Friday, June 3, 2016

Goodbye Dijon, Bonjour Bordeaux

Got out of Dijon easily enough, though once again the French tendency to either not label things or to label them ambiguously caused me some confusion; at Dijon the platforms are letters, not numbers; my train was at 'I', which of course I thought was a '1', since every other fucking station I've been in uses number and not letters. Hence my confusion when I was looking for a '1' and was finding only letters – that, by the way, didn't even go up to 'I' on most of the signs.

But I got there eventually. An hour and a half (or so) later and I was back in Paris. The train to Bordeaux left from a different station (not unreasonable; Bordeaux is on the other side of the country) so I had to get from the one I arrived at (Gare de Lyon) to the other (Gare Montparnasse). And, unlike some of the other stations, there's isn't a metro line that goes directly from one to the other; you either have to catch a metro to a connecting station on a line that would then go to Montparnasse, or catch a bus.

A couple of different sources indicated that the bus would be the fastest way and – given my experience with stations had actually led to me thinking I would always need a fair bit of time to navigate around one I hadn't been to – that seemed like the most sensible option. So, I trudged off down the road from Gare de Lyon to the bus stop, and, when it arrived, got onto the number 91 bus.

It's quite a way from one to the other – twelve bus stops all up. And it was more than a little stuffy on the bus. But I got to Montparnasse with plenty of time. Too much time, in fact; they don't announce the platform your train is at until about twenty minutes before your departure, and mine wasn't until 12.24. I therefore had to occupy myself for a while until then.

The first thing I wanted to do was use the toilet, so I followed the signs around. And around. And around. Until they stopped. At a corner of the building that wasn't a toilet. Well, technically; I suppose I could have used it as one and argued my point (which was tempting), but I didn't. Sigh. I'd just have to wait until the train (which has them on board). And, annoyingly, I wasn't terribly hungry, so I couldn't even kill time eating.

Eventually my platform came up, and I then had to deal with the fun numbering system they use on the carriages, which is generally in very small text. Found mine, and went in. Huh. This was not as nice as either the one too or from Dijon, and was in a seat the faced another seat – which I imagine is okay if you're sitting opposite someone you know and can navigate successful foot placement, but I'm by myself. So I'm now left with my feet sticking out in the aisle because that approximately 5'2" French woman opposite me can't fit hers on her own side.

And this, mind you, is first class. I think I'll get to experience 2nd when I go from Tours to Paris.

I wandered down to the club car to get some food but the lineup was long and I couldn't be bothered. I was hungry by now, but I'd eaten a fairly solid breakfast (pain raisin – croissant dough with sultanas and spices in it – is very tasty) so I wasn't going to pass out or anything. It doesn't help that it's really stupidly designed – the counter is at one end, so the queue forms next to it – but the passage is so narrow that, if you want to join it and you're coming from the opposite from the counter, you have to smoosh past all the people currently in the queue. And of course there's only one person behind it. 

I'll just gave to get something once I arrive in Bordeaux. At least I can be fairly sure there'll be food places around; it's France.

Dammit. I should have bought another bag of vending machine madeleines.

I arrived in Bordeaux, bought a tram ticket from the counter, jumped on the C tram until it reached a point where it had a stop near a B tram and then jumped from one to the other. No, not literally. And then wandered down to find my hotel. After leaving my stuff in my room, I went wandering.

It was so damn busy in Bordeaux on a Saturday afternoon. I couldn't believe it. It was more crowded than anywhere I'd been in Paris.

Once I got out of the main shopping/café district things got a little more sensible.

There were a couple of massive cruise ships moored by the river.


I'm assuming 'séance' means something different in French, or this is super damn creepy, particularly with that picture prompting me to ask 'which one's the ghost'? [Yes, it means 'meeting'.]

My shadow makes an appearance.

Some more bulldog stalking. There were a few around in Bordeaux.

I'm not entirely sure what plants have in common with Star Wars – or whether Disney is aware of this particular piece of marketing. Eh, I won't tell if you won't.

There was a wee stone circle.

This rather impressive church is Bordeaux Cathedral, or as the locals call it, Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux. I'll go into it at some point.

About now I decided it was time for dinner. I found a place that looked okay, ordered what I thought sounded exotic, Pavé de bœuf – which turned out to be steak. But it was a good steak, and it came with a local sauce (bordelaise) which was tasty. And some of the best chips I think I've ever had.

And then I wandered around some more.

This thing is part of the Bordeaux courthouse. No, I don't know what it's meant to be.

The part of the courthouse that looks like a courthouse.

The huge door to my hotel.

My street.

...and my door from further back.

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