Just when you thought my inane chatter had finally come to an end…
This weekend, after a few weeks of scheming with his flatmates, I made a little surprise trip back to Bristol for my boyfriend’s 21st. Apart from initial concerns that I had given him a stroke/heart attack when he first saw me, the whole weekend went smoothly, if not far too quickly.
To fly directly to Bristol at this time of year I had to catch a train out to Toulouse, which was pretty easy, although being the stinge that I am I took the cheapest train which left Bordeaux at 7.30 on Friday morning. There wasn’t even a hint of sunlight at that time. I was then inevitably hideously early for my 1.45 flight but thankfully there’s unlimited free wifi at Toulouse airport, and a clear view over to the Airbus factory. I managed to spot a Beluga and a couple of A380s (best plane ever) during my wait, very exciting (maybe just for me though).
After a speedy flight and speedier exit from the airport (don’t knock travelling alone, you encounter less problems like family members inexplicably wanting to join the traditional customs queue instead of zipping through the e-passport one) I managed to get myself to Will’s house just before he got back from his lecture, mission complete.
On Friday night there was a party at Will’s to celebrate the multiple birthdays happening in the house. Gold star for effort on the decorations guys. Everyone had a great night, and I found that 24 hours without sleep is a cheap and efficient alternative to alcohol. There’s a handy tip for any of you feeling the pinch towards the end of term.
On Saturday I was lucky enough to be a guest on my former flatmates’ radio show on Burst Radio, Bristol Uni’s student radio. You can listen to the show here until Saturday 8th I believe.
The rest of the weekend flew by and before I knew it I was back at Toulouse airport with an ominous 4 hour wait until my late train (yes, stingy again). I managed to nab myself a seat in the crowded station where I settled down with Stephen Fry’s autobiography for a few hours. This caught the interest of some bold Toulousains who, like most French citizens it would seem, have never seen a Kindle before, prompting a barrage of questions about what it was, how it worked, what you can put on it, how much it costs etc.etc. Amazon should give me commission for the persuasive skills I put to use (and it was all in French, brownie points for me).
My train eventually arrived and after a comfy journey back I got into Bordeaux station at 9.20. Despite the torrential rain I remained in an upbeat mood knowing I’d be home by 10 at the latest. How wrong I was. After waiting 10 minutes for a tram, I then got off at my connecting stop to find the next tram heading to mine wouldn’t be for another half hour. Bare in mind that they’re usually every 4-6 minutes, maybe 15 if its late. Being very hungry and thirsty having not wanted to pay the extortionate food prices at the airport or station, I eventually found the only place open on a Sunday: McDonalds.
In an act of self-imposed martyrdom I decided to walk through the rain to Victoire tram stop since it would be marginally closer to home, where I found that my boots are no longer in any way waterproof. By the time I got home at 11 all I wanted to do was pass out on a sofa somewh…oh wait no. I had to make do with my trusty bargain wheely chair.
All in all though, I had an amazing weekend which was definitely worth the travel hassle, although it made me miss England at Christmas that much more. Thankfully, but also sadly, I only have a couple of weeks left here before heading back to the UK for a brief break before starting Year Abroad v2.0!
Finally, a massive sorry to everyone I said I’d see and didn’t manage to catch up with, I miss you all.
Sorry for taking even longer to write this post than the last one, especially Aaron who complained last night about the lack of updates on my life. So here it is:
Last week was half term in Bordeaux (yes even for the uni, win) so from Saturday to Wednesday I had the pleasure of having my family to visit. On Saturday I set off with a spring in my step towards the bus stop, having meticulously planned how to get to the airport in time to greet the fam. As we all know, nothing in Bordeaux tends to go as planned, and while the buses here are generally prompt if not early, the drivers themselves have the emotional capabilities of a robot. Having patiently waited for the 34, as it drove up I got up to stand by the curb, only to have the bus go straight past me while the driver looked me dead in the eye as I gestured angrily at him. Slightly put off but with time to spare, I sat and waited the 20 minutes for the next one.
This time, I was determined it was going to stop for me, and I waited practically in the road and waved my arm at the bus. Yet again it did not stop. It did, however, pull up at the next stop just down the road. I decided to wait there instead, and had far better luck, even having the driver of the 44 (which I ignored as it was going nowhere near the airport) pull over to try to persuade me to get on board. Maybe he was lonely. Anyway, I’m not sure if there’s some unspoken rule about buses in Bordeaux not stopping everywhere marked on the route, but long story short, I eventually got to the airport, and coincidentally just as my family were getting out of baggage reclaim.
They stayed at the Adagio in Gambetta, definitely recommended for anyone who has family coming to stay as it’s right in the middle of town. That night we had dinner at l’Entrecôte, where we even managed to fit dessert in. Still hands down my favourite restaurant ever.
During the night I was woken at about 2am by a loud explosion followed by the sound of gushing water. The boiler had chosen an opportune moment to explode, causing a stream of murky brown water to spread through the apartment and any chance of hot water to go out the window. Thankfully, my flatmate Simon is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades/MacGyver figure so managed to dig out some old tubing that my landlord had left in the laundry (thanks for being a cluttered mess Jean Marc) and rerouted the water into the shower opposite. This took about an hour, and was the same night that the clocks went back, meaning that I in fact went back to bed at the exact same time I got up so I just pretended the whole thing didn’t happen. It was only in the morning that I realised I’d have to shower at my parents’ hotel, but I’m lucky they were in town when it happened!
The next day we went for a drive to Arcachon to check out the town and have some lunch. I got to have oysters for the first time, which I guess are ok if you like paying a lot of money for a mouthful of cold fleshy seawater. Not my cup of tea it has to be said.
In the afternoon we went to the Dune de Pyla, which I had visited a few years ago on a school trip, but it still didn’t fail to impress me with it’s sheer size. When you tell people it’s a big sand dune, most people assume it’s a slightly jazzed-up version of West Wittering, but the Dune de Pyla is something else. Wikipedia has informed that it is 108m above sea level and holds 60,000,000 m³ of sand. So quite a lot. Here’s a couple of pictures for scale purposes.
On Monday we went to St Émilion where we got to taste some (what I have been told is) very nice wine, and I continued my trend of eating barely-cooked beef by having carpaccio at lunch. This trend carried on on Tuesday evening where I had steak tartare for dinner at Les Provinces (another good one to take parents to) which followed the biggest bowl of mussels I have ever seen in my life. Here’s some foodporn:
Tuesday was a general city-touring day, where my parents finally got to ride on the tram system that they had been fascinated by since their arrival. On Wednesday, we all headed back to the UK, although on marginally different flights it turns out, due to a minor miscommunication between my mum and myself. I’m not going to point the finger of blame at anyone. Having already been in a car, on a tram and a plane that day, from Luton it took me a further bus, train, tube and coach, plus 6 hours, to get to Bristol. But for the meagre price of £15 I really shouldn’t complain.
I stayed in Bristol until Saturday lunchtime, managing to cram in as much as possible with some of my favourite people, including a pub trip with a lot of old A Fry-ers, a catchup with a bellydance friend at the most amazing new cupcake place at Clifton Down, and a rather eventful DIY haircut (not my hair) involving the one and only John Smallwood. Life is never dull with him around. Also apologies to Will’s house for their boiler breaking, I think it’s something about me that causes them to fall apart.
On Saturday I headed to London on the Megabus with a group of Bristol mates to see Shpongle live (highly recommended), and generally chilled in London until Sunday night where I briefly headed home to be reunited with my family, the dog, and my mum’s home cooking. Much love to my dad for getting up at a horrible time on Monday morning to take me to Luton.
Sights of the day
Having walked past the vending machine at the Adagio several times, Matthew and I were overcome by curiosity and just had to splash out the €2.50 on this tiny can of ‘Cacolac’. The name would suggest some sort of chocolate/coffee/laxative combo, which isn’t really that far off. It turned out to be an ambitious attempt at Nesquik in a can, although given that it was clearly made with UHT milk, it didn’t really hit the spot.