When we travel abroad, I always try to learn a little of the local language. People are a lot friendlier when you at least make the effort to communicate in their native tongue.
My method is to buy a phrase book and learn the essentials: hello, goodbye; please, thank you; yes, no; excuse me; one, two, three; another; where’s the toilet – that kind of stuff. And I try to use the words I learn as much as possible. I also pay attention to signs: entrance; exit; stop; change – and to menus, learning the names of different foods by reference to the phrase book dictionary.
And it’s from the menus here in France (“boissons chaudes,” meaning “hot drinks”) that I learned the word that has come to dictate our lifestyle this week: “chaud,” that is, “hot.”
It has been hot here this past week, a different kind of hot from what we are used to. It’s a heat you can’t escape.
In Florida, where the buildings are newer and air conditioning is pervasive, it’s easy to ignore the heat. Even when you go outside (at least in the Keys), there’s a nice breeze off the ocean that can be quite refreshing, assuming you’re in the shade. But here in Europe, the buildings are older, built before the days of air conditioning, and not very many buildings have been (or can be) retrofitted.
This is a roundabout way of me explaining our disappearance for the last week. On Tuesday, we decided to escape the still air and heat-retaining concrete of the city and head back out to the beach house at Grayan-et-l’Hôpital. So, that’s where we’ve been, lounging on the beach under an umbrella, enjoying the ocean breeze and a dip in the cool waters of the Atlantic every now and then. Nothing really exciting, but quite relaxing: a vacation within a vacation. While at the beach, we also returned to Soulac sur Mer for dinner each night, timing our meals to enjoy the twilight hours.
At the beachfront restaurant, above, Dale ordered sole meunière; it was good, but not exactly what she was expecting.
After dinner, we watched the sun sink into the Bay of Biscay, Aquitaine’s version of sunset on Mallory Dock in Key West.
We returned to Bordeaux on Saturday and stayed around the house, out of the sun, except to jump in the pool, until evening time.
We have multi-day passes on the metro for the remainder of our time here, so around 8:00 p.m. we took the bus in to Place des Quinconces to transfer onto the tram at the depot there.
When we got off the bus, we saw that there was a circus at Quinconces – we’ve seen lots of signs for circuses here in France and in Denmark; it seems to be much more popular here in Europe than in the U.S. these days.
I loved the precision with which they parked the circus transports.
We caught the tram into the city center…
…near the Grand Hotel where we had a nice French gourmet meal (our first on this trip), including escargots.
Then we walked back to catch the bus at the Place des Quinconces as the sun was setting.
Bordeaux is quite beautiful at night.
And cool, too.