On Tuesday (10/4/2012) we got up early, the earliest we have to date on our trip, and we were in the car driving by 7:30am. This was quite an achievement! We were off to Bordeaux and three hours later we arrived in this amazing city. Even just driving around the old city you see splendid 18th or 19th century buildings lining the roads. We parked in the centre of town (NZ$35 for the afternoon) and right outside our car park was the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
For the first hour the rain held off but then it let loose. Karen and I tend to be happy walking through the old city streets even if we don’t do much else, as long as the walking is punctuated by coffee stops. In Bordeaux we were able to get a lot of walking in on the way to attractions that were closed. Our first coffee stop had lovely warm outside heaters which we enjoyed. Note the photo below I had two coffee’s – we mistakenly ordered three coffee’s for Karen and I. Never mind. [Karen says “On the way to Bordeaux the attendant at the petrol station asked me to speak in English because she didn’t understand my French, then the bartender obviously didn’t understand me! This French language isn’t that easy!]
First we walked to the Museum of Decorative Arts, in the rain, to find it closed. By the way when I say ‘walked to’ that doesn’t mean taking the most direct route but rather following a maze of streets leading in the approximate direction we intended to go. Then, after more instructions from locals, we headed for the Museum of Fine Arts which was also closed. By this time we were drenched (we had thrown out our umbrella at the start of our walk-about as it broke just when we needed it most).
Amy’s hands were freezing and she was dripping wet but still in good spirit. I figured we had about 10 minutes before the kids would run out of steam so we had to walk fast. Our next attempt for a dry place to visit was the Museum of Antiquities. Amazingly it was open. Not only that it was free! And it had toilets … which were also free. I was excited to find the museum had its own star-gate for inter-planetary transportation (see photo below).
It was getting late so we asked a guy at the museum where a good place to eat would be. He explained where and off we went looking for it. When we reached the end of the long street Rue Ste Catherine where the restaurant was supposed to be we found McDonald’s but not the recommended restaurant. In fact McD’s was at the opposite end of Rue Ste Catherine and was right where we had intentionally decided to avoid (Which just proves you can never get away from McDs even if you try!)
With all my might we pulled ourselves from the McD’s gravitational field and set off again along Rue Ste Catherine. It was a nice street to walk along and as the rain had eased off it was busy with people. We walked for about 3 hours, okay maybe only 15 minutes or so, then reached the opposite end and you wouldn’t believe it – there was another McD’s! As tempting as it was we managed to ask at a shop for directions to the restaurant we had wanted and found it was only a block away.
As we were walking the kids noticed a merry-go-around that looked just like the one we found outside our car park. Could it be that we were right back at where we started the journey? It was still raining a little so we were pleased to finally locate the restaurant but – yes you guessed it – it was closed! You just have to laugh, in the rain …
So the restaurant next door looked pretty good to me. At that time there was a bunch of youthful adults leaving so I asked them (in English of course) if the food was good and lo-and-behold they not only spoke English but they were all from New Zealand.
The rain had got heavier and we contemplated staying the night in a hotel but after finding out the next day would also be raining I decided I had had enough of the rain and we would drive home – much to the kids’ disappointment. I had really wanted to drive to the beach the next day and also visit, climb, the biggest, highest, sand dunes in Europe, some 120 metres high. Evidently they have doubled in size in the past 500 years! But without the sun that wasn’t going to happen.
Despite all the rain we all loved the city of Bordeaux and it is definitely a place we would like to come back to in the future. The grand old buildings are amazing with golden walls and grey slate roofs helping Bordeaux to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world.