E is for Eastside

It was a bit of a mission getting from Amsterdam to Berlin, and a mission that we seemed to share with what felt like far too many other tourists. Our first train went relatively smoothly, we had a seat for one hour and the next hour we had to sit on our bags but there was plenty of space and we had lollies. The second train…well it decided not to show up. So us and about 50 other travellers who had just come from Amsterdam waited for the train until we realized it was a no show and all went to find a replacement. Unfortunately the replacement was not really equipped to have so many extra people on board and it was ridiculously cramped. To the point that when we saw a snack cart everyone who was standing, sitting, crouching in the aisle way just kind of laughed. Until we realized that they were actually going to try and get through. It was terrible and unfortunately it lasted for around 5 hours. Not the best introduction to Berlin but at least we got there.

It was late by the time we got to our hotel and found something edible for dinner so the sight seeing was saved for the next day where we woke up, fuelled up on the hotel breakfast and headed straight for the Brandenburg gate. The area in front of the monument had been set up for the World Cup game that was playing in the park later on in the day, which made the photos far less pretty but the giant marble gate with the chariot on top was none the less rather impressive. We took a brief look at the Reichstag (German parliament) which is far prettier than our own in Wellington (I have yet to see any parliamentary building that is less attractive than our own).

After a short detour through the corner of Tiergaarten, a huge city park (where we spotted our first red squirrel, beautiful albeit a little shy) we came across the incredible Holocaust Memorial, a vision in concrete set against blue sky. There is no way to capture the experience in words, wandering through undulating concrete slabs, as if in a maze of industrial gravestones that weave across an apartment block. It was an experience I won’t soon forget and a highlight of the day in Berlin.

After a brief detour (caused by us getting lost) we found the Topography of Terror, a must do for any one interested in World War 2 and the events both preceding and what came after for Germany. It was a big exhibit with a lot of information to read but I felt like I learnt a lot (which is always a good thing, especially when it comes to pub quiz). It was also located alongside a section of the remaining wall, on top of what used to be an important Nazi site.

After so much war and concrete it was a relief to escape back in to the giant park, armed with a couple of sandwiches and cold drinks. We did a lot of aimless wandering, winding our way through and meeting a few animals along the way (giant crows, tiny mice and another red squirrel who was a bit friendlier and keen to accept a few crumbs). The park is beautiful and large, although be warned that in the southern section Berliners are commonly sunbathing naked. No beach needed, just a sunny spot of grass. Can be a bit of a surprise without some forewarning (consider yourself forewarned).

We left the calm oasis and stopped in at the train station to book our tickets for our train to Prague the next day (we took a while but we had finally learnt our lesson). It was too late to visit the museums on Museum Island properly but we trained there regardless to take a look at the beautiful buildings, the river and the big Berlin Cathedral that is also located on the little island. The cathedral was even more impressive on the inside, large and ornate with marble and gilding everywhere. We also accidentally started the climb to the dome, without quite realizing what an undertaking it would be. After a punishing hike up hundreds of stairs, we stepped out on to the balcony of the dome, to soak up the 360 degree views of the city around us. Well worth the climb, if only to see the magnificent roof of the Cathedral along with its sculptures up close.

Last on the “must not miss” list was a visit to the East side gallery, a 1.3Km section of wall that has been turned into a public display of art and a monument to freedom. It was another highlight of the day (okay, pretty much everything was a highlight) to wander along and adore all the incredible art works, some conceptual, some weird, some controversial and some just plain cool. The only downside was the graffiti that has become a bit of a problem over the artworks, with people feeling the need to sign the wall or write messages over the art. Unnecessary but it definitely didn’t ruin the experience.

After a pretty busy day, we went along to a local bar where the Germany vs Portugal football was on, it felt like a sin to be in Germany and not get involved. The atmosphere at the bar was perfect, not too crazy but still fun. What was slightly scary was that everytime Germany scored a goal (they scored a few) people with weird masks on would come out on to the balconies of their apartments and throw cascade bombs (or something similar) down on to the street below (where we were). It didn’t make me feel particularly safe but the people we were with seemed to just take it in their stride so we did the same.

Berlin was a surprise for me. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, mistakenly thinking that it held no history and was too modern for my preferences. On the contrary, although the city has rebuilt to become modern, clean and efficient it still is home to the haunting memories of its troubled past. It was a great contrast to what we had seen for most of our trip and a perfect but brief introduction to Germany and its football loving Berliners.

Ready for a whole load of photos?? Berlin was a little bit photogenic so there are a few, with some captions at the bottom 🙂 x

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1. Brandenburg gate
2. The Reichstag
3. This lion statue made me really sad. I thought it should feature so you can feel sad too 😦
4. Getting lost in concrete corridors and mazes
5. The holocaust memorial, didn’t feel real when wandering through and it doesn’t look real in photos. Pretty amazing spot.
6. A tiny section of the Berlin Wall
7. The section of wall by the Topography of Terror exhibit
8. And recovering from the heavy stuff back in Tiergaarten
9. I named this little guy as we fed him…now I can’t remember his name. Something German … Maybe Gunther? I should stop naming all the animals we come across
10. An urban oasis if ever I saw one.
11. Views from the Cathedral
12, 13 & 14 East side gallery, amazing.

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K is for Katten Kabinet

There were a couple of things we had prioritised for Amsterdam, the popular Anne Frank house and the Van Gogh museum. We had heard (and seen yesterday) the big queues outside the Anne Frank museum so got there first thing to avoid wasting precious time. For some reason, at 10 past opening the line was already several hours long and worse than usual (according to a local travel guide who had thought he could skip the worst by coming early). I am very anti standing in line for hours and will do almost anything to avoid it (like trying to buy tickets online, which we had done yesterday but all the online tickets were already sold out) so we decided to post pone.

After a coffee stop next door we decided to move on to the markets that were taking place just down the street, in our favourite Jordaan region. The stalls were wonderful, crowding around in every direction and featuring every possible item, from fresh bread and cheese to beautiful handmade jewellry and prints (with everything else in between). We picked up a few things for dinner as well as some delicious fresh cranberries and dropped them off at home before moving on to catch a bus to the Van Gogh museum (which we had managed to get online tickets for).

Ah, the satisfaction of walking past endless lines and skipping queues for immediate entry is something I greatly enjoy so I savoured the moment as we entered the modern gallery and museum, dedicated to Van Gogh and his incredible art. The museum did not disappoint our high expectations as we spent a couple of hours going through each room and reading about the history behind a very talented but tortured artist. After a quick stop at the gift shop where I picked up a copy of my favourite print to bring home, we took a stroll through the the nearby park. It was fine and parks are always a nice break from crowded concrete spaces, but it was nothing incredibly special (and had the added bonus of cyclists everywhere).

After a ridiculously delicious toasted sandwich (seriously, how can something so simple taste so incredible?!) along with some dutch beer we found something I almost didn’t quite believe was real. On tripadvisor I had located a Cat museum. Yup. This KattenKabinet was something that seemed to good to be true so once we eventually found the tiny sign on the door and paid an entry fee we feasted our eyes on the most weird and wonderous collection of cat related goods. Paintings, prints, posters, sculptures, movies and even a pinball machine. No cat stone was left unturned. There were even a couple of living exhibits who happily let us shower them in cuddles. It was strange but in the best possible way. Why is there no cat museum in Auckland?? I think I could be up to the task.

After one more check and confirmation that the lines for Anne Frank were still ridiculously long (I am still disappointed that we didn’t get to visit) we went to relax in another cafe that featured a gorgeous friendly cat who was available for cuddles. After so long with only a rare sighting of a feline, today felt like we had somehow arrived in cat heaven. Cappuccinos always taste better when you are trying to share your seat with a gorgeous furry friend who doesn’t judge how bad your dutch is (awful just for the record). We realised we hadn’t tried a Dutch pancake so hat was our next delicious task, and covered in chocolate with fresh strawberries it was a good way to end the day.

Another beautiful day in Amsterdam where I only nearly died once thanks to a stubborn cyclist (seriously, the cyclists in Amsterdam terrify me) and another visit to the cheese shop to try something new for dinner. Amsterdam was great, the dutch were wonderful and the cats were cuddly. What more could an eager tourist ask for?

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1. My favourite non-feline character in Amsterdam was this tiny little boy in a suit at the markets, munching on a tomatoes and holding fresh flowers. I think my heart melted.
2. Delicious bread to later match with delicious cheese
3&4. Becoming quite the canal expert
5. Katten Kabinet. Cat Museum. Need I say more?
6. Cat pin ball machine
7. More canal goodness
8. Cafe cat!
9. Mmm pancakes.

J is for Jordaan

I was reluctant to leave Bruges, the only thing that made the departure sweeter (quite literally) was the box of belgian truffles we purchased before leaving. Keeping the chocolate intake high, our trains to Amsterdam went by rather quickly. Before we knew it, we were in the Netherlands and trying to locate our accommodation for the next two nights.

We stupidly hadn’t bothered to download any maps or instructions as the place we were staying had emailed us a list of instructions that very clearly detailed how we would find them. Unfortunately, instructions are only helpful when they are correct, which ours were not. So after much grumpy wandering, trying to locate street signs and navigate our way amongst the canals, we managed to finally get help from some English speakers who pointed us in the right direction.

The place we were staying in was great, a little apartment in the Jordaan region sitting right beside a canal. The Jordaan region turned out yo be my favourite area of Amsterdam, quiet and peaceful with canals full of houseboats and streets lined with beautiful elegant houses covered in flowers.

We couldn’t have been happier, until we realised there was a cheese museum just up the road.We quickly located the museum, to find that it was mostly just a big cheese shop. This was even better than a cheese museum as we could try everything (and try everything we did). With our bellies quite full from all the cheese samples, we found a little cafe on a side street to grab a coffee and a little vegetarian pastry for some post cheese late lunch.

It turns out that the way we like to choose a cafe is by waiting until we find one with a cat inside. It worked quite well in Amsterdam, where the cat population seems significantly higher than in France. This cafe not only did amazing coffee, but also featured an extremely fat black cat who allowed us to pet him without any reciprocal affection whatsoever (he was lucky I was having so much cat withdrawals).

Amsterdam had an incredible atmosphere, and not just because of the smell of marijuana that was present pretty much everywhere (im surprised easily well we got used to it, at first I was a little weirded out). We walked alongside canals to see the tulip flower markets just as they were closing and then to the busy Rembrandt square where there is an amazing sculptural memorial with Rembrandt standing above life size figures from one of his most famous paintings.

The city of Amsterdam was buzzing with excitement and because the area we were staying was the older rather peaceful neighbourhood so it was fun to wander through the more touristy streets and shops. We also took a brief wander through the red light district, how could you go to Amsterdam and not? It was totally different to how I had expected it to be, but I am not quite sure why. It is hard to imagine what it is like seeing women selling themselves in windows and doorways and even harder to try and understand without knowing the context for this part of Amsterdam’s culture. It was interesting but I can’t say we spent long there haha.

We headed back to our little appartment, only stopping to pick up some beer and cheese (from the cheese museum!) to eat for dinner. I didn’t expect to fall in love with quirky little Amsterdam so quickly, but fall I did. Whats not to love about its beautiful canals lined with gorgeous tall houses, its cafe cats and its characteristic smell. It is hard to not feel happy in a city where it seems like everyone is having fun.

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1. Our first beautiful dutch canal (feat. bikes of course because there are more bikes than people)
2. CHEESE. I ate a lot.
3. More canals and bikes. You are gonna get real sick of them.
4. Cause when I go to tulip markets we all know what I really want…
5. Tulips of course!
6. Lions. Not era though 😦
7. Canals and bikes plus bird
8. Such an incredibly beautiful place, especially in the Jordaan area.

B is for Brewery

We hadn’t originally been able to decide whether to spend two nights at either Brussels or Bruges, so we compromised and spent one night at each. After the busy chaos of a beautiful capital city like Brussels, it was nice to know we were going to somewhere smaller next. It was a super easy train from Brussels to Bruges, just one hour or so before we arrived and found our hotel which was in a great location right beside the train station.

We grabbed some lunch from a local deli (amazing mozzarella sandwiches that were made fresh before our hungry eyes) and took them to eat beside the beautiful canals in the nearby park. Bruges was stunning in the warm sunshine, with geese and swans populating the canals and everyone either cycling or wandering through the little streets. It was like a polar opposite to Brussels, calm and peaceful. The most peaceful spot was a little monastery garden, walled off but open to the public (provided they stayed quiet).

A priority for us was to visit a Michelangelo Mother and Child sculpture in one of the two main churches. They charged a small fee to take a look but the sensitivity of the small subject, sculpted in a way Michelangelo can only achieve, was worth it even if the rest of the church was relatively unremarkable. We then took a look at an art exhibition being held at the other nearby church, which was much more grand and impressive.

It wouldn’t have felt right to go to Belgium and not do something beer related so we went along to a tour of the local Half moon brewery. It was more fun that I expected (I was just doing it for the free beer at the end) with a great tour who took us through the new parts of the brewery as well as showing some of the older bits that were no longer in use. We also got some great views over Bruges after climbing out of the window to get onto the roof (as well Asa. Rare photo of both of us!). The beer at the end was delicious and far superior to the stuff I normally buy. I also know slightly more about the beer making process than I did before, but don’t try to test me on this knowledge as I am far too modest to show how much I know…

After the delightful beer that made up for all the stairs we had climbed, we walked through the central square, a smaller and older looking version of the grand place in Brussels, but much cuter in my opinion. We were aiming to get to a chocolate factory but we arrived just after it had shut (I still get nightmares of the devastation of that one moment). The only way I could find some kind of solace was by eating the most delicious Waffle of my life, smothered in melted chocolate and ice cream and served alongside another local beer (also made by the Half Moon brewery). I may need another waffle, all these memories of missed chocolate tours are making me emotional.

After more wandering around streets we realised it was getting late. We weren’t feeling up to a big meal so we found the perfect dinner in a little shop selling delicious falafel wraps which we devoured along with a plate of perfectly cooked fries smothered in the most delicious curry/mayonnaise sauce. I had a list of things we had to try in Belgium: beer, chocolate, waffles and frites, so with the list completed we made our way “home” to recover from all the calories we had consumed.

Bruges is still one of my favourite cities we visited (I write this sitting in Italy after falling far too behind on these blogs) and it had a great atmosphere as well as the perfect size for exploring on foot. I know I will have to go back one day soon, the chocolate factory still calls my name…

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No captions because most of the photos are just gratuitous shots of beer and beautiful Bruges 🙂
Xx

S is for Strike

Up until now everything had gone surprisingly smoothly for us. Nothing had been lost or stolen (except a couple of adapters…). No trains had been missed and we had never seriously gotten lost (we just had no idea where we were going-there is a small but important difference, I hope). Today was the first day where that sense of control was lost and it was pretty stressful.

We had booked a train direct from Tours to Paris where we would then have a couple of hours to metro across the city to our fast train to Brussels (which we had had to pay around $100 to book even with our train pass, quelle horreur!). We had everything pre booked and had given ourselves plenty of time for the connection. So as usual, we arrived at the train station far too early, prepared to relax with a coffee. Everything was weirdly quiet and our train was missing from the sparse list of departures on the board. We found a lady wandering around in uniform and tried to ask about our train. After a bit of delay thanks to my terrible French comprehension we finally grasped that she was trying to explain that the train staff were on strike and there were no trains going from Tours to Paris. I asked about connecting to our train in Paris and she said that that train could possibly be cancelled as well.

Trying to keep calm (the lady was thankfully very helpful, if not for her it would have been a totally different story) we discovered that there was one train going from a nearby train station to Paris that could potentially get us to our next train in time. With no option but to use the only taxi of our entire two months (a luxury we normally don’t allow ourselves) we got to the train station just outside of the city to see if we could get any more information. The staff were even fewer here so we had no choice but to wait 4 hours for the train to turn up and hope that we would be able to catch it without the booking that was normally necessary for a TGV.

Thank god for Cafés and their endless supply of coffee, pastry and air conditioning. The next few hours went by quickly, I think mostly due to the stress of what was going to happen once we got to Paris. The station got pretty busy as the train time approached and everyone seemed as confused and stressed as the next person which was somewhat comforting. The TGV arrived and any worries about whether we would need a reservation disappeared once we realised there were no available seats and the huge amount of people who we had been waiting with were all going to have to stand. It was hot (there was no air conditioning outside of the cabins), noisy and uncomfortable but it was a fortunately short ride (faster than the train we were originally planning to take).

Back to the chaos of Paris, I wish we would have had more time to see it again before moving on, but we had about 15 minutes to get to our international train and we weren’t sure if it would be there when we arrived. The strike had affected the metro as well, with lots of lines running infrequently and the metros that were going were packed full. I was just thankful the metro was running at all but standing in a cramped tiny metro car was not pleasant, with people pushed up on you and no space to breathe.

Just in case the day was not already stressful enough (and not containing anywhere near enough chocolate), a man standing next to me in the metro had some kind of epileptic fit right before our metro stop. I don’t even know how to communicate how terrifying the moment was, he started falling and then before I could even grasp the situation he started seizing on the ground. Obviously everyone tried to help him and once we got to the stop the alarm in our cart was pressed so that he could get help but it was a terrible feeling to stand there, not knowing how to help, not being able to communicate easily and also knowing that we only had a matter of minutes to get to the train station. Once we knew people were helping him and there was nothing more we could do we ran to our train, which by some miracle was still running, and found our seats with only minutes to spare.

I haven’t really cried much on the trip but by this point it had become a little too much, I felt stressed and scared for the guy on the metro and horrified that we had had to leave and not make sure he regained consciousness. I knew others were helping him and two more people would only get in the way, but I felt so selfish and after the stress of the day I was a bit of a mess. Even now thinking back I start to feel stressed, it was definitely the worst day of the entire holiday but somehow, incredibly, we managed to make it to Brussels.

I guess I should talk about Brussels, as we only had a short afternoon to get some sightseeing in. I wasn’t in a great mood and would have preferred to wrap myself up in blankets with some good delicious Belgian chocolate, but logic won over and we caught a bus from our B&B to the central square, Grand Place. I’m so glad we did, it was pretty late at this point so we wandered around the square, admiring the amazing architecture and enjoying a musician who was putting on a reggae show. We also went to find the ever famous statue of the pissing boy (Mannekin Pis), which was a bit of a let down considering half of the tourist shops were selling replicas that were bigger than the actual size. What was more entertaining were the two guys carrying around an Elvis statue and getting photos taken with him. We found a restaurant for dinner at the cute but incredibly busy Rue de Bouchers, and a much needed beer and then took our tired selves home where we subsequently collapsed.

Brussels is obviously a pretty big city and needs far more time to explore but I’m glad we got to take a glance at its main highlight. It was also great as everyone seemed to speak English and I was too exhausted mentally to try and speak French. By the end of the day I was still just kind of shocked that despite everything we had made it to Belgium in one piece.

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L is for Loire

We wanted to get from France to Belgium, and after looking at how ridiculously long the trains were from Bordeaux, we decided to stop on the way for one night in Tours, a small but bustling university city, located on the Loire river. We obviously didn’t have a whole load of time here (hence a rather short blog post) but we wanted to try and get a bit of the city into the afternoon (especially because the guest house we were staying at was a bit strange).

We wandered down the large Main Street, which is surprisingly pleasant thanks to all of the trees and greenery. The city is full of architectural gems, hidden throughout its busy streets. We thought we were taking a shortcut through a park and them realised that all the exits were closed, felt like the beginning to a horror movie). We took a look at the magnificent Cathedrale St-Gatien, a vision in stained glass and beautiful flying buttresses. The twin towers of the exterior were also impressive in a tall and towering kind of way. As we wandered through the cathedral someone seemed to be getting a lesson in playing the giant organ, which was quite funny to listen to.

After the cathedral we walked alongside the Loire river and made our way to the medieval central section of the city, which has tight little cobbled streets and a giant public square lined with restaurants and bars. In this area was the Basilica of St Martin, a complete contrast to the Cathedral’s renaissance/gothic styles with its ornate Romanesque architecture and a very damp smelling crypt below. Around the basilica were the ancient remains of the Charlemagne Tower and the original basilica whichever dated from ages ago…not going to get any more specific than that sorry :P.

All this architecture had made me hungry so we found a bar in the central square and settled in with some cider and pizza (the great vegetarian back up option, I will probably be sick of it before we even reach Italy). We ate slowly, as the sun went down and the students all came out. It was a great way to end a short but busy afternoon in a beautiful little city. And of course, as it was our last night in France (sob) we couldn’t finish without a Crème Brûlée that was nothing less than perfection.

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1. Beautiful buildings that looked important but I couldn’t be bothered to cross the road for
2&3. The cathedral thought it would be too big for my camera, pfft
4. The peaceful Loire river
5. The Basilica looking a little lovely and strange
6. & 7. The medieval town square where we ate which was charming and particularly lovely with a cold cider in the hot sun
8. No better way than to finish off our time in France

C is for Canelés

After one day acquainting ourselves with Lourdes, we left early morning to make the short hike to our next train to the rather large city of Bordeaux. We got off the train and were met by the incredible heat that was worse than anything we had experienced so far. Just waiting for a tram to our hotel we nearly melted, and then crammed on to a small non-air conditioned tram with what felt like all of Bordeaux, I thought I might die. Unfortunately, google directions are not always best so we ended up doing quite a lot of walking in order to find our Hotel, only to find that there was a direct entrance about 2 minutes from the tram stop. We were both a little grumpy and tired from the heat so we took refuge in our very modern room with amazing air conditioning, which was more like a mini apartment. Like any good write-off day we took the chance to do some much needed laundry and then grabbed an easy dinner from a local supermarket to munch on.

The next day we were ready to face the heat and get to know Bordeaux a little better, although it helped that the hotel put on one of the best breakfast buffets we had experienced. Our first stop were the Jardins Public, a large beautiful garden designed in the English style (which I now know is my favourite). We wandered around, enjoying the amazing park with its large ponds and bird life and the odd abandoned boat. It also had a botanic garden, with plant life from all over the world (although to me it all looks the same, green thumb I am not). It was one of my favourite city parks so far, with no sense of order and just an compelling urge to wander and get lost.

As always happen at least once on any good trip, we happened to only have one full day in Bordeaux and it was unluckily a public holiday so 80% of the shops and cafes were closed. I had a few places that I wanted to visit including a fromagerie that were found closed once eventually located. Luckily we managed to find one open cafe that sold homemade Canelés, a local pastry which is something like a cross between fried vanilla pancake dough and a delicious rum doughnut, I can understand why they are a big thing here. We enjoyed the pastries immensely, along with one of the few decent coffees we had in France. France is great at espresso (I guess you cant really go wrong there) but so far lattes and any other kind of milky coffee had been disappointing, and for fair reason as no one seems to drink them. Hey, I tried to like espresso and fit in but the relationship was doomed from the beginning.

With some fuel we decided to take on the belfry of a local cathedral (which was closed unfortunately) and climb its steps for some good views. The 231 steps were the steepest, most narrow steps I have ever had the pleasure to meet. As we were going up, we were sure there must be another stair case heading back down as there was no way two people would be able to pass each other (especially after all those Canelés). Turned out we were wrong and so began a bit of a game of trying to run up the stairs (I say run, I mean crawl whilst gasping for breath) and find a small nook in the wall where we could squish into whilst letting people past. As if climbing the claustrophobic staircase from hell wasn’t bad enough in itself. Luckily, once we emerged and recovered from the lack of breath, the views were well worth the effort.

Next up we walked down the pedestrian shopping street in Bordeaux which looks pretty cheap and nasty down one end but heading in the other direction gets better and better, with a lot of great shops (and somehow most were open) and a cute little cafe off the Main Street where we ate a delicious homemade quiche and salad for lunch after a not very easy conversation with the owner who thought he spoke English, but may have been overselling himself slightly.

The river side area is one of the new renovations of the city, and its popularity is obvious with people enjoying the amazing weather all around. We first admired the amazing sculptural Girodins monument/fountain and then headed down to take a look at the river front esplanade. There was a shady grass area and then just past some beautiful fower beds, my personal favourite, a wafer-thin paddling pool that alternated between a thin layer of water, swarming with kids and adults of all ages, and a weird mist like thing that everyone took great joy running through (even me…It was so hot I couldn’t resist). After a cider in the sunshine and a fair bit of people watching, we dragged our tired legs back to our air conditioning and ate a late dinner of bread with cheese, tomatoes and more cheese. Yum.

Overall, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Bordeaux. For a big city it has a lot of character and a very family friendly feel. I would come back again (preferably not with only one day being a public holiday) but perhaps when it is not quite so hot…and only if I was allowed to learn how to make a canelés.

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1. Jardins Public
2. Duck or goose eggs just lying around. Lucky we are vegetarian
3. A boat to picturesque to not photograph
4. More of the gardens
5. I promise these weren’t all for me…
6. Too big to fit in the photo but gorgeous all the same
7. Not bad from above either!
8. The city is not the prettiest when looked down on but after all those stairs I wanted a photo of it anyway
9. Our hotel. Or not.
10. Girodins monument
11. And a detail of the fountain cause these little guys were too cute
12. Reflection pool!
13. The mist! But a very different mist to that horror movie
14. And one more pretty fountain 🙂