Day 47: Saturday November 26th, 2011
That morning, I was off. I made my goodbyes with Pauline, who was a saint. She was so nice, so hospitable, and I’ll always remember my odd French Thanksgiving. Maybe in other circumstances we’d go out on the town a bit more, but I was appalled at the prices and she was working too much. She’s in NYC now, so maybe an American reunion is in the cards. If she reads this, I just want to express my gratitude and thanks, and hope I can return the favor sometime.
I was able to get to the correct metro stop and subsequently the right train on the first go, which is always nice. In my journal I wrote that I was going to find a hostel and fuck a French girl tonight. Well, neither of those happened. There are no hostels in Bordeaux, so that was hard, and it’s hard to go out on the town by yourself. But I did anyway, but that’s getting ahead of myself.
I forgot to activate my Eurail pass, as this was the first train ride that I was actually using it. I was pretty panicked when they checked it, but the guy didn’t notice it wasn’t activated and merely punched my first day of travel. When I got to Bordeaux, activating it was my first step. Then I get out, and find that the train station is in the like the ghetto of Bordeaux. It looks like shit. I had romanticized Bordeaux as this beautiful wine heaven, and this wasn’t it. Naturally, I stayed in this area to save money. I searched for the one hostel that Pauline had told me about, and when I found it, it looked like a boarded up insane asylum. So I found some 50 euro hotel, and enjoyed my first night in my own room to myself since I had left home.
I’d tell you guys some stuff about Bordeaux, but I only got to know the train station, the market and my hotel room, so you don’t get to know anything about it either. I did Bordeaux a serious disservice and I’m sure Pauline, Bernadette and Romain will be pissed at me when they read this. But it takes time and money to explore the chateaus and do some fancy ass wine tasting, which I didn’t have. Next time I’m going to spend a couple weeks doing it (hopefully with Romain and Pauline!), because I’ve acquired the ability to enjoy any kind of glass of wine now. This gets me in trouble in Barcelona.
To celebrate my relatively comfortable solitude, I went nuts at the market, grabbing a baguette, salami, smelly goat cheese (it’s France) and a chocolate and creme dessert pudding thingy, 2 bananas, 1 carrot and a strawberry yogurt drink. And you just read that grocery list of a paragraph, sucker.
I gorged on my own bed (in more ways than one) and studied train lines and connections and created a rough outline of my next month and a half of travel while kind of watching futbol. Surprisingly, my plan stayed almost entirely intact from this point on.
Full and content, I went to a mini mart (only thing open) and bought a bottle of Bordeaux wine (naturally). The guy at reception supplied me with a bottle opener and looked on skeptically as I opened the bottle. It was a dry red wine that won some vague gold medal in 2010. It was a 2009 and was really cheap so I doubt the award had much substance, but by the end of the bottle, I was loving it. I also bought a tall boy can of Los Desperados, a surprisingly French made tequila liquor drink. Not surprisingly, it was awful. I did a lot of drunk chatting online with John, Tony for French tips, and a few others, and then resolved to go out by myself, with my hands smelling of cheese, my lips and mouth completely red.
Watch out Bordeaux.
But not really.
I found the city center with little difficulty; it was a lot nicer than where I was staying, to say the least. I wandered around trying to find bars with the kind of vibe I was looking for, and never really found it. I loitered in a couple and I don’t even think I ever bought a drink anywhere. It was probably pretty pathetic to behold. I just didn’t have the social juices flowing. Besides, porn and my own bedroom were calling to me.
Overall, hostels are such a better deal than hotels, and you really don’t get much more. Hotels are lonely and just not ideal for a backpack lifestyle, because you don’t meet people. But my day off in Bordeaux was much needed, regardless.