Well we're back on the blog folks and we must start with a little housekeeping and humble thank yous. Firstly, a huge thanks to all who have taken time to read our blog and email us with kind words of encouragement. It's quite enjoyable doing this blog and we really only intended it to be a memory refresher for us when we're back in nappies, fighting off Alzheimer's and the trip is a distant memory. But it's all the more enjoyable knowing that there is someone on the other end of the screen enjoying our ramblings (other than our parents who are checking to see if we're still alive). Also, a very special thanks to those of you who have commented on the blog itself. I'm such an IT ignoramus that I didn't even know it was possible for people to leave comments under our blog entries and photos. Even my mum found the comments section and posted something!! I stumbled across them all by accident this morning. Please keep the comments coming and I'll make sure we respond to all of them in due course.
Now let's talk Bordeaux. After coming from the highs of San Sebastian we were bound to hit a bit of flat spot in our trip. And Bordeaux happened to be it. It all started with our train ride from San Sebastian. Whilst waiting for our train to depart, we decided to call Jess' Nanna, Maxine back in Adelaide for a little chit chat. Unfortunately, we happened to call just as the final siren sounded on the Crows v Pies game and Maxine was eager to inform me that her beloved Crows had just beaten the snot of my hapless Pies.
Not a good start to the day.
Then we arrived in Hendaya for a quick train swap on our way to Bordeaux. Just grab our bags, go the next platform and hop on the train. Easy right? WRONG. Being the ever vigilant Good Samaritan that she is, Jess managed to spot a sweet little old couple in amongst the hundreds of passengers making the same train swap. She insisted we go over and help them with their bags. Sure, why not! We have 17 mins til our next train departs. So in our broken French-English-Spanish schmozzle of a language we managed to offer our assistance and the old man proceeded to hand us one, two, three, four, FIVE PIECES OF LUGGAGE - all weighing approximately 48kgs per piece. Add that to the 20-odd kilos we already had on our backs (or in my case, broken back) and it made for the most painful 20 mins of my life since the last quarter of the 2011 AFL Grand Final. Thanks Jess!!!
In Bordeaux, our first impressions of the city were not fantastic. Stepping off the train platform and walking to our hotel (which was just around the corner) we were confronted with something that was very different to what we were expecting.
The best way to describe it? Imagine you have never been to Australia. All you know of Australia are the typical caricatures you see in the media - Kangaroos, larrikin blokes, a love of sport and a tolerance for beer that will outlast religion. Then imagine you book a trip to Melbourne and you find accommodation just 10 mins from the city centre, close to the train network, and within walking distance of restaurants, sporting stadiums, and pubs and clubs. Sounds great, right? Yeah well I've just described Footscray for you. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking Footscray (my mum hails from the old Wild West) but it's not exactly what a tourist would imagine when they think of Australia - no Crocodile Dundee types to be found there. And so it was with our living quarters of Bordeaux. Instead of beret-wearing, cigarette-smoking snobs we found something very un-French. About as un-French as 20th century military successes!
In spite of our less than flattering first impressions we made the most of the situation and found a few diamonds in the rough. The first gem being the medieval town of St Emilion. Just a couple of train stops out of Bordeaux, this quaint little time capsule of a town is the Mecca of wine-making (even though Muslims don't drink wine). From narrow cobblestone roads to poop-inducing views from the heights of the Cathedral bell-tower, this place had it all, and Jess was in digital camera heaven! While Jess was snapping away like a paparazzi on crystal meth I unwittingly embarked on a journey of self-discovery. Here's what I learnt:
(1). Wine. I just don't get it
Anybody who knows me well would know that I drink beer like Putin collects territories. But I just don't get the fascination with wine. Cab Sav, Merlot, Shiraz, it all tastes the same to me. And none of them taste good. Kind of like drinking warm grape juice that has been kept in Nanna's spare wardrobe along with my parents' matching velvet suits from 1973. Give me a cold frothie any day over that rubbish. Moreover, I don't get…..nay (GARY RANT ALERT)….I can't stand those stupid douche-faced wine snobs who sniff, nip at and talk crap with every snippet of wine they try. "Hmmmm yes this drop really brings out the oak barrel and hints of nutmeg on the palate". What the…??? Are you having a drink of booze or composing Beethoven's 9th for crying out loud???
Again, before you all go reaching for the "I'm offended" button, one of my good mates is one of those wine gurus. But he has the decency to appreciate that not everyone (i.e. me) "gets it". The St Emilion wine gurus? Different story. After asking where I was from, one of the store owners proceeded to tell me how Australians don't make good merlots. My response, "Yes but they happen to be mighty handy when you've been invaded and crushed by angry Krauts don't they?". Needless to say, I didn't make a new French friend.
(2). Heights are great for fixing digestive problems
Remember how I mentioned the Cathedral bell tower? Well I strongly recommend you go visit and climb it. From the top, you'll see the most spectacular views since the KISS reunion in 1996. But be sure to pay attention to the detail of the stonework of the tower itself. There you will see engravings about 12 inches deep of my fingerprints and the parts where my panic-induced sweat ate away at the stone. Turns out I'm scared of heights like Leon Davis is scared of a footy on Grand Final day (sorry Leon, I love ya but damn man, you had 4 GFs and got less touches than a Miley Cyrus backup dancer!). It would've been nice to know this before I climbed 250 plus steps and stepped out onto the bell tower balcony. Sure glad I packed those wet wipes in the daypack ;-)
The other highlight of our stay in Bordeaux was the city skyline at night. Again Jess attacked the camera like Lara Bingle's boyfriend and took some spectacular shots. A fairly attractive city during the day becomes a breath-taking masterpiece by night. Of course, much of this is owed to the laws that prevent buildings from being above a certain height - meaning that the skyline views remain unhindered from all angles. Check out some of Jess' handiwork in the Photos section and see for yourself.
Well that's all for now folks. Got a little carried away with this entry and didn't want to add to an already lengthy post. So we'll tell you about Carcassonne in our next entry. All I'll say is, if you think the St Emilion and Bordeaux pics were great, you ain't seen nuthin yet!