishing a scholarship, and cleaning my room. For some reason, my room gets so dusty and it is highly annoying. In two weeks I have my first week long break and I am thinking Spain. I want to go somewhere that I cannot go on a weekend and I would also like to go outside of France. I guess I’ll research that as well for tomorrow.
Everyone have a happy Valentine’s Day! My mom sent me the best care package with a Cosmo, jean skirt, homemade cookies (yuuuuummm!) and some “flowers” to decorate my desk. It was so nice and made my day. She’s the best!


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