So, that road sign I was talking about in the last post – apparently it means “end of a path for pedestrians and cyclists” according to this web site. HOWEVER, take a look here and here. Two very similar signs with slight differences, and what I saw last week was the first one. So whether the border is a square or a circle makes a difference…as well as whether the adult is holding the child’s hand. GOOD STUFF, FRENCH PEOPLE. I was almost 100% positive that these signs had something to do with children specifically. WHY DID YOU HAVE TO INCLUDE THE KID!? You got me with that red herring, France…
One thing I found out this week is that Bordeaux is referred to as Port de la Lune, or Port of the Moon. When I first heard that the Port of the Moon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I was determined to find out where this “port” is situated so I could go visit. I was convinced that it was a specific location somewhere within the city of Bordeaux. Many searches later, I found nothing with regards to where the Port of the Moon is and how to get there. Strange, I thought, that there are no directions to such a place. It wasn’t until one dark and stormy night when epiphany struck me that maybe…just maybe the Port of the Moon IS Bordeaux itself. Well don’t I feel stupid. Anyway, it is named so due to “the crescent shape of the meandering Garonne as it traverses the city”. What a pretty name!
Yesterday I went on a city tour organized for new students. To be honest my motivation to attend mostly came from the free lunch. It turns out that the tour itself was rather boring, and I much preferred my spontaneous explorations. As a result, I strayed from the group halfway through and wandered off on my own. Then I went to the grocery store to get more wine and cheese, but that is besides the point.
We started out at the Grand Theatre at 10:00. I would be still in bed if it weren’t for the tour. In retrospect I should have stayed in bed. The interior of the Grand Theatre reminds me of Roy Thompson Hall, though it’s smaller and much cozier. I ended up on the 4th floor, which I think was as high as you could go.
Sitting in the very front row and looking down as the audience began filling up the seats.
Some chants from the Bach era were performed. There was a bassoon player, who later on switched to playing the recorder. It wasn’t one of those kiddie recorders that we used to play in elementary school but rather a longer version. Not saying the performances themselves were bad, but I could have fallen asleep like I almost did during the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performances that I’ve been to. Sitting so high up, though, gave me the irrational fear of falling forward and off the balcony if I fell asleep, and that kept me quite awake most of the time.
I took this picture while trying to exit the Grand Theatre, but it was blurry. There were LOTS of students in this tour; I was quite surprised. I didn’t know that many people came to study in Bordeaux.
Remember the gigantic column and those statues in the fountain at Quinconces that I posted last week? Well, apparently we could go “into” the column and underground to see how the water system works. Not exactly anything too spectacular, and the entrance smelled like a very dirty public bathroom. It was raining as we were lining up to go in, so I was glad to be inside. However, I was also glad to be out of there quickly, and thankfully the rain stopped.
This is the Miroir d’Eau, or Water Mirror with the Place de la Bourse behind it. I’ve heard that this place looks absolutely gorgeous at night, so I will definitely come back another time during the night to take some pictures. There is a tram station right behind the water, but a station was not officially built. The reason was that to preserve the Heritage Site, UNESCO forbids any construction that would alter the appearance of the site. Therefore, you’d just have to know that the tram stops there without any indication. This brings about the question: Why are there those red and white bars there? In my opinion they are artifacts that utterly destroy the entire view.
There is a mist/fog system that operates once every 15 minutes or so that enshrouds the entire Miroir d’Eau in a sheet of mist. Good, at least this covers that ugly bar.
Yay, more fountains. The three women and the pink scarves they wear are supposed to be a symbol of something, but I didn’t pay attention to my guide when she was explaining (because I was planning to leave the group soon). The water had a tint of red, which made me think that it’s a mix of water and red wine. Hey, you never know, it’s completely possible with the French!
Here back at the Place de la Victoire, we have a party going on! Looks fun, doesn’t it? A fair or a carnival of some sort, perhaps? Turns out…it was a “MANIFESTATION”. Yup, the French people were on strike again, after the one that happened last Tuesday. If you didn’t know, you would have thought that this was some sort of carnival or parade. I didn’t intend to be at Victoire, but the tram had to terminate at the stop before Victoire. All passengers had to walk two stops in order to continue on Tram B, because the demonstration took over all of Victoire. WELL DONE, FRANCE. I guess I should get used to these disruptions due to strikes all the time as part of the authentic French experience. And all this time I was just thinking…just give me back the tram!!!
As you could probably tell I wasn’t overly excited about the day, per say, but that’s alright. There’s always next Saturday, which hopefully is a sunny one. Now, let’s get to the serious business of wine and cheese.
Due to the national strike last Tuesday, I decided to take the tram home from work instead of the bus. Normally, I don’t pass by the supermarket while taking the bus, but the tram stops right in front of it. In a spontaneous instant, I decided to get off and grab myself a bottle of wine…maybe some cheese too. It is an intrinsic law that one must become a wine and/or cheese connoisseur upon stepping into the land of the French, so I thought, why not start here?
For my first bottle of wine, I decided to look for something relatively cheap that I could finish within 3 days. Most wines come in bottles of 750 ml, or 75 cl, which is the notation here. There were a few that came in 37.5 cl, but I had a feeling those were the wines of inferior quality. Still, I chose one of the small bottles as I didn’t want to waste the wine that I would not finish. Now, I know absolutely nothing about choosing wines, so as long as it says “Bordeaux” on the bottle and wasn’t more than 3 Euros, I was willing to go for it. I mean…even if it’s bad, it can’t be that bad, right? It’s an experiment, after all.
The cheese was the better part of the search. Again, I know nothing about good and bad types of cheese, so I picked solely based on intuition. There was a wide selection of cheeses, most of which I have not heard of, but that’s the fun of it, picking up something mysterious. After a bit of poking around here and there, I decided on a block of Port-Salut cheese with a vibrant orange rind. It looks exactly like a piece of cheesecake, and it was soft to the touch. Very appetizing.
I had a fierce battle with the cork because I was a wine noob and took forever to pull it out. Clearly practice is required, which gives me an excuse to get more wine. As for the actual tasting, can’t say much about the wine yet, but damn, the cheese was delicious. Upon opening the package, it was a bit on the smelly side, but that’s one of the unique features of cheese that I find intriguing. Eating it, however…oh man. So smooth and rich in flavour! I even liked the rind of the cheese, which is edible, in this case. I am never eating processed cheese again.
So my plan is to try one type of wine and one type of cheese per week and see how long my budget allows me to keep going. I’ll report on the wine and cheese at the end of the weekly entries.
Oh, are my entries too long? I find that I tend to ramble a lot and that sometimes bores readers. Let me know what you think, if I should keep things the way they are, or shorten the entries. Till next time!