Dream Trip Day 27   Bordeaux to Lisboa, Portugal by plane, finally sun

My flight was at noon so we left around 10. Eric has a cool small car and Snoop hops in the back taking up the whole backseat, always painting always happy!

Said goodbye to Eric and Snoop. Thanked him for cooking, room and hospitality.

Flight was in small, unfinished part of airport, hence the cost savings.

Goodbye sunscreen, thanks security.

Boarded on tarmac, ladders on front and back of plane.

Of course it rained, of course people inside took their time so I and many others got soaked despite stewards pleas to hurry as it wasn’t full flight, just get out of the aisle.

Thought it was a 2 hr flight but we lost an hour so really 3 hrs in the air.

Easy navigation to hostel via bus. Difficult to locate door to hostel however. Walked around the block twice before I found it.

Simple check in, huge room with many bunks, I’m on top per usual.

Set out to see ocean, only a few blocks away.

Stare at the sea and feel sun, cool breeze for the first time in a week.

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Men walk around selling sunglasses, marijuana, hashish, cocaine.

I was asked about 10 times to buy drugs before I left the seaport. I was there an hour.

The hostel posted a sign saying don’t buy street drugs as they are fake and it isn’t a crime to sell anything not illegal so cops do not stop them.

There is a large euro zone fan screen area nearby. I get a beer and watch a boring game until the half and people watch.

In search of food but it’s all either expensive or tapas which wind up being expensive as you’ve got to order many plates.

Settle on doner and once again it does not disappoint.

Back to hostel as sun sets to shower.

2€ bottles so I drink several on a narrow balcony, only wide enough to stand, 2 ppl max.

Hostel has guitars so I strum chords for a while and miss playing mine but yet when I was at home with guitar next to me I rarely played.

Loudest snorer ever in my dorm. A lady actually wakes him up  in the middle of the night and says, ‘please turn over. You’re snoring.’

Beer: Super Bock

Song: Edith Piaf La Vie en Rose 

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Dream Trip Days 21-26    Bourg rain rain rain

Not too much to write about, it rained all day, so there wasn’t anything to do nor drive to see for nearly a week.

I wrote most of the first 20 posts during this time.

We watched every match, each day of Euro Cup stating at 3, ending around midnight.

Eric made croque madam, baguettes, rice, pasta, + cordon bleu, dinner around 7. These meals were some of the best on the trip! So much flavor, huge portions were much welcomed!

 


Lots of coffee and smoking.

Breakfast was pastries and apple juice with coffee.

No rain Sunday so had just enough time to do laundry and find a 12th century church.


There was a slight break in the rain Wednesday so we drove to Bordeaux.

Walked around futbol stadium and overheard national anthem being sung.

Maybe was in town for an hour or two before it rained again.

I focused on new experience and it was a free room, stay positive.

Eric’s dinners were the highlight of the day for sure and always gave me something to look forward to while it rained and I wrote.

 

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View from Eric’s rear window of a market that has been open and running for over a century!

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Map du Bourg

Songs: the Carpenters   Rainy Days and Monday’s
Beers: Maredsous and Affligem

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Dream trip Day 20   Bourg, baguettes, French party

Wake up to coffee and pastries.

Eric drinks chicory coffee, probably 5 cups a day.

We walk around the city, down to the place where two rivers meet, the Dore and Garonne, a short walk from his place and one of the spots he takes Snoop for walks.

A trip to see the city citadel is decided.

The area was a major entry port to the country centuries ago and used to be heavily fortified with forts and citadels, each with long range cannons.

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We enjoy a beer after a quick walking tour of the grounds. Great views of the area, ancient stone walls still standing.

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We go to a large grocery store in the next town for more bread, aged ham, chips and beer.

Eric may be one of the few not only French, but Parisians who doesn’t like wine so we drank Belgium Abby ales the entire time I stayed.

Eric makes me a sandwich the French way: baguette, butter on one side, a Dijon-esque spicy mayo on the other, ham and cheese.

No vegetables are found in Eric’s house.

We were going to a friends house for a party that night. It wasn’t a far walk, just down the street, a couple hundred meters.

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We are early it seems, well doesn’t seem to be any set start time as we have to wait for Eric’s friend to arrive.

No one other than Eric speaks English. The wife of the honored guest is excited to have me and we figure out a communication system.

Everyone talks, laughs, children play, music is turned on.

I find a place outside and soak up rural French life occasionally going in to grab a beer that I brought.

After awhile, I’m out of beer so the host lady springs into action with whiskey and cola, no ice really is a thing here.

As soon as I finish my beverage, the host lady or someone else grabbed my cup for a refill.

I see a guy at a table outside with lots of tobacco and a funnel for about an hour.

Mega joint has been rolled and is passed around.

I wonder how I can climb the stairs to bed but somehow make it.

Beer: Leff rituel
Song: Louane   Je Vole

Dream trip Day 19   Lyon to Bordeaux, Eric n Snoop, Bourg

I’m the first in my room to wake around 9. Funny how I drink until late but still wake up fairly early, probably the sun and snoring help.

Cruise to a bread spot for coffee and croissant which I eat in the small park near the hostel.

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It’s about a 40 min walk to the rail station and a 7hr bus ride ahead so I scan for grocery stores along the way.

Pop into a small market and pick up sandwich and fruit.

Most buses have been late this trip so to my surprise I see bus waiting 15 min before departure.

Bus is full so I sit next to a small girl in the middle. First time I didn’t see empty seats.

Most depart at next stop to my relief, got seats to myself.

Small towns with churches and green rolling hills, fly by.

We stop for 30 min at a highway gas station so I get a coffee and eat a piece of fruit.

A thin, model hot girl chain smokes and talks loudly on her phone the entire time.

It begins to rain again as we pull out from the station so I close my eyes but sleep does not come.

We pull into Bordeaux at dusk.

Everyone is watching the Euro match in the square, chanting and singing.

I see Eric and Snoop, his dog.

We get beers and talk while the game finishes.

On the way to his car we encounter loud, drunk fans singing and trying to get passersby to join in with little success.

We drive for a while, well outside the city and lights, further and darker.

A few turns we are in old, gothic town with narrow, stone streets.

There is a celebration winding down in the courtyard his apartment overlooks.

This courtyard has held events and farmers markets since the 12th century.

We have a beer and a spliff before bed.

Beer: Grimbergen
Song: Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot   Bonnie and Clyde

Dream trip Day 18   Lyon, stairs, Northern Irish blokes

Woke up round 9, locked up and got dressed.

Located coffee bakery shop with view of old church. Great start to any day.

Walk towards river and find pedestrian only street that follows the river.

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Cross river on pedestrian bridge, walking past boats, cruise ships.

Many boat restaurants seem permanently docked, while party cruise ships sail but likely not very far, just round Lyon at night.

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Continue walking through old Lyon, cobblestone streets now, no cars.

Rest in front of smaller, still big church courtyard with fountain.

Kids group takes over fountain and courtyard so I watch as they learn and play.

See stairs that seem to go up forever, keep walking, many head up this way.

Pass by ATMs, Subway and other new stores that have been retrofitted to old architecture.

Another flight of older, smaller stairs that no one is using, figure best to mount & struggle with them alone.

Hundreds of stairs later and I’m at the top, sweaty but not too out of breath.

Locate bench to recover, see kids ride up on bikes.

One takes out spray paint can and tags small area with blue symbol and they run away.

Amazing view of Lyon from highest point! Mix of old and new buildings, cathedrals.

You can see the two rivers, Rhone and Saone, that bisect the town and all of old Lyon below.

Thinking Lyon > Paris


Blind accordion player situated right by tram is a blur of fingers as he plays a fast tune greeting the tourists departing the rail. Change please is the name of this tune.

Head to nature park, hospital grounds, behind the cathedral.

See buses pull in and older crowds appear.

Head down different route, down a steep street, then stairs, back to a street and so on until I’m in old Lyon.

It’s afternoon so must be time for ice cream, everyone has a cone or bowl. I drink the last of my water, don’t want to waste my stair workout on a cone.

Rush hour traffic makes it harder crossing roads.

Head to hostel to refill water bottle and use Wifi. Locate a park nearby that used to be a military fort.

Fort is closed but huge courtyard is open, people skating, playing soccer, basketball.

I find a skate park and post up on bench to watch skateboarders and in line skaters turn tricks on small ramp and pool like bowl, while sun goes down.

On the walk back home run into a groc store so get some things, first large grocery store with produce and meat market I’ve seen, most are very small convenience sized.

Sit on the grass in now crowded park near hostel and eat a sandwich. People are drinking wine, playing chess or cards while children play on the equipment.

Gaze up at apt that overlooks the park to see a man, with arm over a woman in front of him on their windowsill, sharing a smoke. Most romantic scene I’ve encountered in France but alas they are too far to photograph even when I zoom.

Decide to get beer for the night vs paying 5$ per pint.

Stop into Lidl, a small groc store similar to Aldi that I’ve seen throughout the country.

End of day discount for croissants is too good to pass up, a quarter vs. 1.5$!

Return to hostel to put beer in fridge to see lady using all the burners to cook beans, sausages, veggies. A queue of pasta is lined up to one side of the range as people wait.

I shower and return to find someone in my bunk sleeping. What?!

Talk to reception, yes my bunk was given away and they are totally booked.

For about 2 min I’m convinced I will have to find another hostel for the night. It’s 10pm.

After talking with another guy and checking computer, he says they saved a bunk that I can have for same cost, but in a room with fewer people. Score!

I head outside with a beer to calm myself after transferring my bags to new room.

Thus far people have been sleeping at all hours of the day when I’ve entered dorms, 3pm, 7pm and 9pm.

I place the rest of my 6 pack into the fridge and head outside to cool down from my near panic moment.

I sit next to older man quietly smoking hand rolls and drinking wine. Throughout he night he will go through two bottles, glass after glass in silence.

I overhear English for a change, mostly French and Italian before tonight.

I decide to join them after my next beer.

‘English, where are y’all from?’ I ask.

‘N Ireland,’ one them tells me.

They are drinking wine, Cotes du Rhome, by the bottle and are amazed at the price.

They are following N. Ireland team across France as this is first time in a decade they’ve scored a goal in the Euros, much less qualified to play.

I tell them I’m from the states, ‘ah well what’s the fooking deal with Trump, man? Get that sorted out.’

They all laugh and tell me it’s hard to talk to an Irishman without including politics.

They find a small cup on the table and pour me some wine, ‘drink what we drink, mate.’

The next few hours they rag on one guy who is driving them to Marseille in the morning but promised not to drink past a certain hour, which has long passed.

Just after midnight he leaves, weary of arguing about how pissed he is and how sober he’ll be in a few hours.

They eat crips from a huge bag, each farts loudly the whole night.

Politics is discussed, they do want a united Ireland but more than that, a new system. They worry about what the UK would do if they left, how the EU works, trade improvements, etc.

We change subjects to music. I list Beatles, radiohead, the Clash as my favs.

They don’t like U2, Bono is a cunt, but have all seen them live and conceded they put on a good show.

Round 2am they agree to call it a night, 4 bottles later, me a 6 pack in.

We are the only ones outside.

I wish them a good trip and said I’ll follow the team during the Euro series.

Beer: Koenigbier

Song: Phoenix  1901

 

 

Dream trip Day 17   Farewell Strasbourg, long drive to Lyon, France

Wake up late, hosts have gone to work.

They left bread and fruit out for bfest, super hard bread, crunchy, chewy. I spread raspberry jam and butter to aid in swallowing.

It sprinkles rain as I pack up so I search routes while it peters out.

Find route to old town near cathedral and coffee spot I was at yesterday.

As soon as I turn onto main road out of neighborhood I see tents and hear music!

The street has been closed for a weekend fair. Clothes, food and art are on display and for sale.

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I slowly walk by each stand and listen to the music. I pass a woman eating a frites sandwich on big baguette drowned in mayo.

Max French stereotype are here as I pass accordion kid squeezing out tunes with hat out for tips.

No mimes spotted, but yes there is wine on tap . Nearly every other French stereotype seen.

Fair ended with older man playing sad, mournful tunes on violin as people enter, exit the fair.

I walked back to area I was in last night, pass by betting bar, still full.

Find Goethe Park with statue and carousel. Kids and adults enjoyed the ride.

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Notre Dame is huge here too, a smaller but still very large gothic cathedral built-in 1600s or before, lots of invaders tear it down only to rebuild.

Find old town Strasbourg built-in 1200s and dammit again Subway, a bank, McDonald’s all retro to fit into ancient architecture.

Order a coffee and get cappuccino. I guess coffee and milk is odd or I just don’t know how to order in French.

Locate groc  and order a jambon baguette. Very filling, French with lots of mayo and butter.

Follow river to a park where I watch men mow, kids play dodge ball like game.

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Find another park a few blocks away.

Note it’s near Jewish school guarded by men with auto weapons, machine guns strapped and they look serious.

Sit in park and watch older group take 5 min to sit down on pillows.

Huge 4ft tall shaggy dog romps by, like a werewolf sized. Huge fluffy wolf dog that isn’t on a leash.

Walk around park, notice guys in machine guns out back of school too.

One guard walks my way, slowly.

I think a moment and look away, then it hits me: I’ve got 2 bags, walking by a guarded school, they may think I have bomb or gun, who knows, I’m the only one with a backpack in the park!

Walk on the other trail opposite side of the fortified school and out of park, took the long cut out of action away from the guards.

Find Irish pub and hang for a pint, only businessmen drinking, working on a deal.

Rock on jukebox, CCR, Zep, Purple, can finally relax a bit.

Order a local blonde beer, it’s good, uses perla hops which I’ve not heard of before.

A guy trying to leave drops his glass to my left. It shatters loudly in the quiet bar.

Bartendress excited for something to do springs to sweep the pieces up.

One more pint, then hit WC and 10 min walk to a convention center which is my meeting place.

Hop in blabla car with Alexandre who is driving 3 of us to Lyon.

Blabla car is like long distance Uber, it matches up drivers and passengers on long trips throughout Europe.

A bit cheaper and much faster than rail and bus. This is a 7+ hour bus or train ride as the both make stops. It’s only 5 hours by car.

None of the others in the car speak English so I can only talk to Alexandre.

They have a long exchange, I pick up a bit, every third word or so and determine it’s about the route and types of people in the cities along the way.

Alexandre confirms discussion was about people and radars. Cars have sensors in them, like toll tags, along each highway are scanners that determine speed and you get a fine if you’re caught.

Sensors also used to pay tolls as all French highways are tolled too. Expensive to drive in France but rural roads are not tolled.  These go through towns with stoplight and farm animals that slow you down.

We talk about films, he is a photographer, family is in film business.

He likes Goddard, Truffaut and other French directors.

Really enjoyed Amelie but director didn’t film anything else as good.

He likes to drive fast, but makes mistakes and it is great to hear him say ‘merde!’

Drive through many small towns due to wrecks and traffic on highways.

Amazing views of forests letting out steam after rain, it slowly rises to join clouds.

We make it in close to 5 hrs, after 10pm.

Wave goodbye and the quietest one agrees to show me route via tram. Hands me a pass and points to stop, then street on the wall sized map near metro entrance.

‘Çe va?’ He asks as he pretends to wipe sweat from his brow in a very mime like exaggerating, ‘easy,’ he says and walks off.

It is easy, no problem finding train but cannot find the street I need. I’m at a three road split, none seemed labeled.

I watch a fire team rescue people off a multistory building with a long, mechanical stretcher/cherry picker.

Find my Rue and pass by many people standing around, talking on phones, listening to music or hanging out in small groups on the corner.

Check in and get a bunk. Most beds filled with sleepers, it’s 11pm.

Change into shorts and flip-flops. Beer served 24hrs at hostel.

Get a pint and sit outside. No English tonight. All French, German.

Another pint and think about staying for a full day.

Reschedule bus for Friday, 24hrs in Lyon tomorrow!

Hit the bunk after midnight, fall asleep to snores and farts.

Beer: Perla Blond
Song: Peter Sarstedt  Where Do You Go (My Lovely)

Dream trip Day 16 Goodbye Zurich, rain, Strasbourg France

Everyone wakes up to the sound of the loudest cell alarm I’ve ever heard.

Guy next bunk over is in restroom so alarm is pointless for him. Another guy finds phone and silences it. 

I note it’s only 8 and roll over, more rest, everyone does the same.

Sleep for an hour. Listen to others shower, pack loudly, and start the day.

I get a big return on key, everywhere makes you pay a deposit on key.

I use part of deposit on cup of coffee while I stare at map to determine my route to bus station that cuts through old Zürich and river.

It’s a straight walk down a strausse near, the route I took yesterday looks even more dumb.

Walk down Lagerstrasse, not a beer joint on it as far as I can tell.


Cross a nice bridge and I’m in old town, built around 1400s.

Now mostly hotels, restaurants and tourist stores. All Swiss store is first thing I note.

Oh there’s a McDonald’s and Subway, still haven’t figured out why anyone eats there when literally next door is a bakery with better, fresh sandwiches.

It’s not 5$ foot longs, now it’s 10€ halfs haha wow!

Walk down narrow, stone streets, big enough for 1 small car, though most streets are people only, not even bikers can ride through.

Stop for sandwich at äss bar, prob means something else here.

Use last of my francs and still have to kick in a euro for egg asswitch.

Rest and eat sammitch in small park while I watch vendors set up by unpacking chairs, tables while others unload small vans with food and other goods.

Walk towards bus stop and encounter US fam, grandma is pushed by teen who gives up as granny doesn’t want to be pushed across street. As soon as her feet hit the sidewalk she is back in her chair demanding a push.

Pass an art museum next to the river, which explains all the small statues along the riverbank and in river nearby.

My bus is here and waiting so I just walk on board, not crowded, so I get window seat with no neighbor.

No Alps that I can see, just more green fields, clock towers and trees.

Begins to rain, I wonder if will keep it up while I’m in town.

I fall asleep for a while and wake up to clear skies and a stop in a small border town.

From the people I see this is a uni town, lots of young adults all around.

We are soon in Strasbourg and are dropped by tourist info center.

I walk by the river and see many people resting so I lie down and watch people pass by.

Decide I need a coffee and charge my phone, the bus has outlets at each seat but mine did not charge and most other seats taken.

Locate place named I Love Coffee, figure English is spoken, which is wrong.

Struggle to get coffee with milk and end up with cappuccino.

Locate seat near outlet and enjoy group of teen girls, volleyball or soccer team, try to order complicated Starbucks like drinks.

Book bus and hostel for next night in Lyon so all good now.

Walk along river taking pics of forts and ped only bridges.

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Town is very gothic and a lil French in places, a bit German in others.

See couple rowers in the river, and note how dark the clouds are now and powerful wind, will rain hard soon.

Now full strength winds blow twigs and nuts from trees which pelt me all over.

I search for a close bar, anything with cover that will let me stay awhile.

10 min speed walk and I’m near horse betting bar when it starts pouring rain.

Figure need to stay awhile and wait out rain so order a beer.

Many are staring at horse with carriage race about to start on huge TV.

I watch but do not understand why people love and bet $ on this activity.

Rain has taken away signal so cannot get directions to apt, have to use map and find street names but have address.

Another beer, have to stay dry and all.

Walk in drizzling rain awhile, which stops as I near apt in very residential area.

Call host and I’m a couple blocks off. Very secure check in, coded elevator and locked doors to get in.

He takes me in and makes coffee so I dry out a bit.

I set clothes to dry all over room, it rains hard again against bedroom window.

Host leaves to workout and gives me info so I can get back in.

Haven’t eaten most of the day so I go wander in search of food but this is very residential area, few food options.

It’s late too so most places are closed anyway, but find open doner spot.

Get full sandwich and frites with mayo, can of peach soda.

Cook turns TV from crazy Turkish spy movie to a soccer match.

Again great meal, but on pita like bread, not rolled, many veg.

Everyone that enters say ‘Bonsoire’ and then look at me if I do not say it back. It then hits me, French are default nice but are confused as being mean.

Sort of like, ‘ be nice back to me!’ They take it as being rude if your aren’t nice in return.

I return to apt as it begins to sprinkle and sun is down.

Shower and soon it’s 11, very tired, long semi stressful day so its an early night.

Beer: La Grihète
Song: Black Mountain   Mary Lou