Bordeaux

When life gives you an extended weekend, what better way to make the most of it than travelling! Sure enough, I was dying to go somewhere! It had been almost a month since I went to Prague and Poland.

What was absolutely magical about this trip, was the fact that I stayed with my friend, Thomas’s family. A true french family, living in Bordeaux. Yes, that was as amazing as it sounds. Authentic french home-made cuisine! What could ever be better? I reached late at night, but still I was offered this heart-warming meal.

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Yes, I always take pictures after I’ve started eating. I’m always too hungry.

And ofcourse, next morning, I was off into the city! Surprisingly, I found out there aren’t any tours. However, I did find a .pdf for a tour, and you can imagine, it was slightly painful doing it like this, but I enjoyed navigating my way and having the freedom to spend as much time as I wanted in a place, and the freedom to break off and take on the tour again whenever I wanted, along with skipping what I didn’t want to do. That’s as flexible as it can get!

Fun fact : Bordeaux has Europe’s longest pedestrian street, called Rue St. Catherine.

This road is full of retail stores, some high end brands, and I guess you’d find anything you wanted to here. Me, I’m not much of a shopping freak, so I was more interested in this barometer on one of the huge shops.

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You know what’s really cool about this time? Christmas. France, is specially enthusiastic about Christmas! And with Christmas, come the famous Christmas markets. Which basically means, you get to witness something like this :

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Sweet heaven?

In one such stall, I found a local speciality, called the “ChiChi” ( pronounced Shee-Shee ) which is basically a french churro, slightly larger, and sprinkled with sugar / cinnamon. What I’m trying to say is, it is like an angel in heaven sprinkled with cinnamon, that you can eat. ( Do you know where this is coming from? It’s so epic, unrelated, but I got to mention it!

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LOL?

Anyways, I was also really surprised and excited to see an outdoor ice skating rink. You’ve got to be kidding me! How epic would it be to go for a ride on this?IMG_2156.JPG

This, was the 3rd time I went ice skating, ever. I’m proud to say, I’ve improved enough to do one lap at a decent speed without falling, which makes me excited, and I try going slightly faster, which ends up with my face in the ice. If you’re a beginner, like me, who doesn’t know how to skate, and want’s to ice-skate, here’s a pro tip:

Pro Tip : The more times you fall, the faster you learn.

However, don’t keep falling intentionally, unless there’s a pretty girl skating next to you who can stabilize you.

I spent quite a lot of time with the family, sharing stories, and cuisines! I managed to make some paranthas = (indian flat bread ), which went extremely well with the potato-omelettes. Infact, name one thing that paranthas don’t go well with! And, I was on the receiving end of some of the most amazing meals! Wine-marinated chicken, out on the authentic barbecue. Oh, my, god! Cheese, cheese, cheese! Shrimps, after all, it’s a port town! I learnt how to eat shrimps that just got of the sea. Interesting, I’d like to prepare those again, they taste nice.

An enchanting weekend at Bordeaux.

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Miroir d’eau / Water mirror

Ofcourse, you’re wondering about the wine! After all, I was in the world capital of wine, with all the castles and vineyards just next to the city center. The thing is, most castles are closed on weekends. ( And are kind of expensive to tour ).

Lastly, I want to talk about the budget. It has been unbelievable! I did an analysis once I got back, and here you go : Mind you, I shared this with my fellow frenchmen, and they almost cried. This was 10 times cheaper!

 

Douai – Lille :                                               3.8 €

Lille – Paris :                                                 1 €

Paris – Bordeaux :                                       5 €

Living in Bordeaux :                            Priceless

ChiChi :                                                          1 €

Ice-Skating :                                                4 €

Bordeaux – Paris :                                       1 €

Paris – Lille :                                                 5 €

Lille – Douai :                                               3.8 €

Total :                                           Priceless + 24.6 €

Could have been better, but I booked just a day in advance! True, the bus took longer than the train, it was a tough journey, but hey, it sure beats buying a 100 € one way train ticket!

To the next adventure!

 

Prague : Day 3

This fine morning, I was greeted by the sun shining in my eyes, raising the ambiance temperature by a bit. I took a bath, checked out, and made my way through the city. To where? I didn’t know either. I hadn’t visited the Castle yet, so it made sense to do that. But, I wanted to enjoy the sun first, as I hadn’t checked out the beauty of the city on a sunny day. ( Yesterday, I wasn’t technically in the city 😉

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View from Charles Bridge

Great decision, I’d say! For the city looked like this.

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Prague
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Charles Bridge

Well, another reason why I was here was because I was looking for Electroshock. Would have been pretty awesome to hear them once again! But, no,sadly I didn’t run into them, so I started backtracking, to a wi-fi place, where I could search for the Castle Tours.

Just as I exited the bridge, guess who I saw coming onto the bridge, with their violins and cellos? Yes, haha, it was Electroshock! Ofcourse, I followed them back onto the bridge! and sat on the wall, right next to where they were setting up. This was followed by 10 minutes of musicgasm! Ah, definitely hear them once, if you’re in town! I got their card in the end, and that’s how I now know they were called Electroshock. Made my afternoon!

I left once they left, having chosen a tour, to Prague Castle, and St. Vitus Cathedral. Now would you look at that?

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St. Vitus Cathedral

We had to take a tram to go up, and our guide told us to be careful, as there are a lot of pickpockets on the tram. On the tram, I secured my satchel containing my wallet, when I realised it was slightly open. Funny, someone could have grabbed my wallet! I closed it, and carried on.

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St. Vitus Cathedral

We witnessed the changing of the guards, which I thought to be kind of funny. Why do people come from all over the world to see a guard replacing another guard for duty? That never happens for the security guard in my building. Sorry man, you should have worked at the castle. More interestingly, there is another man there, who shows himself after every such event, as the crowd is still there :

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2281 Days

He has been coming here for the past 2281 days, protesting peacefully for his home. The government forcefully took his home, based on, alleged endowments a few hundred years ago. I don’t know how much of it is true, but it was amazing to see his determination! I had a lot of questions for him, but we were short on time, and he didn’t speak English either. Here’s to you, buddy! I hope you find peace 🙂

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The city does look amazing from here

The tour took us through the Golden Lane,  where Franz Kafka, the (famous?) writer lived. I hadn’t heard about him before hand. There’s his museum next to Charles Bridge as well, but you can guess, I wasn’t too interested.

By the time the tour ended, it was night time and I had a few hours before my bus back to Wroclaw. I put on some good music and went on through the city. Just strolling through, I found this shop with a decent clock, which wasn’t too expensive, and I thought to myself, I should probably take this! I hadn’t taken anything for anyone back home yet, and it was time to start. I reached into my satchel to get my wallet and pay for it, and that’s when I realised that it isn’t there. I flashed back to the tram, when the zip was slightly open, and I had that funny feeling. That, was replaced by a sickening roaring in my gut, and I could feel the adrenaline pumping. Okay, this is a first. I checked my bag once again, to make sure it wasn’t just a funny panic-attack. Nopes.

I rushed back to the tour start point, panic almost taking over, to the place with wi-fi and googled “What to do if you’re pickpocketed?”. Haha, google refused to help, sending me to links showing me how not to get pickpocketed, and I exclaimed, to hell with you! ( Not necessarily the same words) I took a deep breath, and imagined what I had in my wallet. The bank cards, a lot of money, ( skydiving woes), subway coupons, my college ID card and my photograph. What would a thief do with all this? He’d take the cash, probably the bank cards too, but the rest, worthless. So, it would make sense to get rid of the rest. So, how do you do that? Trash can. Or the river. Oh shit, not the river!
Considering the fact that I was 4-5 hours late, I still searched the trash-cans around the area, looking like a maniac but concluded that he/she either threw it in the river, or the trashcans had been emptied out. I called back home, to cancel the Indian bank card, and tried calling my French bank, to no avail. So, I sent a mail to representatives of both the banks to do the needful, ASAP.

I went to the police station, where they told me to wait and give a statement, but I couldn’t wait, as I had to catch my bus. ( Paid for earlier, thankfully)

Pro Tip : When you get pickpocketed, don’t waste your time going to the police station. Make an online report, it is much easier, much faster, and you receive an online registration statement, which works as proof anywhere in the world.

I walked back, laughing, thinking, how could I be so confident that I would never get pickpocketed that I passed off that tiny incident on the tram as nothing, not even checking my bag for my wallet. Oh, and I didn’t have any spare money in my backpack, or on me.

Pro Tip : Always, always, always listen to your mother and have some back up money separated from the rest of your money!

This was, no doubt, one resounding experience of my life. For I reached Wroclaw, late at night, 1 AM, looking through the train station, if there was security barring people from sleeping inside and making my way to a hostel where I’d made a reservation. I had paid 10% advance, so I just went and explained the situation. I had read in the terms and conditions, that in case of no show, they deduct the first night’s stay from the card. That convinced her to let me stay, and she automatically deducted the money from the card, which worked, I have no clue how, as I had asked for the cards to be blocked.

You know the best part about the hostels I choose? There is always free breakfast! And my, I was so grateful to myself for choosing hostels like these. In case you’re wondering, this was Cinnamon Hostel. I’d absolutely recommend it. The receptionist wasn’t very helpful in my case, but on the whole, the hostel is absolutely amazing! A brilliant work of art. You could see that the owners put effort into the place.

I never thought my first proper job interview would be at McDonalds, but hey, that’s what you do when you need money! My mom gave me the idea, who was much more terrified than I was( I’m pretty sure about it, but she cooled down soon ) , and I thought it was brilliant! So, I went asking for work, standing next to the customers, which was kind of embarassing, as I had a flight in a few hours time, and I needed enough zloty to get to the airport. ( 3.80 to be precise, which was less than 1 Euro.). Also, English wasn’t the first or the second language, so in the end, talking with the manager, she told me I couldn’t work for a few hours there, as all employees need medical approval. What a shame. The florist, same result.

Finally, an Indian Restaurant owner, who also couldn’t let me work, offered me 5 zloty, which I reluctantly accepted. ( Afterall, I needed the money, and if he insisted I have it, after I’d said no, meant I should take it 😛 )

By this time, my family had arranged for a transfer as well, so I had enough to get back to Douai. I went around town, because well, “Il faut profiter!”. This pretty lil town, Wroclaw.

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What an amazing day. I reached Paris at night, slept at a friends place, and next morning, I was in Douai, in french class by 10 AM, sharing this epic adventure with my teacher.

I was extremely lucky, that the guy/gal didn’t get hands on my passport, nor could use my bankcards.