Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bordeaux - lots of wine but no water!

I'm back in Paris after the long weekend visiting Bordeaux and hanging out with Yvonne. The weekend was quite successful - we wandered the streets of Bordeaux city, went wine tasting, saw the town of Saint Emilion, enjoyed some much appreciated sunshine and warming temperatures, and consumed lots of food and wine. However, one major issue bugged us the entire weekend. None of the water in any of the city's numerous fountains, including one major attraction I was hoping to see, was turned on. It really irked us and we wondered without an answer all weekend when the water would be turned on - a serious failure of the city in our eyes :)

The not yet edited photos from the weekend are here for viewing. Keep reading for some more details.

I was hoping to see the massive reflecting pool in front of the Place de la Bourse which is highlighted in many of the photos that you see of Bordeaux. Well, total fail. So we bought post cards and that will have to do. Here's what we missed out on. We did take a selfie anyway. Also, there are quite a few fountains throughout the city so all of the pictures are a bit empty and we just had to envision what it would look like with the water. I guess we'll have to come back when it is truly summer and experience it for real.

Bordeaux at one point in time was I think the largest port and second largest city in France. Now it's the largest wine producing region in France. The history dates back before the Romans - you can see various years of architecture in the churches, gates, and other buildings across the city. It's all quite beautiful even if most of the churches feel cavernous and cold. All along the waterfront the buildings are essentially identical making it a nice view up and down the river.  For a real history lesson read here. The waterfront doc area was revitalized like 20 or so years ago and the actual docs have been moved so now they have a very nice walking/running/biking path along the area.

Saturday we'd booked into a wine tasting tour to Saint Emilion and Pomerol wine regions and that also went to the small town of Saint Emilion. Another town that's been around for ages - it's named for a hermit (Emilion) who wandered along til he found a cave here in the rocks in the 8th century. We didn't really have any sun during the day so the pictures won't be all that great, but the town is very cute with narrow little streets that wind up and down hills, outdoor cafes, and of course a load of wine shops.  We did one wine tasting at Chateau de Sales in Pomerol, then had a tour of the town, had a bit of lunch and a quick tasting in one of the wine shops, and then went to another winery in Saint Emilion called Chateau la Croizille. Neither winery had wines that wowed me and most tastings just all tasted the same but attempted to learn a few things about French wines and the wine making process. I had no idea that they use egg whites to clarify the wine because the compounds are attracted to the egg whites and then collect and settle on the bottom of the barrel. We also saw some Kosher wine being made at one of the places - the steel tank it was in was wrapped with what looked like haz-mat materials so that no one would touch it - only the Rabbi. We also continued to taste and enjoy wine at as many meals during the day as possible. We were quite successful at that.

View over Saint Emilion

Wine line up at Chateau de Sales

Sunday (Easter Sunday) and Monday the sun came out and we spent all of Sunday wandering around the city, taking photos, seeing a lot of churches, and enjoying a leisurely lunch, with wine of course - rose for this occasion, out in the sun along the waterfront. The number of people out and about along the water on Sunday was quite amazing. It was absolutely packed! I guess everyone had the same idea as us which was to be outside as much as possible.

Monday afternoon I boarded a packed train back to Paris. An easy three and a half hour journey into the city. Whenever I take trains, especially in Europe, I'm reminded how easy a form of transportation they can be. I could have flown to Bordeaux and potentially for cheaper than my train ticket but the ease of just hoping over to the station and being right in the city both in Paris and Bordeaux was so nice. I'm looking forward to more train travel over the next two months.

I had no hotel accommodation back in Paris until I finally booked something on Sunday afternoon - but found a cute little hotel in Montmarte called Hotel Josephine. I really wanted to be in Montmarte so that I could explore the area, check out Sacre Coeur but little did I know it's just two blocks from the Moulin Rouge and variety of sex shops, clubs, etc. Feels like North Beach! I wandered up there last night and there were bus loads of tourists being let off to take photos of the famed lights and windmill of Moulin Rouge. So I did the same...

Capturing the neon of Moulin Rouge

More wanderings and observations of Paris to come (I've been keeping a running list that perhaps I'll start to share in the next post)... oh, yeah and I have that little Marathon thing coming up. Ran almost 7 miles this morning, just about 20 more and I'll be good to go on Sunday. The weather is looking much sunnier and warmer over the next week than I initially thought it was going to be so quite excited about that.

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