Bordeaux (and a bit of Bayonne) in 24 Hours

One hot afternoon, frantically looking for a tobacco shop to buy some “goods” before the bus leaves. One way ticket from La Défense near Paris, to Bordeaux commonly known as South of France. I can feel the excitement, walking the Camino de Santiago is within days! The bus arrived at around 8PM. Walked to the Gare de Bordeaux train station to be a homeless bum and sleep inside. I thought they are open 24 hours but damn, they close the station from 12AM to 6AM. Then this beefed up female security guard aggressively telling me to fuck off, in French of course.

McDonalds is just outside so I set up my sleeping mat in their chairs and put on my sleeping bag. We’re talking individual chairs not a bench so it was uncomfortable on my back. The area is a bit sketchy, loud teenagers, few homeless people around, one asked me for a smoke in French but I just said I don’t understand. Minutes into my sleep and I can feel the drizzle on my face. On and off which is annoying but pleading to the gods not to rain. Only had, maybe, 5 hours of sleep. I got woken up by street cleaners and day workers walking around me. This situation is becoming more common for me. Enough to have lost my care for what people are thinking of me sleeping like a homeless person.

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So I packed up my sleeping gear. Its still early, around 5am. Tired and hungry but I gotta get up and explore a little bit of this famous city. I went to the river foreshore and it started raining. Not heavily but enough to get wet. Passed a lot of exercising people (biking, running, etc.) and a couple lovebirds smooching in the bench. Its too early for any shops to be open so I decided to sleep under the city’s picturesque Pont de Pierre bridge. I don’t know how I manage to sleep sitting down, leaning against the bridge post. I must be really tired and sleepy still.

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Several minutes later, its still raining and cold. I bloody had enough. So I kept walking until I got to the city’s famous le miroir d’eau, world’s largest reflecting pool or water mirror in front of Place de la Bourse. They filled it tiny bit of water, just enough to reflect the surroundings to the ground. It is raining though and overcast so the reflection is not happening. Proceeded to walk to rue Saint-Rémi, then turn left to rue Sainte-Catherine, famous for cafe and shopping, walking as far as where the arch victory is, Porte d’Aquitaine. Turn left to Cours de la Marne, going back towards Gare de Bordeaux. So basically I just did a loop of the city. I would say Bordeaux is just like Paris but quiet and inviting. The cranny surroundings are old, classic and historical just like the capital.

But what is Bordeaux if you don’t drink their finest wines? The world renown wines from the South Of France, exported to the world. So I bought the cheapest wine in the supermarket. €6EUR for 2 bottles of wine. Coming from Saint Emilion and Bordeaux wineries. A bragging rights to wine connoisseurs. “Oh yes, I can taste that fruitiness with a hint of earthy taste. Must had a bad winter season.” 😀

Its lunch time and I must say goodbye to Bordeaux. I had an interesting time but I have tight schedule and two more towns to pass through. Few hours later, I found myself in Bayonne and when I arrived I saw the people dress up in white and red. Hang on, is this really the town of Bayonne? or Did I miss my stop and went all the way to Pamplona? I thought Running of the Bulls happened last week!

Welcome to Basque Country Carl! I am lucky enough to witness their celebration of Fêtes de Bayonne. So I proceeded to drink my wine for the festivities while I wait for another bus to go to my final destination for the day, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. One of the old revellers gave me a thumbs up and saying something funny in French? or Spanish? or Basque language? I mean, I am sitting in a gutter while holding and drinking a bottle of wine on the side’s street, looking at photos on my laptop. Can’t get any gutter trash than that. Oh yeah I had a haircut at the barbershop just in front of Gare de Bayonne train station. I know I am homeless but I don’t want to look the part.

Anyway, by 7PM, literally the end of the day (sun is setting), the bus made it to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Checked in to the hostel, cleaned myself up and ask if they are serving dinner tonight. “Oops, sorry, we just finished eating dinner.” Nnnnooooo. All supermarkets are closed and I don’t want to pay top dollar for expensive restaurants around the area. Oh well, cigarettes and wine for dinner. Looks like I’m sleeping hungry tonight.