Leaving two extremely event-filled weeks behind me, I finally have some time to sit down and catch up on some updating. The winter holidays officially began on December 27th, but the lab was mostly empty by Wednesday of the previous week, so I took a slightly extended break. (It’s France. What do you expect?) Within two weeks, I was involved in a Christmas church gathering (and the numerous rehearsals beforehand for our performances), a visit to the Christmas market, a trip to Paris, a new year’s eve countdown night, and countless gatherings with fellowship friends. Busy indeed, but a fulfilling end to the year 2010.
On Christmas day, some friends from the Groupe Chrétien Chinois de Bordeaux met up to take a stroll down Allée de Tourny, where a Christmas market was taking place until December 30th. The sun shone brightly and deceivingly, but little did we know, until we got out, that it was quite a chilly day. Nevertheless, the festive atmosphere surrounded us and we passed a pleasant afternoon at the market before ending the day with an enjoyable dinner party.
Disclaimer: Unless otherwise stated, these pictures were taken by friends using their better-than-mine cameras. I just leeched some off of them because I didn’t bring my camera that day.
Every carnival/fair/market has to have a merry-go-round of some sort. The new vocabulary of the day is manège, French for merry-go-round. We had a lot of fun watching the manège go round and round, like the wheels on the bus. YuXuan, the youngest member of our fellowship at the age of almost 3, went on a ride with his dad and seemed to have the time of his life! Even some of the older ones in our group relived their memories aboard this childhood favourite.
Here’s a street performer playing the violin. I gotta admit, when he played Jingle Bells, his tuning was quite off…but still, he was an adorable old man.
This Christmas market is much more compact and cozy than the one in Paris (will get to that eventually), and as a result the flow of traffic was denser, creating an unexpected source of warmth for that cold afternoon. Here is a variety of little booths in the market. From bonsai plants to knives to alcohol to little statues to hair accessories to hot wine – yes, I will get to that in a bit – the market was full of surprises and little amusements waiting to be discovered.
This set of photos was taken by the camera on my cell phone, so you can see the obvious decline in quality, but that matters not. My favourite booth in the market would have to be the one that sells the glass ornaments. It reminds me of a mini Swarvoski which I love so much. The flowers in the cubes were especially appealing because of the vibrant colours added to the crystallinity.
Here we gathered around a bench to each have a cup of mulled wine (hot wine), known as “vin chaud” in French. I was somewhat skeptical at first as I’ve never heard of such a thing, but apparently it is a common drink to sip on during Christmas. I must say it was quite refreshing, especially in the cold. Moreover, huddling with these buddies made it infinitely more enjoyable. They say my eyes disappear when I smile (Derek says you can see diffraction patterns, VERY clever and nerdy joke that made me laugh even if it was targeted at me), and it is true, as evident from this set of photos. We ended the visit to the market with a big cheer. À la santé!!!
Grand Théâtre in the back, with the sky at dusk which was bluer than blue. In fact, the blue was pretty darn striking. We said goodbye to the market as we headed for dinner two minutes away.
And finally, group picture of all who attended that day. Smile for the camera!
Thus, this is the first Christmas in Europe, happily spent with a bunch of friends that I am blessed beyond belief to have met. God has really done some amazing and unbelievable work in my life ever since I came and words cannot express how thankful I am for all that I have been given. Nonetheless, I miss everyone back home in Canada and hope that you’ve all had a blast during your winter holidays! 2010 has really been heck of a year, but in the midst of rewinding for some end-of-the-year reflections, let’s not forget to look forward to a new year, a new beginning, a new adventure!
Last but not least, happy new year!
P.S. I will get to Paris very soon…that is, when I am not too lazy to manage the 582 pictures I took and write about those 4 days of lost-and-found. Still, I can now officially check off Paris from my list of “Places I want to visit in Europe”. Just THAT many more cities to go!