Annie Bananie en Europe

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Saturday in Sarlat

Last weekend, I was planning to go to La Rochelle with some of the ladies, but due to some unexpected changes in scheduling, it had to be cancelled. Boo šŸ˜¦ I was extremely looking forward to it too!

So what did I do? I moved the trip to Sarlat with my friend ahead by a week. It was originally planned for next Saturday, but construction work on the railway on that day made it so that it’d take three and a half hours to get to Sarlat from Bordeaux instead of the usual two and a half, WITH a transfer to “autocar” (or bus) in Bergerac. If we went on the 12th, it would be an earlier, direct train, giving us the advantage of convenience and WAY more time in the town than expected. Score! No La Rochelle, no problem!

Sarlat, or Sarlat-la-CanĆ©da, is a medieval town in the Dordogne department in south-western France, a place known for its unspoiled countryside and villages. It is situated in what’s known as the PĆ©rigord region, which is further divided into four parts: black, green, purple, and white (PĆ©rigord noir, vert, pourpre, and blanc respectively in French). The four colours each describes a different characteristic of the regions they represent – black for the oak trees and chestnut trees, green for the hillside and meadows, purple for the luxurious wine, and white for the limestone plateaux. Sarlat is in black PĆ©rigord, the most famous and popular among tourists out of the four regions. (References here and here.)

Our journey started at 7:03 in the morning – on a Saturday! For a night owl like me who struggles to get out of bed even at 8:30, it was quite a challenge to start getting ready at 5:45 and take the 6:29 bus to the train station to catch the train. But both of us made it despite worrying that we’d oversleep! Heh, a 2.5-hour train ride gave us sufficient time to rest before reaching our destination, and we certainly took full advantage of that. Allons-y šŸ˜‰

The walk from the train station to the old town of Sarlat took a good 15 minutes or so. Bright red wild flowers were in full bloom along the road, adding such vibrant contrast to the scenery.

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And I thought the strike was over

Today, Sunday, December 19, 2010, is the third consecutive day of the public transit strike in the city of Bordeaux. Now, I wouldn’t mind if the strike reduced tram and bus frequencies; we’d just be waiting a bit longer and have trams that are more packed than usual. But no. Our dear French friends decided that it would be a good idea to paralyse the public transit system by shutting down 2 of the 3 tram lines. The operating line would have one tram every 15 to 20 minutes. In addition, only about 5 bus lines out of 100 were running. This lasted two days and is continuing today.

Not cool, man, not cool.

The consequence was that I had to walk to work on Friday, which actually wasn’t all that bad. Normally it took 12 minutes or so via tram, so walking only took 35 minutes. However, walking over to Pessac from downtown Bordeaux on Saturday for my Christian fellowship meeting and Christmas gathering rehearsal wasn’t such a great idea. It takes 25 minutes by tram, and it would have taken an hour and a half or more if I were to walk. Uh oh.

Well, a friend came up with the unusual yet brilliant idea of taking the train. Not tram train – the REAL train. It didn’t occur me that there would be trains running from downtown Bordeaux to Pessac, but alas, there were…and it would only take 5 minutes to get there. I still had to do a bit of walking though, as getting to the train station on foot from my house took half an hour, and walking to the meeting place from the Pessac train station took another 15 minutes. Still better than walking for an hour and a half.

So the trip consisted of the shortest train ride I have ever been on, literally 5 minutes from origin to destination. At least SNCF wasn’t on strike at the same time…thank you for being considerate, my French friends.

The week in review: it snowed again, although only for a very short period of time, which didn’t allow the snow to accumulate. Friday at work was the lab Christmas lunch, where a potluck was held. My contribution was, of course, the cheesecake that had been successful last week. There was also a fun gifts exchange, elaborated below. On Saturday we had our weekly fellowship meeting, which took place smoothly despite the traffic interruptions. I brought tea cake to the gathering (pics to follow) – yes, tea cake actually exists, Andrew.

First snow of the year, about a month ago, when I was still staying in Talence. This was enough to halt the the public transit system. It was apparent that Bordeaux is not designed to handle any snow beyond what is shown here – a very delicate city, indeed. Lots of trouble that day…

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