October 1, 2009

Posted in la vie bordelaise tagged , , , , , at 9:55 am by Fat Girl Dancing

Monday, September 28, 2009 – 7:31pm I had the house to myself all weekend, but fortunately that doesn’t mean that I sat around and felt sorry for myself!

I got in contact with a friend of one of my former professors from Wright State. My professor had recommended her to me as one of her closest friends and said she would be a good resource for me, so even though I was nervous to meet someone new — and in French! – I agreed to meet V. for a sight-seeing walk around Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon.

There was a slight miscommunication on my part, where I thought we were meeting in Talence and she was waiting in Bordeaux, but once I stepped off the tram I was able to find her quickly. She was waiting for me at the Pey-Berland Tower next to the Saint-André cathedral. V. asked me if I was in shape and willing to climb the 231 steps of the ancient tower, because “there’s a great view of Bordeaux from the top.”

She kindly paid the 5 Euro entrance fee, and we started climbing. The stairs were old, uneven, and spiraling ever towards the heavens. We climbed and climbed. I pushed myself to show that I was in shape, but eventually I had to take a breather close to the first landing.

When we stepped out on to the first landing, nearly 2/3 of the way up, the view nearly took my breath away. I could see Bordeaux so clearly, all the way past the river to the other bank. V. and I walked all the way around, with her pointing out different monuments and points of interest, and me snapping as many pictures as I could.

We climbed to the very top of the tower, but found the subtle height difference didn’t really change the view. But at least we could say we’d made it all the way to the top. Going back down was almost harder than going up. The stairs, created so many hundreds of years ago, were not all the same level, so I had to go slowly and judge the distance of every step. When we got to the bottom, my legs were shaking from the effort.

From the tower, V took me around the center of Bordeaux, pointing out famous streets, landmarks, and fountains and just generally telling me the history of the town. It was so fascinating to hear it straight from a Bordeaux native rather than reading it from a guidebook!

After walking so long and hiking all those stairs, I thought I might die of thirst when V. suggested we stop at a café for a drink. She ordered a Perrier, so I ordered the same. With a slice of lemon, it was surprisingly refreshing! We sat and chatted. V. is also an elementary school teacher, and she offered to share some of her English teaching materials with me. We took the tram back to her house, where she offered me more fizzy water and chocolate cookies and then showed me her troves of English flashcards, coloring papers, and videos. I left with a giant sack full of treasures that I think we’ll really help me with my classes. Her kindness and her help that day were invaluable, and I can’t thank her or my professor enough for taking the time to help me out.

She drove me home so I wouldn’t have to take the tram all the way back to Talence, so I got to see the Rocade (beltway that goes around Bordeaux). At one point I asked referred to her in the “vous” form, the polite you, and she said “You must ‘tu’ me (informal you).” I felt awkward doing that though, so since it was right before I left I just kind of avoided it altogether (“Thanks for all the help” instead of “Thanks for your help.”)

I rested most of the morning Sunday. I never heard from any of the other assistants, so I didn’t bother trying to go back into Bordeaux for a third day in a row to go to the flea market. Around 2 in the afternoon I put my computer in my bag and headed to the Talence town square to try and connect to the wifi for as long as my battery would last.

It so happened there was a flea market going on in Talence as well! I don’t think it’s every Sunday, perhaps just the last Sunday of the month. I went from booth to booth to booth looking at everything. I was mostly searching for English-language books, because I think I’m going through mine too quickly. One woman was selling a copy of Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual in French, which I was interested in, but not at the 5 Euro she was asking for it.

Once I’d been to every booth (which took over an hour), I plopped myself down on a bench right in the center of things and got connected to the wifi, where I made a blog update and uploaded pictures. I so look forward to being on the internet for more than 1 hour at a time. When I’d worn down my battery, I went to the Boulangerie I’d gone to a week ago and had another cheese quiche and Orangina while I sat and read for awhile.

My family didn’t get home until a few hours later, and while I was glad to see them, I must say I’d been enjoying the time alone. It’s definitely different to go from living in your own apartment for three years to living in a room in someone else’s house.

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