Monday, March 11, 2013

Exchange Adventures: Bordeaux!

What happens when some of your best friends from business school decide they want to visit France for spring break? You hop on a cheap Vueling flight and go meet them, of course! I am so glad I was able to spend the weekend with Lauren + Angie + Julie + Jen in the lovely city of Bordeaux. Good friends... a beautiful city... delicious wine...  love.
Jen & I arrived on Friday afternoon and met the girls at our hotel, which was located in the "new city" right across the Pont de Pierre bridge.  We headed out almost immediately to explore the city and found... you guessed it... a church! (The St. Andre Cathedral to be exact.) I don't know what my deal is with churches but I seem to be growing more and more obsessed with exploring every one I see.
We stopped for a snack - Speculoos gelato for me - and then we found yet another church! The Notre Dame church was very impressive and I could have spent quite a bit more time in it.

However, we were in Bordeaux, which meant it was time to get to the wine.  We found a table at a crowded outdoor cafe by the church and got to work.  Then we headed to "The Wine Bar" and had a lovely evening enjoying wine, delicious food, and the adorable owner who put on country music upon learning we were from Texas.

The next morning we took a guided tour to St. Emilion. We were only able to visit one winery - the Chateau Cap de Fagueres, and we were really surprised at how modern and technologically advanced it was. It was more like a factory than the traditional wineries I've been to, but we were told this wasn't typically the case.

Next we went into the town and explored for about two hours. I wish we had more time - there was so much to see in such a small space! My favorite parts were the views from the watchguard tower, and the macaroons - a specialty in Bordeaux.  I'd definitely revisit this town - it was just so charming.

We returned to Bordeaux around 1:00pm and headed out for lunch and more exploring. We ended up at the Botanical Gardens for a bit, followed by another church (St. Michael) which turned out to be one of my favorites in Europe thanks to the austere decorations and very modern stained glass windows.

Not to be outdone by the Spanish, I can say that the French protest too! Here is a demonstration against nuclear power.

At this point Julie had gone to the train station, so it was just four of us. We started the evening at Bar a Vin, which was advertised as having 30 Bordeaux wines ranging from 3-8 euros a glass. Not knowing how good the wines would be, or how big our pours would be, we each ordered 2 glasses. Let me say that this place was incredible! We learned more about wines here than we did during the rest of our trip thanks to some helpful brochures, signage, and tasting. This is a most-go place for Bordeaux.

Finally, before ending the night at a pizza place, I manged to convince everyone to make a stop at the carnival! (Haha, little did they know this had been my plan all along!) Ferris wheels! Slides! Cotton candy! Water balls! SO MUCH FUN!!!!

The next morning, Angie & I went for a run along the water before breakfast.  I think breakfast in French actually just means bread, because my plate was a baguette, a croissant, a chocolate croissant, and a raisin roll. Not that I'm complaining, for the record.  We wandered around a bit more, grabbed coffee in the same square previously occupied by the protesters, and then Jen and I caught a bus to the airport.  We were back in Barcelona by 3:30pm, which meant I still had time to enjoy a lovely afternoon with Joe. (And here is accounts from the Barcelona Beer Festival, which was a bummer to have missed. For the record, I still wouldn't have traded my weekend.) 

Thank you Lauren & Angie for planning such a fun time! Hard to believe the next time I will be with the two of them again will be at graduation. But there is still much more traveling to be done... phew!

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