Bordeaux part II: More than just the vineyard

From Bordeaux airport we take the shuttle bus heading to the city center to Gare de Bordeaux Saint Jean(that costs 7.2 euro each) or simply put the city’s main train station . This is where the adventure starts.

Arriving at the train station, our adrenaline is pumping hard, eager to walk around the city. But first things first; let’s put our stuff at the airbnb place and get freshen up. So…. How do we get there? Well, our host is very kind to give us the directions on how to get there but being a newbie in this wine city, with a foreign language everywhere, it’s not as easy as instructed.

First the tram, and change to the bus and do a bit walking. Ok that seems doable. As we walk towards where all the tram stops are, the first problem occurs with numerous questions; which tram to take, which direction, where is the tram stop, which one to get down, who do we ask, do they speak English, should we ask that guy, no that guy’s cuter, oh that guy looks really hot, nah he seems arrogant, wait stop. Focus! At the end we decide to ask a group of high school girls for help, why (of all the cute guyz walkin around why girls?!?!)? Well, well hot guys are for the eyes, but to go to our Bordeaux ‘home’ we need practicality. These school girls can probably speak English and more tech savvy to help us.

‘Parlez vous anglais?’ I ask the girls if they speak English.

‘A little.’ one of the girls answers.

And there goes the 5 minute long of hand gestures, pointing, yes, no, oui, oui, showing off photos from the phones, typing the location name as we totally embarrass ourselves by pronunciating the French word completely wrong.

‘D’accord, d’accord. Merci beaucoup.’ (ok,ok, thank you very much) I tell the girls as we walk towards the ticket machine. D’accord…, not ok… what? As we look on the monitor. There are types of tickets and which one? As luck would have it, there’s a middle age couple who can clearly see our struggle come to help us. Click, click, click.. ‘deux personnes (2 people)?’ he asks, ‘oui’ I answer confidently as it’s the only word I’m sure how to say it correctly. Voilà! We have our tickets! ‘Merci Beaucoup!’

Watch out for the trams!

The struggle doesn’t stop there. As we get onto the tram, we have to validate the ticket by inserting the ticket into the machine, that’s when the embarrassment spikes again. You know how printers or fax machine get paper jam and it makes continuous, loud, high-pitch squeaky noises until you pull the paper out? Yup! That’s exactly what’s happening with my ticket! Like how? And why? Everyone starts to look at our way and there’s nothing we can do. The ticket is inside and we can’t pull it out! One guy nearby tries to help, however, did not succeed. There’s nothing we can do but wait till we get to our station and get down. We sure know how to make an entrance!

The moment of embarassment

Quinconces station! Halfway there! As we look at the timetable.. obviously it’s in french so we use google translate to check the days and the time the bus will arrive.

Google translate to the rescue

While waiting for the nxt bus to come, we take a little break nearby at this gorgeous serene area where trees line up nicely making it a very peaceful place to walk through.

Into the woods at Quinconces

Here we are by midday! We reach what will be our home for couple of nights. The place is cozy, simple yet very French about it. The airbnb host is very friendly and provides us with many information and maps. The city is walkable and since it’s the summer, it won’t get dark till around 9.30pm, plenty of time to explore the city. Woop Woop!

The living room with the view of the backyard
The gorgeous cozy backyard
Up up here we go!
La Chambre…the bedroom

Are you ready?!? Let’s goooo!

Out in the streets
If you don’t know where to go, just follow the tram lines
The Girondins monument or Monument aux Girondins
One of the main transportation here is bikes or shall i say le vélo..
Bike lane along the Garonne river…
Pont de pierre or in english Stone Bridge crossing the Garonne river
Pont de Pierre or in english Stone Bridge crossing the Garonne river
Taken from Pont de Pierre
Near Pont de Pierre stands Port Calihau – built to commemorate Charles VIII’s Victory at Fornovo (Italy)
hmmm where to?
What’s so special with this name

Little fun fact about Place de la bourse:

☆ Place de la bourse is a UNESCO world heritage site
☆ aka Place Royale
☆ The architect is Ange – Jacques Gabriel, who also did other famous projects such as Place de la concorde, and parts of Chateau de Versailles
☆ Place de la bourse means ‘Square of the wallet’ due to the fact that it is surrounded by Chamber of commerce and other economic institutes
☆ Across the street is another gorgeous architecture – Mirroir des Quais or the Quay mirror, the largest water mirror in the world covering 3450 square meter area

Remember the name yet?
‘Three graces’ fountain
Mirroir des quais = Amazinggg Water mirror!!!
My favourite shot (the mirror effect cannot be seen during winter apparently)
Best to hangout in the summer ☼

How water circulates
am i flying… or ice skating?
Oh the symmetry
Reflection Perfection
not a regular water mirror…it also has the fog effect
where both kids and adults can enjoy
Come chill in the sun ☼
or picnic with your girlfrends…
or group exercise…
or build some muscles!
or simply skateboard into slippery floor..
This sums up the main transportation in Bordeaux: Tram, car, bike.
Underground parking keeps the area clean from side walk parking
How traditional to see the postman riding the bike
Basilique Saint Michel – a gothic church which is also a historical monument
Palais Gallien – served as refuge for mobsters and prostitutes. (Rumor has it that it is also a meeting place for witches)
At Place de la Victoire stands the first monument in Bordeaux designed to honour viticulture and winemaking – the helical shape symbolizes the vineyard rising like a vine to the sun!
Next to the column is a statue of bronze turtle with grapes in his mouth
Urban clock at Place de la comédie makes a good meeting place
Place de la comédie often has many pedestrians due to many famous landmarks nearby include the shopping street, Opéra National de Bordeaux, Tourism office….etc
Nearby also has this cute carousel. France you never fail to amaze me!
The cost of fulfilling my childhod dream is 2 euros
It’s not France if you don’t see an art installation popping out of nowhere
and this magic trick
Or this magnificent spray art
Rue Sainte-Catherine is the main shopping street in Bordeax (1.2km long)
Tour buses can be seen around the city
Now this is rare! Open top car with private tour guide!
Where else can you see this in the middle of the road?
Father – son bonding time ❤

By the end of the day, well technically pretty late at night around 10pm, right after the sunset, we walk back home from the city center. Oh no no no… it’s not ending as easy as it sounds. Our phones die and the powerbank also has no more battery, what do we do? We use the tradtional way, the paper map! Not sure if it’s luck or meant to be, before we leave home earlier today, the host shows us where the house is in the map and marks on it with a pen. So we follow the map, looking for the street names in every corner, i must say after tonight, not only we are pro at pronouncing the french words, or at least the street names anyway, but also navigating around city center. However, at night time, the walk back may seem scary, with hardly no people on the streets, dark alleys, yellow lights and have i mention how there are garbage bins outside everywhere? Maybe we come by the trash collecting day, but weirdly we don’t see any rats or cockroaches…phew…

Paper maps never die!
Speaking of maps, these are the areas you can’t miss when exploring Bordeaux 🙂
Night walk to home

Finally, we are home, where we meet the host family in the living room. The mum, dad and their adorable 10 year old son. We exchange our backgrounds, culture and stories eventhough they might not be fluent in English but they are very cute at trying to explain things to us, even their son finds an english word in the dictionary to help the parents explain about the wine story.

So here are the things we learn about Bordeaux from the family:

1.) You can easily walk around Bordeaux at night due to the fact that there is very low criminal rate as people here are not so poor, the gap between the rich and poor are very narrow.

2.) Bordeaux people are very friendly and helpful – evidence a) teenagers who help us when we first arrive b) the old couple who help us with the ticket machine c) the guy on the tram when our ticket got jam  d) people around the city that we interact with e) Amazing airbnb hosts who help us with everything.

3.) Undoubtedly, most houses in center Bordeaux has wine cellar underground, they drink wine everyday all year round.

Boy, doesn’t that last information make us all thirsty. Well stay tuned for the next blog for wine tour and food in Bordeaux!

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