MY FRENCH CONNECTIONS

I’m a bit hesitant to write this post because I am not sure I can describe my weekend in France in such a way that fully allows readers to understand the extent of the wow factor I felt while there.  But I have plenty of pics to help me show and tell so hopefully between the two of us we can paint the full picture of my experience.

The first thing I did after being collected at the airport was try and climb into the driver’s seat of the car!  Then I spent the entire drive home wanting to tell Bryan that he was on the wrong side of the road.  That also happened on my last holiday to France when my friend and I actually drove from France to Spain over the Pyrenees.  She drove, I tried to be a stable and conscientious wing-woman which I would have done even better if I could read the signs.  Luckily our GPS lady spoke English otherwise who knows where we would be now.  Anyway, I digress.

So the friends I visited rent their home out for AirBnB and it is stunning! I felt like I was in a 5 star resort!

My bedroom
My bedroom
The entertainment area outside
The entertainment area outside

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It is about 60kms outside of Bordeaux in a sleepy little fishing village called Teste-de-Buch.  There is a marina there and oyster farming is rife.  Unfortunately oysters are the ONE thing (besides avocado that I do not eat).  I cannot eat snot, even if it is laced with Tabasco!

The first thing we did was go down to the market which was a complete assault on my senses (in a good way).  Not only was there so much to see and smell but everyone was speaking French and it truly is a beautiful language to listen to.  After being in London where going to a market is an event, it was so awesome to see this one.  It was inside but every ‘stall’ had the most amazing displays.  Cheese, seafood, meats, breads, vegetables, fruit.  So many colours and smells – so fresh and tantalising.

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We must have spent about an hour there choosing various things and from then we did not stop eating.  Each meal was magnificent, even the simple fish stew – or should I say bouillabaisse – that we had that first evening after a whole day of eating.

Our first meal – can you spot the snails, the crab and the scallops?
This is me trying to figure out how to get the meat out of the crab. Apparently a hammer is needed!!! No jokes.
This is me trying to figure out how to get the meat out of the crab. Apparently a hammer is needed!!! No jokes. That bowl on the far right corner is home-made mayo – called aioli (egg, olive oil and garlic). I wanted to eat it on its own!

So that was the first day.  Except for a quick trip to the beach because they wanted to show me the highest sand-dune in Europe.  It was pretty impressive and next time we will actually climb it!  Was far too full to contemplate anything quite so strenuous.

Me and the highest sand-dune in all of Europe behind me.
Me and the highest sand-dune in all of Europe behind me.
Bryan at the harbour showing me his boat. No, they aren't all his. It reminded me of Dexter
Bryan at the harbour showing me his boat. No, they aren’t all his. It reminded me of Dexter
Half of me trying to capture the stunning view. Unfortunately was grey and getting dark so not the best but it sure is beautiful there.
Half of me trying to capture the stunning view. Unfortunately was grey and getting dark so not the best but it sure is beautiful there.
Such an amazing spot, hope to go back in summer!
Such an amazing spot, hope to go back in summer!
After dinner fire – we almost lost the bellows as Bryan had not realised that were still in the fireplace when he lit the fire. Luckily Fan Fan noticed!!
Another after dinner surprise - was SOOOO good to have regte egter biltong again!
Another after dinner surprise – was SOOOO good to have regte egter biltong again!

The next day we woke up late and had 2 full meals before going anywhere.

Breakfast - with freshly squeezed orange, carrot and ginger juice!
Breakfast – with freshly squeezed orange, carrot and ginger juice!
Lunch - more seafood of varying state of cooked.
Lunch – more seafood of varying state of cooked.
My plate - best alfalfa salad I've ever eaten. OK, the ONLY one I've ever eaten.
My plate – best alfalfa salad I’ve ever eaten. OK, the ONLY one I’ve ever eaten.

We had so much food it was a requirement to do this first!  We spent the evening in Bordeaux which was so much fun.  First amazing new site was that the train we caught into town was in the middle of the street.  So it’s called a tram.  I know that sounds a bit juvenile but I’ve always imagined a tram in a street to be open on the sides with people standing, hanging out on the edges.  This was an actual train in an actual street.  Such a good idea.

Look! Train in the street! So exciting!!!
Look! Train in the street! So exciting!!!
So excited I had to take train pics!
So excited I had to take train pics!

We were all desperate for Jagie Bombs and could not find a place that had them anywhere.  Eventually we happened upon ye old English pub called The Charles Dickens – couldn’t get more English than that right.  We excitedly finished 2 each.  Bloody rude though, they didn’t put the jagie into the glass for us – it was DIY style but we were fine with that.  Stayed there for a couple more then went in search of food.  Found an amazing Italian pizza place they had been told about and at 7:30 were told it was too early and to come back at 8!!

Beautiful street in Bordeaux
Beautiful street in Bordeaux

So we wandered around some more and then went back.  So glad we did because the pizza was SO good!

One more food pic, sorry!
One more food pic, sorry!
I had to take a picture of the toilet. Notice the chair next to it. Is that to keep the wee'er company? Classic!
I had to take a picture of the toilet. Notice the chair next to it. Is that to keep the wee’er company? Classic!
The end of the night! Lots of grappa and grapefruit schnapps and I think even Sambuca!
The end of the night! Lots of grappa and grapefruit schnapps and I think even Sambuca!

Now I’ve had a few drinks and starting to get confused.  Everyone speaking French in an Italian restaurant, then friends arrive, no one speaks English so everything I say has to be translated by Bryan or Fan Fan – who are struggling to think in English too because they have been el Franco for so long themselves.  Everyone is getting pissed.  It was quite comedic.  I don’t remember the drive home, but luckily none of us were driving.  Thanks Mr Tram Driver.

We had saved Sunday to go and see the newly opened La Cité de Vin (Wine Museum).  Opened in June this year, is a world-class museum with remarkable architecture, meant to be built that way to look like a swirling glass of wine: Chardonnay I would say … it is a spectacular voyage through time, history and the cultures of the world to learn about wine.  There are many exhibitions, most of which are interactive and multi-sensory.  Every visitor gets a head set which is programmed to language of choice which delivers real-time explanations depending on where you are on the tour.

Notice the swirl - pretty cool huh!
Notice the swirl – pretty cool huh!

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Very surprised to find Wolftrap there!
Very surprised to find Wolftrap there!

In typical style of the weekend we went upstairs to eat and do the wine tasting first.

This is the new way of getting the wine list!
This is the new way of getting the wine list!
Wine-taste. Can't really be called a tasting as we were allowed one sip free with ticket. Probably for the best.
Wine-taste. Can’t really be called a tasting as we were allowed one sip free with ticket. Probably for the best.

This was the only time I regretted sitting down to a meal and enjoying a wine tasting because it left us with very little time to do the tour and you literally need about 10 hours to do it properly.  It really is a must see for anyone going even close to Bordeaux, but don’t plan to do anything else that day!

Part of the ancient section - who would have thought that the Egyptians invented wine?
Part of the ancient section – who would have thought that the Egyptians invented wine?
Huge screens for watching more about the history of wine
Huge screens for watching more about the history of wine
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You cant see from this picture but all of these people are actually moving and talking – it looks so real in real life
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These were the smelly portals – the one far right is a leather glove smell. Not sure I’ve EVER had wine that smelled like leather? Far right is coffee. There were about 50 different smells going there. Fascinating.
Wine colours
Wine colours
My pictures didn't come out well because it was so dark but hoping this one at least shows the magnificence of some of the walkabout
My pictures didn’t come out well because it was so dark but hoping this one at least shows the magnificence of some of the walkabout
Waiting for the tram again.
Waiting for the tram again.
Had to take an autumn tree picture
Had to take an autumn tree picture
And a beautiful church - the clean side. This church is so big that they clean it all year but it means that it is never all clean because it is just too big
And a beautiful church – the clean side. This church is so big that they clean it all year but it means that it is never all clean because it is just too big

The last leg of the trip was a bit hair-raising as we were cutting it fine as it was.  I get to the front of a LONG queue only to be told that I was at the wrong terminal – it was now 3:50 and my plane was leaving at 4:30.  I had to run all the way to the other terminal which wasn’t even in the same building.  Starting to panic!  Get there, and the queue is snaking out the door.  Panicking even more.  So I ran to a guard and showed him my ticket – don’t forget that even in the airport, no-one speaks English.  I said Gatwick and showed him my ticket with the time and he let me through to a queue that was not as long but still pretty snaky.  Anyway, long story short the plane was delayed – never been so happy about that – and I managed to make it with time to spare.  But those 20 minutes of freak-out were not good for my psyche.  I definitely prefer to be bored for 2 hours than the other way around.  I’m that traveller.

The Universe sent me this view on the way home, the beginnings of the Super Moon.  Does not look big in the picture but it was very close, very surreal, very beautiful setting.

Window seat - yay!
Window seat – yay!

My very first adventure off English soil since I have been here and it was a success.  I ate excellent food, drank excellent wine and enjoyed brilliant company, got drunk but still got some culture in; couldn’t have asked for more.

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