April 20-21, 2000
My course has changed, for several reasons, taking me across France back to the Western coast for a business meeting in Nantes with some days to spare.
This town, Bordeaux, has a sleepy, quiet and dry feeling about it's streets, which may be perfect if you are a young grape aspiring to grow up to become part of one of the world's finest and most famous wines.
However, I am not a grape and find Bordeaux earning it's name for the most part (Bored-O). Giving a little time around town, I found something more interesting than the garbage trucks, which not only dumped out the trash, but also rinsed each trash can with warm soapy water leaving sudsy runs down the streets. The old area of town more suitable for a pleasant afternoon saunter.
A few historical homes you walk past without thinking much besides how did this deserve a dot up on the map. Where a statue of the king once stood, there is a replacement of dancing women that took this mount during the revolution.
An old square is now a flea market. Upon approach, I thought how tacky this is going to be, but am pleasantly surprised by amazing displays of antiques for sale. Entire rooms are set up under the tents and much of the goods need just a little work, giving that authentic feeling that they have just been taken from a ransacked fortress.
This is entering into Northern France and the people are becoming subtly more friendly.
On my way back, I stop at a cafe where I enter a great discussion with an older English chap who is a wine-exporter and ex-patriot now living in Bordeaux. He agrees this is not an exciting place and while people generally complain about the traffic of a city, that's what really makes a city a city. We talk about racism, and while I slightly disagree, it's not worth articulating. He tells me how England's laws are getting too oppressive, much like in America; however, not as bad as in Germany. This feeling was echoed again from another I met while on the ferry over to England - the closer to England, the more I learn that this is a country with it's problems too; however, I have not yet met an English person on the trip that I hasn't had a wonderful personality. ("you've been lucky," I'm told. this would change as I meet more and more... )
I stay at a hostel tonight and my roommates are a bunch of French guys in their early 20s drinking and smoking who knows what. They agree about Bordeaux using the best of their English, "sheet 'ole."
They were all friendly and one spoke of his home town, La Rochelle. Since it was right on my path, I decided to check out a day earlier and chug into his town on hearsay.