Thursday, May 29, 2008

Perigueux to Beauronne to Chateau-L'eveque to Brantome to Bourdeille

Martine took me out to see the sights around her town and our first stop was Perigueux. It was a shame as my camera battery died. It was "sais dommage" Perigueux is a very beautiful town and it had markets open, so it was so cool to visit them. They had clothes and food for sale. Its great that Martine gets me to buy things in french as I lack confidence in speaking with the locals.
We then returned home and I recharged my batteries, which was cool.

Later on Martine drove me out to Beauronne, which is such a cool little village. It has very old buildings and is a sleepy little country town. I loved this village very much and we walked through the town with Oxo, the family dog who I just adore. "Jem Oxo" The village has a little village running through it and it was so quiet and peaceful.

Next Martine took me to Chateau-L'eveque which was so so beautiful. I cant explain in words how stunning this village is and I loved it very much. It has an old castle and Martine, Oxo and myself walked through the town. It had a really old bakery and it was beautiful to walk beside the river. The laneways and the sstreets were so gorgeous and I would be surprised if my photographs can capture the true beauty of this town.

Then we went to Brantome which had also a beautiful old monastry. We tasted some of the local cheese, five different types and they were all delicious however, Martine told me they were far too expensive so we didnt buy any. We walked beside the river and it was nice to explore the town. I must admit I feel so much more secure having Martine with me.

Finally Martine took me to Bourdeille, which is yet another old village with two beautiful castles. It was very stunning and it seems to be a haven for young inspiring artists. The streets are cobble-stoned and very very beautiful.

We returned home and briefly saw Alice, Sandra's younger sister. Michel had returned from work and was mowing the lawns. We all went over to Sebastian and Stephanie's house for drinks and dinner as Stephanie's mama Viviane had cooked us a morocan dinner. Sebastian kept filling my glass with red

wine. They are such great people and so so lovely. Friends of theirs also called in and I met Bruno 'La prune and Nathalie and Jeantout and Tonio. They were so great to meand Sebastian was so funny as all he could say in english was "Sit down and shut up!" hahaha The moroccan dinner that Viviane made was so beautiful and wow I can't wait to visit Morocco. Viviane was so lovely as she sat down later and told me where to visit in Morocco.

I forgot to mention that Sebastian and Stephanies daughter is named Lola. She is the most gorgeous little girl and so so intelligent. You can tell that everybody around around here loves her so much. I gave her a kangaroo as a present and in french she said she would take the kangaroo to bed with her. You could tell she loved the kangaroo very much.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chancelade and Perigueux

Chancelade and Perigueux.

Martine and Alice, Sandra's mama and sister collected me from Bordeaux and took me in their four wheel drive to Chancelade where they live. It was a very beautiful drive and it is so cool to see so much of the countryside. Everything is so green and also so clean. It was really interesting for me to pass through french villages. This region of France as many historical buildings and its so old.

When we arrived I met Michel and him and Martine welcomed me into their house. They are such friendly people and Martine has promised to teach me some french. She doesn't know how bad I am at speaking french...hahahaha. I briefly met Sebastian their neighbour. Oxo their dog is so so beautiful and I think he has warmed to me straight away as almost immediately he starts to follow me. Martine et Michel et myself sat outside beside the big pond and I drank red wine. I bought Michel a bottle of whisky as a present and I bought Martine a book about Australia as I know they want to visit Australia next year. Michel doesn't speak english but its cool as I have to try to communicate in french which is fun as I have a limited vocabulary.

What is amazing is to think I hosted Sandra last year and now her parents are hosting me. For those of you who dont know Sandra she is a french couchsurfer who I hosted in Melbourne with Laura last year. They are both really lovely girls who are very different in personality but both verymy first night in Chancelade as the bed is very comfortable. I love being out in the countryside very much. Martine took me into Perigueux and it was pouring with rain which for some strange reason made it all the more beautiful. First we went to La Post, where I sent a ca nice people.

I slept really well rd home and also a cd that containing all my photos from Paris and Bordeaux on it. Martine told me I have to practice french so I went into the lady and said , " Bonjour, je voudrais un timbre s'il vous plait" The biggest surprise of all was that the lady understood me. Martine encourages me all the time.

Then we walked around Perigueux. Wow what a city. The buildings are so ancient and I love it very much. We walked down laneways in the rain and we got drenched but no worries. It was well worth it. I took many amazing photos of the Cathedral which looks brilliant. You guys must be so tired of me saying how beautiful France is, but trust me it is. When we were well and truly soaked I asked martine could we go and get some cafe and we went to a friend of hers cafe. Once again Martine sent me in to order the cafe and tea in french. "Je voudrais un cafe et tea s'il vous plait" Okay so a little wrong but I am trying really hard.

Afterwards we drove back into Chancelade and I went into the boulengerie to buy some bread and i said, "Bonjour , je voudrais deux baguettes s'il vous plait." The young girl serving me had a nice smile and I think that the french really have a respect that you try to use their language. "Merci beaucoup." is my favourite saying and it sounds better than "Thanks heaps" which is what I am used to saying in Australia. The baguettes in France are my favourite, and I hate to say it but the bread, pastries and cheese that is made in france is far superior to that made in Australia.

We then drove back to Chancelade where Oxo met us with a wagging tail at the front door. He is such a gorgeous dog and I want to take him back to Australia as I think he and Monty would be great mates.

Martine made lunch for me and we had a vegetable dish, baguette, cheese and of course vegemite. I think perhaps the vegemite detroys the taste of the baguettes. The lunch went down so well with a glass of red wine. French wine is also really good. I still love aussie wine but I must admit I love french wine. Martine and myself watched some of the French Open tennis on television in the afternoon as it was still raining outside.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Lifestyle and People of Bordeaux

The Lifestyle and People of Bordeaux

Reflecting upon my time in Bordeaux brings me great happiness as the people here have been so nice to me.

Christine who is Laura's mother is just the most lovely lady. She tries hard to teach me french and she doesn't get frustrated when I keep getting things wrong, and she enjoys speaking english as well.

Christine has made me feel so so welcome in her house. She has also driven me around, taken me to the vineyards and the big sand dune and always been so positive and so smiling. I owe her a great deal and hopefully when she comes to Melbourne I can show her around.

Laura has also been wonderful. We have become good friends and I'm sure when I return to Australia we will remain good friends as well. Her friend Emily is just lovely and she cooked a really nice dinner for me as well as introducing me to friends of hers. She is a down to earth fun person.

Steph and James, Sandra's cousins are so cool and introduced me to many couchsurfing friends. They are a really genuine couple and I love their positive outlook on life. They seem to be ever smiling and so easy going. I like their zest for life.

The people of Bordeaux are super friendly. It seems to be a very young city and the people seem happy to meet travellers. I love the little smiles they give when a silly australian guy destroys their language completely. They seem bemused when you attempt to speak french and go out of their way to help you.

I have loved the food and wine of Bordeaux, thanks to Christine and Laura. I have also loved hearing music in the streets and watching street performances as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Cup Runneth Over With Wine....Beautiful Wine!!!

The following day Christine took us out to a little town North-East of Bordeaux. The town was called Saint Emilion. Its a very old little town with beautiful old towers with a type of fort and also a cathedral. The town has vineyards all around it and they are really beautiful.

The buildings are so old and so so beautiful. I can't wait to view the photographs I took. We tried some of the local wine, well I did at least and we walked around the town. It was well worth seeing and I guess you can't come to Bordeaux and not try the wines.

Later on Christine brought us back to Bordeaux and as laura was meeting up with friends I decided to walfk into the town of Bordeaux and look around again. The streets and laneways still fasinate me as they are so old and so beautiful.

Bordeaux to Arcachon and Dune de Pilat

The following day Christine was kind enough to take Laura, Emily and myself to Arcachon which is a small coastal town on the Atlantic coast. The drive there was quite scenic and it was great to sit in the car and practise my french. Laura and Christine do a lot for my self-confidence as they keep praising me even though I know I am still really bad. I guess the main thing is I do try.

Arcachon is a beautiful little town and although it was a warm sunny day there weren't really many tourists there. We walked along the beach and also out along the pier. It was nice to take some photographs of all of us and it was also good to see the ocean again.

We didnt really stay long as we wanted to get to Dune de Pilat. The dune was so much bigger than what we expected. Wow it was gigantic. Laura, Emily and myself decided to climb it and it was hard work. We had a laugh while" we climbed up it. The views from the top were just so beautiful. You can see the ocean and also see right along the coast. The dune leads toa narrow strip of sand and it was really like walking in the desert. It was so amazingly beautiful even if my shoes did fill with sand. The sand was very white and looked so beautiful. It was quite windy up there but it didnt deter us from walking along the top of the dune with the ocean on one side and a dense forrest on the other.

When we got back to Bordeaux, I headed off into town to meet up with Stephanie and James, Sandra's cousins. Bandra is a couchsurfing friend who stayed with me in Melbourne. They are the most amazing people. Very warm and straight away I felt as though I had been friends with them for a very long time. First we had some beers in the main square of Bordeaux and then they took me to a bistro where we had a meal and also some wine. Of course the conversation was mainly about travel and it was so exciting to talk to them and to meet others who share my passion with travel and also to meet two great people like them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vive la Magnifique Bordeaux!!!

Vive la Magnifique Bordeaux!!!

I felt a little nervous upon arriving in Bordeaux and when I hopped off the train I waited for Laura to meet me. It wasn't long before I met Laura and her mother Christine. Laura was at my house in Melbourne when I left for France so she could tell me how Monty and Mollie my dogs were going. Christine is Laura's mother ans she is just lovely. So friendly and so so charming. They took me by car to their beautiful house in Bordeaux where I had lunch. The bedroom I will sleep in is so amazlingly big and the house has a beautiful outside garden with many trees and flowers. Its like staying in a palace. The house was built in the 18th century so it is really old.

I enjoyed practising my really poor french and every word I seem to trip over. Even when Laura tries to teach me new words I seem to mess it all up. I have also lost the sheet that William gave me that had all the french verbs on it so I will have to ask him if he can write them out for me again.

Christine made me a beautiful lunch. It seems that the french eat bigger lunches and not so much for dinner. I like this very much. It was chicken a la franaise and it was delicieux and strawberry pie et wine. Sais mangnifique!

They then took me into Bordeaux which was just amazing. It is such a beautiful city. The building are all extremely old and I loved all of the laneways. The city used to be surrounded by walls and it still has these massive entrance gates everywhere. I took so so many photographs of the buildings and the beautiful fountains. We walked also down to the river and we walked and up towards this massive bridge which was built by Napoleon in the 18th century. Christine watched in amazement as Laura and myself posed for different photos. She must have thought that I was a lunatic, but I guess she doesnt realise we haven't got buildings this old in Australia.

Later on we caught the tram back to the house and they showed me how to use the public transport system. Yes they do have trams in Bordeaux, like Melbourne only much newer. We had dinner and ate many different types of cheeses and we drank some more wine. I love Bordeaux very much and Laura and Christine have been so good to me. It's so much fun catching up with Laura again and we have some laughs. I think that she thinks that I am always lost!!! Ha not so far from the truth!!!!

The following day I explored Bordeaux by myself and I enjoyed laying in the sunshine and practising my french. Laura said it is improving but I'm not so sure. I think perhaps she is being polite. Bordeaux is so amazing and I bought some beautiful postcards. Later in the night Bernard, Laura's father came for dinner and we drank more wine, and no I am not becoming an alcoholic. He taught me some more french and then after dinner he drove all of us around VBordeaux to see the city lights by night. Wow! What an amazing city! So chaarming, so old and so amazingly beautiful.

France has just blown me away with its incredible beauty!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Going to Borrdeaux!!!!!!!

It was a bit sad meaving Paris as Id been there for two weeks and had the time of my life. The people I had met were awsome and all the time good things seemed to happen. Anyhow it was time to leave Paris at least for the moment.

The one thing I had failed to write about was that there was a big thunderstorm on my last night there. Also my friend Laura had told me that all the museums had free entry just for this one special night of the year so I decided to have a look at the Louvre, and i loved all the sculptures and of course the Mona Lisa which really wasnt all that special. For those of you who know me I have a very short attention span and after about two hours in the louvre I was ready to see a different museum. Next, I went to The Centre National d Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou. This museum houses a lot of modern art and some of the art work was fascinating. It was free which for me was great as usually the museum prices in Paris are quite expensive.

It was a good way to spend my last night in Paris and I was home just before midnight as I had an early train to catch for Bordeaux the following morning.

I arose very early and Bernard took me into the train station. The train journey took about three hours and it was great to sit and gaze out of the window watching the french countryside roll by. it's a really beautiful country. Some of the villages that i passed through were so beautiful but the train was tralling so quickly that it was impossible to take any photographs. After a three hour journey I made it to Bordeaux. Beautiful Bordeaux!!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Excusez- moi, je suis perdu!!!!

Excusez- moi, je suis perdu!!!!

Okay so I am an expert at getting lost and I have to admit I have been lost on the metro in Paris quite a few times since arriving. I love the energy of the metro, the way that the french people go about their daily lives. Its amazing as to how good the metro really is in Paris, as you can really get anywhere you want to go to, quite easily. I try not to be in the metro at peak hour as the trains get really packed and I guess its annoying for the french people to see travellers taking up room with their backpacks during the mad rush to get to and from work. I love reading all the posters at the metro stations and half the time I walk around in a daze. I was on the metro yesterday and there was a young guy doing some rapp dancing with music blaring. It was great to watch although I'm not sure that the french people would agree. I spend far too much time people watching instead of working out how I can connect metro trains to get to where I want to go and as a result I get so so lost. It's part of my french experience and I am loving it. The other night I had to leave a friends apartment to get the metro back to where I was staying and I got drenched in a sudden downpour. As I ran to the station I realized that I hadn't been looking where I was running and I ended up lost in the streets of Paris. Finally I made it to a metro station, and with the help of some locals I made my way back to the metro La Motte-Picquet Grenelle station close to where I am staying. I have been practising saying "Ou est station de metro la plus proche?", in the worst french accent you can imagine. The speed with which people move within the metro is sometimes hectic and this sometimes leaves me a little bewilded and feeling a bit lost.

I love the french people and they have been so great towards me in all ways. They are helpful and charming people. I think maybe it has helped to wear my Australian badge as for some crazy reason they seem to really like Australian people lots. I'm not sure why this is,but when trying to converse with the french I always throw in a "je suis australie" The french peoples faces usually light up and they are so nice towards me. A friend of mine, Christelle thinks its because the french see Australia as an exotic country with beautiful wildlife and beaches but maybe they think to themselves, 'This aussie guy is a complete loser and looks like he has got no idea of where he is going and is completely lost.' I guess its the same in Australia as australians love meeting up with french speaking people when they are travelling around Australia. The people in Paris are such proud people. I have loved listening to the french language and although I can't really speak the language I can usually understand part of what they are talking about. I have been really fortunate because I have met many locals and they have helped me out, taking me to see different places and to see famous french sights.

My friend William has let me stay in his apartment which has the most amazing views of the Eiffel Tower. It is just stunning and as I lay in bed of a night I can see the Eiffel Tower all lit up, sometmes sparkling but always there reminding me that I am really here in France and having the best time. William is working in Spain so I have had the apartment to myself. His mother Mirabel and his father Bernard have made me so welcome and they have had me in for dinner a couple of times. Last night I watched a french movie in their apartment that Bernard had appeared in. Their dog Tatoon is so amazing. He is just gorgeous ans so intelligent and he has taken a liking to me so I am feeling less home-sick when I am around him.

I have loved going into the supermarkets and practising my french and I have started to learn the french verbs that William kindly copied out for me. The people serving in the supermarkets are really friendly and always greet me with a "Bonjour" and when leaving I reply "merci beaucoup." I have also loved walking the streets, visiting little markets and parks and walking up little lane ways. Exploring Paris has definately been a highlight and I have taken many many photographs.
Besides William's family who, are the most warm and delightful people you could ever wish to meet, I have made a few friends in Paris. Jeremy and his brother Kevin have taken good care of me since being here. Jeremy was my first host upon arriving in Paris and we have kept in contact. I often go over to his apartment to have baguettes with him and Kevin and they make the best cafe. Also I have met some really nice couchsurfers in Paris, some of whom are staying at Jeremy's. Carlos, Iggy and Anna to name a few. Carlos is such a nice guy, he is from the Dominican Rebuplic and if I dont catch up with him in Spain then I will for sure in Australia Jeremy's juggling skills are incredible and he is quite the entertainer. He can do so many magical tricks and I think the children back at the school where I teach would be impressed. I've been to a big couchsurfing picnic with them. Norbert has become a good friend and we have been out for biers a couple of times with him during my stay in Paris. I will host his brother Romain and his girlfriend Christelle when they come to Melbourne in January. I also met up with Rodrigo and Claudia from Chile who are both lovely and such vibrant people. I want to catch up with them again for sure. We talked about travel for hours.

I also was fortunate to have dinner with Christophe and Valerie who are couchsurfers and so lovely. They made me a french dinner of duck and potatoes which was so delicious and it was nice to meet two of their children Pierre and Leana who are fantastic teenagers. It was so much fun telling them about Australia and the australian way of life and they said that I was the first australian they had ever met. I hope they don't think all aussies are like me. I also learned alot from them about France and the french people. Christophe walked me to the station after we had consumed a few red wines, so I wouldnt get lost!!!

I guess one of the things that is different in France is that the french kiss all the time. The women greet everybody with two kisses on the cheeks. At first I wasnt sure what to do (well which side to start on) and I'm really still not sure if there is a correct side to start on, but i think it is a really nice custom and very different to how we greet each other in Australia.

On Sunday I leave for Bordeaux and my train ticket is all booked. I know I will be back in Paris so its not so sad to leave. Also I want to catch up with Vincent, Caroline and Clement as I have had a bit of a head cold and I didn't want to spread my germs to the baby. I'm looking frward to exploring the Bordeaux area of France very much. Hopefully soon I will be able to download some amazing photos for you to view. A bientot!