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Published: July 14th 2018
What. A. Day. We left our wonderful little air bnb in central Paris this morning at 7:30am to head off to Bordeaux. We got a subway to Gare Montparnasse (the big train station in Paris that takes you to other cities), and we made sure we were there by 8:20am, as our train was at 8:48am and the ticket asked us to be 20 minutes early. So, we got to Gare Montparnasse in the “subway-to-other-suburbs” area and it was really hard to find our way to the bigger, inter-city part. After climbing and descending multiple sets of stairs (one where a man silently offered to carry my suitcase down the steps and I thought he was stealing it, oops), we finally made it to what looked like a bigger part of the station. We asked the ticket desk where the train to Bordeaux was departing from, he said the 2nd level, and we thought, “oh, finally, we know where we’re going”.
Turns out the 2nd level is a very large level with 20 train spots. There was a screen displaying all the train times but there was only one entry with Bordeaux on it- leaving in four minutes. So, we started to panic on top of our already high stress level, as we had four minutes to figure out which of the 20 stops held a train about to leave for Bordeaux. We knew it was 20 minutes before our scheduled time, but the display screen didn’t have any more Bordeaux trains on it til past 10am, so just we assumed it had been pushed back and we hadn’t been told about it.
We scrambled around and eventually found the Bordeaux train, but there were big sign-fences blocking the path, saying something like “this platform closes two minutes before departure, no entry” (this may be a rough translation, but it was something to that extent). We jumped up and down, waving and yelling, trying to get the train staff’s attention, and they finally let us through. We jumped onto the first carriage, asked someone “does this go to Bordeaux?”, and after they answered yes, we started to breathe again.
Once we’d caught our breath, we looked around and realised we had hopped onto the first class part of the train, where a bunch of jewellery adorned women and suited-up businessmen sat looking curiously at us, as though we were some alien creatures puffing and sweating the train out. So, we picked up our suitcases again and kept walking through many, many carriages (constantly murmuring “excusez-moi, merci, pardon, désolé, merci beaucoup”) to get to the 2nd Class carriage, coach 15. We finally reached 2nd class, then were working our way up to coach 15 when we hit a wall in coach 10.
So. This must be the wrong train.
We could have cried.
BUT! As we were trying to figure out where the heck this train was going and how the heck we could get onto our train that we paid a ridiculous amount of money for and who the heck we could talk to about it because we didn’t have any wifi to look it up, a miracle happened. A ticket inspector was walking down coach 10, and we grabbed him as fast as we could.
Me- “parlez-vous anglais??? S’il vous plaît??!?!?!! “
TI- “um, a little bit...”
*i show him our printed off ticket. He looks confused, then he seems to realise what’s happened and tries to explain it to us. It doesn’t work. We are confused. He is trying is best to speak English. We are trying our best to understand French. It is a mess. Until...*
Man on train- “uh, excusez-moi, je parle anglais. Qu’est-ce que le problème?”
TI- “fhwvdifgshsvjaishsgqjdbd ha ha ha ha”
MOT- “ohhh, ajsbdjahdbskabsjdbs ha ha ha ha oui”
*MOT and TI laugh for a minute, then both turn back to us*.
MOT- “you have gotten on an early train, and you are currently on a train to La Rochelle. But, this train is currently attached to a train going to Bordeaux, however it will cut off from it after the next stop. So you need to get off at the next stop and get back on further down the train.”
So, we sat for another hour until getting to the next stop, on the floor of the train because there were no seats left, worrying about making it to the Bordeaux section of the train before it disconnected. Spoiler alert- we made it. We found seats and spent another hour on the train before arriving in Bordeaux, getting a cab to the hotel, checking in, and flopping down on the beds.
We relaxed for half an hour until it was time to get to the Wine Tour! It was a 5 hour bus tour into Médoc, stopping at two wineries. The first was a factory, Chateau Dauzac, where we saw the wooden and steel vats the wines are turned in, and also the cellars where they are aged. We tasted two wines here, but I can not for the life of me remember what they were. We then went to a winery owned by a couple who made it in 1994, where we learnt about the crops and also saw a cellar where their wines are aged (it smelled of old wine- very unsurprising). We tasted two wines here as well (don’t ask me what these ones were either).
Overall the tour was really interesting, but the guide made me want to jump off the bus. She switched between French and English randomly, even after realising that everyone on the bus spoke only English, and no French at all. She also kept speaking over the hosts of the wineries (we get it love, you do this tour often). But, the wines were good, the hosts were lovely, and the fact that we were at real vineyards in the south-west of France was astounding.
Towards the end of the tour, the guide gave us a few facts about Bastille Day (which, by the way, I haven’t mentioned yet, because no one else had the entire day? We hadn’t heard anything about it and we didn’t see any signs or anything until the tour guide spoke to us at 6:30pm). (Oh, yeah, happy Bastille Day).
We went out for dinner on the way home, where we both had risotto (mine was prosciutto and Parmesan, Trudi’s was chorizo) and tried an Aperol Spritz (do not recommend). While we were having dinner, we noticed a bunch of either police officers or army soldiers walking alone through the street, holding the biggest guns I’ve ever seen. It was like they started walking through the street in a canon, one would walk and the other would follow 5 seconds later, in another area of the street. We knew it was for Bastille Day, but it still made us feel very uneasy- should we feel safe that people are here with guns? Or should we feel unsafe from the fact that they need to carry such big guns in this area on this day? Either way, we finished dinner pretty quickly and headed back to the hotel.
Well, that was a long blog about not much! I think there’s around 500 words about our journey into Bordeaux this morning. Tomorrow morning we head back to Paris, where we’re staying in Montmartre for three nights. Til then, bonsoir!
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