Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: grand theatre

It’s Christmas time!

Christmas is the time of giving and gathering, a time of being joyful and thankful, a time of celebrating the reason why we should be joyful and thankful. 2012 years ago, the one and only God came to this world as a man, a humble king who would die for the atonement of our sins. Because He came, we are free, and today, we gather to sing His praises and celebrate His wonders.

Throughout the years, Christmas has become such a commercialized holiday that many people have forgotten its true meaning. The other day my sister asked me what presents I got, and while I said none, she replied in surprised, “How could you not get presents? It’s CHRISTMAS?” A bit ironic, isn’t it? Because it is Christmas, I should be getting presents? Is Christmas all about putting presents under the tree, waiting for Santa Claus, and singing carols? Among the dazzling lights and cheering crowds, who remembers the real Christmas story?

Regardless of the way we perceive Christmas, it is a time where joy is present in the air. Bordeaux, of course, lacks no Christmas spirit. Although it is rain instead of snow that covers the city, Bordeaux dances in its own beauty even in the rain. Although our Christmas market isn’t as grand as the ones in Paris or Strasbourg or Cologne, the crowds are not to be belittled. Although I am far from my home in Canada, I found a family here with whom I could share the peace and joy that was blessed upon me 😉

So you wonder if Santa Claus really exists. Did you know that Santa Claus is really…a thief? Yep, that’s right. Santa Claus was caught in action in Saint-Émilion! There was a big “attention au chien” (“beware of dog”) sign in front of this house, but I guess the dog somehow missed the stealthy Mr.Claus…

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Bureaucratic nightmare

When I finally picked up my carte de séjour (residence permit) last Friday, after 4 months of being in France, I was more than delighted. With the little card in my hands, hot n’ fresh, I was finally legal and able to travel! Or so I thought.

Back at the office, I turned to the back of the card, only to discover in horror and utter defeat that my “pays de naissance” (country of birth) was “REPUBLIQUE DEMO DU CONGO”. Thanks mom and dad, I never knew I was born in Africa. Way to tell me 23 years later via such an indirect route.

But seriously, what I thought was a pleasant end of the week turned out to be rather disappointing as I realized that I’d have to go back and get this information corrected (they also didn’t update my address). My guess would be that “REPUBLIQUE DE CHINE” is too close to “REPUBLIQUE DEMO DU CONGO”, hence the silly error. I had a good laugh, but I sighed at the fact that I’d have to make another trip to the prefecture, line up for an hour, and wait for who knows how long for the new corrected card while hoping they don’t make another mistake. This is quite urgent too, because I can’t go to Belgium without the card. All of a sudden, I feel like an identity-less refugee.

There’s one important lesson to be learned here, something that I will be sure to keep in mind in any future bureaucratic endeavour. Basically, never assume that anything will be done correctly the first time around in France. Always double-check, triple-check, quadruple-check, x-ple-check documents so that you won’t have waste time to make extra trips for correction. Being the skeptic that I am, I checked my medical visit receipt after this incident, and as I speculated, they put my country of birth as “Canada”. Not nearly as far-fetched as Congo, but a mistake nevertheless. Why ask for my passport if you’re going to make assumptions?

Lately I’ve been updating on Tuesdays instead of weekends. Somehow Tuesdays are…freer than the rest of the week. Anyhow, on with the pictures.

A few weeks ago I took the train from downtown Bordeaux to Pessac, a trip with a total duration of five minutes. Here is Bordeaux St.Jean station. I’m glad they have those automatic machines for buying tickets. As long as you know which train you want to take, they’re so much more convenient to use, and of course, you avoid the big line-up.

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A fortnight before Christmas

It’s funny when I tell people here that I’m from Canada. They automatically assume two things.

ONE: You must know how to speak French! Why, yes I do. Or more precisely I tell them, “I can speak French, but I’m not fluent.” Then they all think I’m from Quebec, because how else would I know how to speak French and why else would I come to France? Then again, some folks here think all Canadians must be able to speak both English and French because our country is bilingual. I tell them that I am from the English speaking part of Canada and that a lot of people actually don’t speak French. In fact, Toronto is predominantly English and it is only because of our education system that some people are able to speak a little bit of French. Sorry for shattering your dreams, mes chers amis de France.

TWO: You must not be afraid of the cold! Well, there’s something I always believed – you could get used to something, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to it. The coldness of winter is an example. It was a good 15⁰C in Bordeaux last week (yes, above zero) but the temperature rapidly dropped to approximately 0⁰C since Thursday. Is it cold? Yes it is, though not nearly as cold as the -15⁰C in Toronto during the same time of the year…but it’s still COLD. I’m not gonna run outside with shorts and a T-shirt, but I do admit that the cold is a refreshing cold, not a piercing cold that penetrates your skin and burns your bones.

Then people ask how we live in such harsh winter conditions in Canada. I say, “I dunno, you just kind of get used to it.” Which is true. We still complain about the cold in Canada, but it’s a natural cycle of seasons that we’re unable to change, so all we can do is prepare for it. I’d been living comfortably in Toronto for 15 years and am still alive and happy, so thanks for worrying about my well-being, but we’re fine.

I promised more night photos, and the theme this week is…Christmas is coming! Actually, the only time I CAN go out to take pictures nowadays is during the night, since it is already dark by the time I get off work. So expect night scenes for the next couple of posts.

Place Gambetta prepares for Christmas with colourful lights. This place is connected to the Grand Théâtre and St. Catherine’s, and is also filled with people and full of life.

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Bordeaux dans la nuit

It rained non-stop from Sunday to Wednesday last week, and finally, we get some sunshine today. I’d never seen so much rain in my entire life before. Non-stop is almost literal. In those four days, there were little breaks of sunshine that always made me think that the rain had ended. But no. As if the rain was playing a trick on me, it came right back 20 seconds after I started rejoicing. Sometimes it didn’t even wait for the sun to retreat, and the rain would come pouring down without warning. I was rather frustrated.

I really dislike rain, by the way. When the rain turned into hail on the day that I had to travel 40 minutes to a meeting (and how convenient was it that all the trams in the downtown area were out of service due to rain and thunder, which made me 40 minutes late), I was more than slightly ticked off. What made it worse was the violent wind that accompanied the rain as if it was a bodyguard. Got an umbrella? The wind ripped it apart in an instant, and my two-week old shield was forced to retire after a short life.

As a result of the persistent rain, I hadn’t been exploring this week, except for last Sunday night, when I was out near Quinconces during a short period of time that was free of rain. I took a few quick photos, because Bordeaux is beautiful at night.

This was actually taken almost two weeks ago, on the day when I went to the Blaye/Bourg wine tasting tour. It was the last night of the “foire”, something like a carnival or a fair. The column on the left is the Colonne des Girondins, featured several weeks earlier, accompanied by the giant Ferris wheel that was present at the fair.

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Of strikes, wine, and cheese

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.

Inside the Grand Theatre

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.

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