So, this is how good Abdel is.
He has already been a wicked host and gone over and above for us and is one of the most easy to get along with guys that you can imagine.
Today, however, we have to be up at 5:30 to be able to make it to our bus in time.
Instead of just letting us see ourselves out, Abdel wakes up at 5:30 with us, purely so that he can have breakfast with us and see us off. What an absolute legend right?
We get up, shower and have brekky and coffees with Abdel and made our way out the door, to the bus station.
The half hour walk wasn’t too bad with the crisp morning air, so we arrived feeling somewhat perked up.
We board the bus, and I start blogging while Bec sleeps. We drift in and out of sleep, and Bec opens her eyes, looks at me funny, and says “We’re in France”. We had literally just crossed the border. No exaggeration. Within the last 3-4 minutes, and you could already tell.
Its so odd.
I remember having the same realisation when we were driving between South Australia and Victoria. Even the landscape seemed different.
The sun rises higher in the sky, and we have to make a switch in a smaller town onto a new bus which will take us to Bordeaux. But! That bus is still a good hour or so away. So, we decide to hit up a cafe for the next hour or two while I blog. The cafe owners are super nice and chill. Always smiles, and being that this is our first interaction with the French, we were pleasantly surprised. Literally everyone we have spoken with back in Australia has said that the French are some of the rudest people they have met.
But, these guys are super nice, smiles all round, and just generally polite.
We grab a couple beers and smash back our bevvys in the park, because we can, and its not Australia. We jump on the bus, and I get blogging again. We have got another few hours on the bus yet. The seats are comfy as hell too, so being that the bus isn’t packed, we make the most of laying them back as far as is physically possible. We get to the second to last stop, and the bus driver tells us that this is our stop.
This is going to be a pain in the ass if we have to get off here, but this is apparently where we have booked our ticket to.
He lets us know that he shouldn’t be taking us any further but he is going to do it for us this time. We try to thank him a few times, but he just turns and walks away. So our first impression of French is nice and sweet, and the next interaction is kind, but kinda rude in it’s delivery. All goods though, I mean the guy did us a big favour.
We arrive at the centre bus station, and its all going on.
There is a piano in the corner that his bloke is tinkering on, and it almost looks like the other pianist joining him has just invited himself to play the instrument with the other bloke.
…aaaaaand that is about all that is going on, actually…
But its kinda cool.
We find the bus to the Couch surfers we need to get to, and pile on with our gargantuan packs and try to organise ourselves in front of the entire Bordeaux population, who all decided to ride this particular bus today. Mildly successful, if I may say so.
We walk form the bus station to where our hosts live, and we have the info on the CS chat, but we don’t have downloaded, so we need to connect to the wifi. The caretaker of the apartments takes is upon himself to help us out, but being that all the information we have about who we are staying with is on the internet, this makes it hard to explain who it is we are looking for.
Oh! And they only moved to Bordeaux 2 weeks ago, so the caretake probably doesn’t even know who they are anyway.
None the less, our honed charades skills come into play. That, combined with the Google translate app, we try to explain to him that we need to connect to wifi. He tells us that we have wifi, but I don’t think that he could understand that we needed to connect to the wifi. Either that, or he just didn’t want us to, so he just played dumb. Not sure which is which.
Either way, Bec stayed with our bags, while I took her phone and ran around the block looking for somewhere to connect.
I’m hardly looking where I am going. Just running around, and when you see that there is the tiniest bit of wifi connection, you have to decide which direction you need to head to be able to get a stronger signal. You never can tell. Of all places, I find wifi at a servo, download the info we need, run back to meet Bec, and scoop her up on our way to see our hosts.
We get on the buzzer, and let them know that we are here from Couch Surfing. They buzz us in, but we are a little too slow, pushing and pulling on the handle of the door, looking like raging chimpanzees, trying to figure out how to get in before the buzzer stops buzzing.
Our host, Jerome, put two and two together, and soon enough, we heard him running down the steps to welcome us in. We are greeted with the usual surprised look of how much stuff we have with us, as we shows us up to his place and we place our stuff down in the living room. His wife, Nehemy is still at work, so we just hang and chat and get to know each other till she arrives back from work.
We are hanging out in the living room, then Jerome tells us that his mate, Jules is going to come around too. No sooner than he had mentioned it, does the buzzer sound, and Jules is on his way up. Jules is definitely a good looking lad. From what I can remember, he’s in a bank, in Bordeaux, and he and Jerome go way back as mates. Its more coincidence that they are in the same city.
Jerome needs to get some work done, so after the officials, and a beer or two, Jules offers to take us into the centre of Bordeaux. He’s an absolute lad, and takes us right into the heart of the city. I mean, the guy has already knocked off, and now he is just taking time out of his day to show us around the city.
We walk down the main street, and he shows us all the things that we need to see. We get talking with him about the situation that the French are in, and where things are headed. He tells us about Paris and it’s architecture and how it is has shaped the city as a whole, and since then, how other places in France have changed too.
For someone in banking, he certainly has a good grip on his home country.
Naturally, Jules has his own wife to get to, and a very pregnant wife, at that, so he has to get on his way. But, it is awesome that he took time out of his own day to show us around Bordeaux.
Its actually very interesting with French people. The stereotype is that they are rude and obnoxious, but so far, we have only had smiles and generosity. Admittedly, we haven’t spent much time in France yet, but so far, we love the countryside, the city, and the people seem to be generous and kind.
So, from what I can tell, Bordeaux seems to be pretty good.
We let Jerome and Nehemy know where we are waiting, Jerome gets on his way, and we perch ourselves out the front of the apple store while we wait for them. 15 mins later, they arrive on their bikes, and we get on our way to see bordeaux.
We wander through the city, and find ourselves near the banks of the river, and we see what is the coolest thing, I think I have ever seen in a city. Naturally, it gets hot in France over summer too, right? So, the city has got this big free area which is just a huge open platform, with cracks where water sprays out from, creating a fine mist, which lightens the air a little.
It is so perfect, and being that it is a pretty warm day, we kick the thongs off and refresh out feet with the mist. Its almost like a fog just lurking over the square. The green grassy areas of the city are just utterly laden with people, occupying every decent piece of grass that they can. From what we are told, super sunny days in France are not really common, so everyone jumps at the chance to laze in the sun.
The whole city of Bordeaux came out to catch some of the sun. Everywhere you look, it is packed.
We wander through the city, and I suggest that we should get a glass with Nehemy and Jerome. Nehemy is particularly excited, so I know that I am on the right track.
…except I wasn’t on the right track.
In France, how we would pronounce Glass, is spelt Glace in French. The catch is that Glace means Ice Cream. So Nehemy has just finished work, and has enjoyed a hot French day, and is keen for Ice Cream. I am keen to try some bordeaux wine, so when we find a wine bar, I ask her if we should go in, and I get this hesitantly odd look from her.
Naturally, I am thinking that she wants to drink a glass with us.
Oddly, she thinks we want to eat an ice cream with us.
In my mind, this is perfect for what she wants.
In her mind, this is not where Ice Cream is eaten.
Awkwardly, she complies, and we ended up having a great time tasting french wine, meats and cheese. The food is really really amazing and we polished off an absolutely divine board of taste testers, and drank a good amount of wine. The wine is full of flavour, and the meats and cheese are so deliciously creamy, its not even funny.
We get talking about cultures and the English in French, and Nehemy shows us that the French cannot say the sound “TH”. In the French language has no sounds where the tongue passes the teeth when talking, so the professors always tell their students to use a “S” sound where you would use a “th” sound. We laugh and make Jerome say all kinds of English words, to see if there is anything else that his English teachers have led him astray on.
Nehemy is having a grand time, while Jerome is growing more and more conscious of how his tongue can’t make the right sounds it’s meant to make. We cut him some slack and call it a day with the language barrier joke.
We head home, and he guys have got bikes, so we walk while they ride.
Bec is making dinner for tonight, so we swing by a grocery store, and head home. It takes us way quicker to get upstair this time, as we walk up the stairs. Bec gets started on dinner, and I get chatting with the guys. Jerome has a sweet collection of Records, and he even shows me his Roliflex that he has, and the zoom attachments is usually 800 euro to buy on its own.
He was working with an old guy, who had all this stuff in his possession, so he gave this bloke his medium format equipment. It is expensive , so he kept what he want, and sold the rest, and make some good $$.
Dinner is ready, so we sit and get ready to eat, then Jules knocks back at the door.
We are a little confused, and it turns out that he had told his ver pregnant wife that he was going to find a car space to park in, so he told his wife that he was going to find a park, and just ended up come to Jerome & Nehemy’s place for a drink instead. He just wanted to hang out with Jerome.
Its so funny.
Soon enough, Jules’ wife messaged him first, soon to be followed by a message to Jerome, from Jules’ wife, and she knew that he would just run of to have a beer with Jerome. Absolutely hilarious.
We eat dinner and head to bed. Bordeaux has been great, and we have loved our introduction to France.
Come back for the next story,