Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


France Trip (Days 1 & 2)

Day 1: Saturday, September 24
Sac > SF > en route to Paris
Thanks to our 11:35am departure time, I was able to do my typical Saturday morning routine of a long swim before helping Mr. E take care of the last-minute preparations (final packing, bird food, smooches to the cats). Our layover at SFO was about 2 ½ hours, so we took advantage of having business class tickets to make use of the United Club facilities as we waited. Tasty Americano coffee from the special machine and some light snacks to tide us over ‘til lunch on the next flight. I also managed to find enough space for about 15 minutes of yoga.

We had splurged on the upgrade to business class for the 10+ hour flight from SFO to Paris, so we started off with pre-flight drinks and transitioned to warm nuts (my favorite!) before enjoying several glasses of quite nice French wine and rather high-quality dinner entrees (seafood for me, beef for Mr. E). Then the best part – lie-flat seats! Despite the ability to sprawl out, neither of us got too much sleep, but it was still worth having so much space. Our seats faced towards the back of the plane, so we flew “backwards” the entire trip, which was particularly odd during take-off and landing.

Another nice amenity was the personal entertainment system, so we both watched several movies. I was hoping for some French films but couldn’t find any. Instead, I ended up with two Chinese films. The first was called “If Cats Disappeared from the World” (spoiler alert: they don’t…. phew!), which had a fascinating premise about a young man diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor who encounters another version of himself who promises an extra day of life in exchange for erasing something from the world. The first item is phones, followed by films, and almost followed by felines. The impact of losing an item is felt through the consequent impact of losing experiences and relationships that have been touched by or even founded upon that item. During the course of the movie, the viewer learns that the protagonist’s first cat, Lettuce, died while his mother was struggling with a terminal disease. A second cat, Cabbage, came to join the family and was inherited by the young man when his mother dies. Cats dying. Mothers dying. Oh boy… I was definitely crying during much of the middle part of this movie… Luckily, the next film I selected was more of an action/comedy, so I didn’t get nearly so emotional!

Day 2: Sunday, September 25
Paris > Bordeaux
Our flight arrived in Paris around 10:30am, and we tried to access the United Global Alliance Club but were unable to do so since our next flight was on Air France. In the end, this was fortunate, as transferring to the next Terminal, going through security, discovering that we needed to check a bag, and taking the time to accomplish that task took us about 90 minutes. Good thing our layover was a bit more than 2 hours!

Both of us dozed off on the short flight from Paris to Bordeaux, and we had some extra room in the Exit Row with no one in the window seat next to us. We opted for a taxi to take us to our rental apartment rather than trying to navigate the public transportation system, given how long we’d already been traveling. Our friendly taxi driver was quite adept at navigating the very narrow streets in the historic areas of the city, even managing to squeeze through between a parked car on one side and a large motor scooter on the narrow sidewalk on the other side! He dropped us at the apartment, and we waited a bit for the proprietor to meet us. We had arranged this rental through Trip Advisor and were hoping for the best, as we hadn’t used this particular mechanism before. The apartment definitely matched the description and pictures on the site (phew!), and our hostess was very friendly and helpful as she showed us the facilities and equipment. Bienvenus à Bordeaux!

Mr. E opted for a nap while I did some yoga in the sunny light-filled living room facing the banks of the River Garonne. The apartment looks out on the Cours du Médoc, a very busy street that parallels the River and features Tram line B (more on the Tram system later). I was surprised by the number of people out and about on the street and along the river. A bit later, Mr. E and I decided to join them for a stroll along the wonderful riverfront all the way to the Place de la Bourse and the picturesque Miroir d’Eau (Water Mirror). The riverfront promenade was packed with people (and dogs) of all ages using multiple forms of transportation – bikes, push scooters, skateboards, and a surprising number of rollerblades (not so common these days in the US). We also saw two riverboat cruise ships from Viking and Uniworld, and since we’ve considered taking a riverboat cruise, it was quite interesting to get a closer look at these vessels.

We eventually wandered away from the River and into the city centre, finding ourselves in the Place du Parlement, where we decided to eat at Restaurant Edouard. Mr. E had a burger and frites, and I ordered a salad with shrimp, avocado, melon, and feta. Quite a tasty meal, although I would have enjoyed it slightly more if I hadn’t needed to push aside the chives sprinkled on top. [*sigh* Um, yes, chives are part of the onion family, so when one indicates that one is allergic to onions, then that includes chives. *sigh*] 

Before the return walk to the apartment, we bought a bottle of wine at one of the few retailers open on a Sunday evening. By the time we got back to our abode, we had just enough energy for a couple of glasses of wine, some leftover snacks from our business-class goodies, and talking about plans for the next day before going to bed.


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