Saturday, October 3, 2009


Good morning all!
I know I should not be amazed when everything turns out OK. As you know, I do not believe in coincidences as they happen to me too often to be that (those). Today in Bayonne I saw a Japanese girl reading an English version of the Lonely Planet guide. NATURALLY I introduced myself and it turns out she is resident in Oz with an Oz boyfriend. Well, we sort of hung out together waiting for the train. Then when she realised she had no food and the shops could be shut before ze qrrived she went to the SM while I guarded the luggage. She made it back just in time. The train was a TGV and I had to pay 1.5€ to book, much less than I feared. I wrote down info from her book and after the journey we sought each other again. At the Information office they gave us a map but said there was no accommodation available because of the wine expo. We went to ring anyway. First number had a single room with everything for only 75€. Gasp. Second place had one room but Japanese girl (don't know her name!) had decided to get back on the train anyway. My room! Without her, I would have had to depend on the Tourism expert.
It's 10pm, the temp is well over 30 and sweat is dripping off me. I have just had a mild Indian meal in a street lined with temporary eating places and am typing this in a tent. This morning's email cost 4.5€; this will be less than 2€.
The population of Bordeaux is around 800 000 and despite the poor I see around the station, begging in the street and outside the churches, walking and on the tram it is clearly a wealthy town. It has expensive shops everywhere including 2 Bang and Olufsens. There is only one of these in the whole of Melbourne. Fancy cars abound and there are flash boats in the river. Steets are wide and the trams are new. (They have at least three routes which meet at various points, one of them starting at the station. Apart from one short section, they have no overhead wires but there are 2 extra "rails" in between the standard rails. How they get the electricity without there being a risk to pedestrians and drunk teenagers is beyond me. Certainly the appearance is a great improvement.)
I went to the 12th c cathedral this evening and the place was open for a mass in a side chapel. It is the place where Eleanor of Aquitaine married Louis of France. (Later she realised he was a wimp and after divorce married the future Henry II of England, though his accession to the throne was by no means assured at the time. And of course, this was the foundation for the 100 years war in the 14th and 15th centuries: on Eleanor's death, Aquitaine, the richest, most cultured, and largest part of France passed to her heir, the King of England. I believe that both she and H II are buried in Bordeaux but not in the cathedral. And R Lionheart with his wife is here somewhere.
My room is a miracle of miniaturisation. It has a bed, shelves, wardrobe sort of, large windows, a small bore heater, toilet, handbasin, and shower in a space little bigger than four single beds. The shower is cylindrical and made of steel. Magnets in the hem of the shower curtain hold it in place! The handbasin is partly over the toilet, and the shower is so close to the toilet the user has to sit sideways. The heater is so close to the window that it can barely be opened. Right now I'm not so anxious to return to it as it is airless. Still, at 18€, who's complaining? It is much cheaper than any other place I've found in France, and I have a bed!
Anyway, I'll head off somewhere tomorrow, and then go to Zurich on Monday, which I'm really looking forward to.
God bless you all

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