1 July 2019 – A weekend in Bordeaux: the glimmer of hope to continue my journey

Everything was becoming mundane. After 2 to 3 months of endless commutes and unfortunate events, the simple thought of even walking around anywhere exhausted me and I simply didn’t feel excited by anything anymore.

By this time I’d been traveling for at least 9 months. The fun of traveling seemed to have gone ever so quickly and it seemed like all I was encountering was problem after problem.

Diary entry:The past two or three months of this limbo-like blur of travel which has been utterly unmotivating and unexciting for me has done nothing but left me feeling a little bit lost and empty. I’ve felt relatively robotic…like I’ve been plodding along, going from destination to destination without taking much notice or properly enjoying a place.

 At the time, I honestly thought that the universe was telling me that it was time for me to end my journey and go home.

But then, something miraculous happened…

After perhaps weeks of the biggest lull of my one-year journey around the world…I unexpectedly wound up in Bordeaux, met the right people and had the right amount of random adventures to re-gain the strength to continue with my journey.

But it wasn’t without shedding multiple tears before I could start seeing the light again.

My Bordeaux Adventure

*WARNING: this is a super-long read ~  if you want to read only a specific part of my story, then click on the part that interests you

 I hope you enjoy!

The build up: two weeks before going to Bordeaux

I was doing a Workaway in a vineyard south of France (I dunno why but I randomly had this dream to work on a vineyard while on my travels ~ in my head, it was a beautiful and romantic idea).

In some ways…it was a beautiful life ~ imagine waking up at about 6 every morning, having breakfast and then going out into the vineyard to clip or tuck those vines…or perhaps cleaning and bottling some wine and then ending your day with a glass of wine and local produce among the sound of stillness and in the sun.

What a life right?

It truly felt paradisaical…but only at the beginning.

But it wasn’t the work or place which changed my experience from being wonderful to horrible ~ it was my boss.

Even though we got along really well at first, his deep-seated prejudices eventually started slipping through the cracks by the end of the first week…and slowly but surely, I began to feel more and more trapped and suffocated.

By the end of the first week, I really couldn’t wait to leave…but I still had to deal with a whole week with that man.

A whole week!!!

As the week progressed, I kept trying to be positive. I hoped things would get better…but contrary to my hopes, things got worse. They got so bad that on my second last day we argued so bad to the point where I cried my heart out and couldn’t even bring myself to leave my room. The last thing I wanted was to see his face again.

Having some down-time in my vineyard room

It was definitely time for me to go. I didn’t care that I still had 1 more day of work left.

Lesson learnt: if things don’t feel right when you’re traveling, don’t tolerate it. Just leave. Traveling is such a valuable thing with the experiences of a lifetime. Don’t waste your time on unnecessary frustration and conflict.            

The only issue ~ I booked a ride to Bordeaux for the next day but had nowhere to stay for the night…

At least until I spoke to my vineyard neighbour Adrian anyway. He was so kind enough to offer his place for me to crash and even drop me to my pickup point the next day. We decided to make the most of my last night there and explored a local villages, as well as drank with his friends. It turned out to be the FUNNEST night I had in the whole of France…perhaps a little too much fun because we didn’t go to bed until probably 3 or 4 in the morning (we had to wake up by 6AM to get me to my drop-off point and so that Adrian could make it to work on time).

The outside of Adrian’s place

6.00AM ~ The race against time

We had less than 1.5 hours, to get ready, get breakfast, get to my next stop and get Adrian to work. To top things off, each destination was far away from each other. We literally spent the whole journey rushing and stressing about getting me to my pickup point and Adrian to work on time. No wonder he drove like a mad man. The roads were so windy and it was so foggy that I couldn’t even see a few meters ahead of me. I’m surprised that we didn’t crash at the speed he was going (and the roads are SUPER windy too).

I honestly didn’t think we’d make it…but against all odds…we both did and with time to spare!

I got out of the car, grabbed my bags and said goodbye…

As soon as Adrian left, I looked around and saw nothing but a hall, parking lot, bins…crops and trees…and lots of fog. It was just me, myself and a whole bunch of nothingness.

I swear, if it was the slightest bit darker, I would have thought I was in one of those places in the movies where murderers take their victims to be killed. But it was too early in the morning for my imagination to play tricks on me.

I sat on my backpack, ate my breakfast pastries and waited for my driver. I should have been excited to leave the vineyard but at that moment, all I cared about was sleep (I was desperately hungover).

8:30AM
Just as my mind began floating, a black car emerged from the fog and stopped across the road.

It was my driver (Elisa)! Yay!

We recognised each other straight away because we coincidentally met the night before. She smiled, waved and opened the boot of the car for me to squish my backpack into. I greeted her with a kiss on the cheek and off we went.

I was finally going to Bordeaux 😊

As excited as I was, I couldn’t help feeling a little sad…because I just met great people the night before and had a fun-filled night with them. I wanted to spend more time with them. But oh well, what could I do? (the perks of traveling right?)

Elisa and I got along well. We spoke for the whole journey except for when I tried sleeping. She was an older, blonde lady from the Netherlands who lived in Spain for the past 12 years but decided to move to France because she was made redundant in Madrid. She was ready start a brand-new life somewhere else and even found romance in France. She was driving back to Spain for the weekend and decided to try using Blablacar to make her long journey a little more interesting.

I was her first customer.

We spoke about many things ~ love, Dutch people, life in Spain, life in France, learning French and Spanish and Workaway.

Time actually flew so fast because I had no idea we’d get to Bordeaux so quickly…

Arriving to Bordeaux

After being on the highway for a couple of hours Elisa pulled over near the train station and gently said:

“This is where I drop you off”

I was so shocked because I wasn’t mentally prepared to arrive that quickly. I felt so rushed and lost when I get out of the car and said goodbye.

What am I supposed to do now? Am I REALLY in Bordeaux?!

It was such a strange feeling because I didn’t believe I was even in a city (it didn’t feel like it) but the big sign in front of my face saying Gare de Bordeaux-Saint-Jean was telling me otherwise (Gare = station in French).

I needed time to compose my thoughts and figure out what I was doing with my life.

All I could think about was going to a café, having a coffee and croissant, and planning how I was going to get to the hostel…

First question of the day: should I walk or use public transport?

As much as I wanted to walk…I was so exhausted and hungover that walking anywhere far away with my heavy backpacks seemed like WAY too much of a mission.

There was a big café right next to me with purple awnings and many available tables outside in the sun. It only made sense go there.

It seemed so busy because that the waiters didn’t even bother to look up at me when I went inside to order.

Me: “Excusi moi, un café espresso si‘l vous plait” (Excuse me, one coffee please).

Waiter: “ici ou a emporter?” (here or take away?)_

Me: “Ici” (I’m glad I knew what “here” meant in French because I had no idea what the other word meant)

I had no idea what he said next but assumed that he told me to sit down and they’d bring the coffee to me. Of course I was going to sit outside in the sun while I figured out my plan of attack. It was so nice to sit down…and in sun too….but where the hell was my coffee?

It had been about 10-15 minutes already.

I waited for 5 minutes more…my patience was wearing thin.

*sigh* if I don’t get my coffee in 5 minutes, I’m leaving.

5 minutes passed and still…nothing.

Well, their loss.

But should I catch a bus or to walk to the hostel?

My mind was so indecisive ~ I couldn’t be bothered looking for a coffee and or walking to the hostel….but then I had so much time before check-in…and felt like I needed to burn off all those pastries I was eating (these are the first-world problems you face on your travels).

I may as well walk to the hostel and find coffee along the way. I mean what else am I going to do in 5 or 6 hours?

The only problem? The hostel was almost an hour away ☹

I guess I can always catch a bus along the way too if I get too tired.

After about 15 minutes of walking, my bottle ran out of water, I started getting super thirsty and needed a toilet. After 15 minutes, I hadn’t found a single place that was open.

Surely somewhere would pop up along the way sooner or later?

5 minutes more passed…nothing.

10 minutes.

15 more….

Still nothing.

Fun fact: French cafes usually don’t open until much later than the ones in Australia. In Australia, many cafes cater for early risers but in France, it’s hard to find a café that’s open before 8.30AM.

My bags were getting heavier by the second…and the heat was getting stronger.

Regret for my decision started kicking in and my hope in finding a place was quickly diminishing…but then…as fate would have it ~ just as I was about to give up and hop on a bus, a shimmer of hope came and I found a place that was open! But sadly for me, there were just too many people and too much noise. I just couldn’t bring myself to be around so many people in that stage of my life.

ARGH!!!

I knew deep down that I needed to be patient…because if there’s anything I’ve learnt from my travels, it’s that you will get exactly what you need when you have patience.

10 more minutes passed…

My neck and shoulders were aching like crazy and my bags were getting heavier and heavier.

My legs…weak and mind…fried and foggy.

Despair began kicking in.

Am I EVER going to find a place!?

You will find it soon Mei

I had to give myself hope to keep going right? But my doubts kept kicking in because the further I walked, the more nothingness I found.

Maybe it was time to just give up on walking and catch that darn bus.

I struck a deal with myself: just 10 more minutes and if you don’t find that anything, then you’re catching the bus.

It was so strange because when the 10th minute came, I found exactly what I was looking for ~ a cute little ice cream shop tucked in the corner of with absolutely ZERO customers.

Yes!!!

I went inside, dropped my bags on the floor, ordered a coffee and sat down.

Oh. My. God. Words could not express how good it felt to give my body that break it so well needed. I just wished the coffee would’ve helped my hangover but you can’t win everything right?

It was so nice that I wanted to stay there forever…but the temperature was rapidly rising and I couldn’t help but feel that the longer I waited, the more difficult the walk to the hostel would become.

I sat there, procrastinating for over an hour before continuing my journey.

Arriving at the hostel

After walking more for what seemed like an eternity, I couldn’t believe I’d finally made it.

What a journey!

Upon entering, I was greeted with a big “reception upstairs after the Patio” painted on the wall. When I finally got up the stairs and to the big reception/common area, I was welcomed straight away.

Staff: “Bonjoir” “Hello”!

There was a guy behind the counter and a short, young girl with blonde hair holding a broom when she greeted me.

I had a good feeling about the place.

Me: “Hi, I have a booking here for tonight made in booking.com.”

Blonde girl: “Do you have your passport?”

Me: “Yes”

I fumbled around my bag to get my passport.

She entered some details into their system and asked:

“Would you like breakfast and to join for our family dinner for 5 euros? You get dinner and a glass of wine.”

How could I say no!? Even a glass of wine was included!

Me: “Yes please!”

Blonde girl: “OK, so we need to take the payment now. It’s 35 euros, plus the tourist tax which is a 2 euro deposit and the family dinner.”

*sigh*

My heart sank. 35 euros was A LOT!

I reluctantly took out my card and signed my life away.

There was still 3 hours before check-in so I decided to treat myself to a nice lunch.

I dropped my bags behind reception, took a shower and sat in the communal area while searching for a place to eat. Maybe the guy at reception could help me:

Me: “Excuse me, is there anywhere you can recommend to eat?”

Guy: “If you go on this street apparently it’s got good food. I don’t really know because I don’t go out much here.”

Me: “Thanks anyway”

Well that didn’t help

I was so bored and hungry by then that I quickly skimmed through some blogs and picked the first place which looked good to me without thinking twice (and yes I walked again).

I was expecting it to be busier but only 3 other tables were occupied. It was exactly what I was looking for ~ cosy, modern and fancy. It almost felt like I was in a cave with furniture and a bar.

Everything was pretty nice but not breathtaking. I was a little disappointed.

Back at the Hostel

As soon as I arrived, enough time passed for me to be able to check in.

YAAASS!!!

I was so excited to finally get a bed. I couldn’t wait to lie down.

I followed the guy up more and more stairs until we got to my allocated room. I was so relieved to find the room to be on the side of luxurious ~ it had 4 beds, a HUGE window and the cleanest floorboards I’d ever seen. It even had a study table & a chair.

“You’re bed is the one up the top here.”

Sigh…the top bunk…again!?

There was nobody else in the room. I decided to try my luck.

Me: “Uhh, can I please have the one at the bottom?”

Guy: “Uhh, yeah sure”

He smiled, closed the door and left.

I couldn’t believe how comfortable the bed was.

Just as I was about to doze off, a Turkish man entered the room.

Dammit. Just my luck. I thought I’d at least have the place to myself for a small nap.

We spoke a little bit before I passed out.

Waking up into the night

I’m pretty sure I only slept for about 20 minutes but I felt pretty good. I got up, made myself look semi-presentable and went down to the common area. It was almost dinner time. My body must’ve been crying for sleep because it didn’t take long for exhaustion to come back (and boy, did it come back with a vengeance).  Apart from resting and eating, one of the biggest priorities of the night was to extend my stay.

Me (to reception): “Can I please book another night?”

Staff: “Sorry we’re fully booked”

Me: “Oh…”

The story of my life ~ I never book more than one night in case I don’t like it…but I realised that it was so much harder to do this in Europe (decent hostels are much more scarce and the best ones are usually booked out in advance).

As soon as the staff started putting tables together, we flocked to the seats like birds to someone who throws bread on the floor. There were 12 of us. We had a mix of Swedish, English, German and American people.

This had to be the golden moment at which I found that nice connection with a group that I’d been so desperately looking for…right?

Wrong!

Everybody around me seemed much younger and I just couldn’t find a connection with anyone.

All I could hear was the typical backpacker conversations and I was too exhausted to even start a conversation at all.

To be honest, by this stage of my travels in the state of mind I was in, I couldn’t care less about “where are you from”, “are you travelling alone?”, “where have you been?”

I realised that I didn’t want to be around anyone. All I could think about was going to bed.

But I had to sit there…and talk about meaningless nonsense for at least half an hour until the wine was served. The food took a little longer and I was sorely disappointed. We had undercooked risotto with a tough and tasteless meat skewer, and even the wine was pretty shit. I was at least expecting French food.

As we all finished up and most of the girls decided to go out, one stopped to ask me:

Do you want to come?

My immediate reaction was: hell no! (but of course I didn’t say that)

There was absolutely no way I was going anywhere when I felt like I was dying.

Me: “Thanks for the invite but I’m wayyy too exhausted and desperately need sleep.”

Girl: “Oh, ok. I hope you get a good rest.”

Now that dinner was out of the way, I could finally go to bed…but not without looking for my next place first.

The hunt for my next bed

I was sad to find that the “cheapest” options to be expensive (the cheapest place available was about 40 euros…which is like $60-65 Australian). One was a private room in a hotel and the other ~ a bed in a dorm room.

In that moment that I decided to forget that I was backpacking on a budget and spoil myself in Bordeaux. I went for the private room because I deserved a treat! And why would anyone go for a shared dorm room if a private room was the same price?

Seriously.

You only live once…right?

(Deep down I think I needed to give myself a break and some TLC as well)

After watching one episode of god knows what on Netflix, I passed out like nobody’s ever passed out in this world.

When the real adventure began

The whole day was planned in my head ~ eat lunch at the recommended Michelin star restaurant, move to the hotel and enjoy my private room, and go to the hospital (you’re probably thinking WHAT!?!? So just to fill you in ~ I was paranoid I still had scabies).

The first priority was breakfast.

I searched online for “the best croissants in Bordeaux” and picked the place furthest away because walking somewhere far away would give me a nice opportunity to soak in the beauty of Bordeaux just that little bit more.

I got ready and started walking.

Again, the city was still asleep. After about 15 minutes, I started wondering:

Am I ever going to get to this place?

But I was too stubborn to change my plan and go somewhere closer.

After half an hour, I finally arrived…but sadly the patisserie ended up being so busy to the point where I felt like I had to rush everything as soon as I stepped in the door.

Server: “Bonjoir madame!” (Good morning madam)

Me: “Bonjoir! Un croissant y Madellin S’il vous plait.” (Good morning. One croissant and Madellin please).

The server quickly got each item for me, took my card and put it on the card machine. I was worried because my emergency credit card still wasn’t working in most places. But luck was on my side on this occasion.

It was time for the moment of truth…

I’d been waiting all morning for that moment ~ to have that flaky, buttery goodness melt in my mouth…

But just like the place, the croissant was unfresh☹

*sigh*

All that effort for a mediocre croissant! I should have just gone to the place around the corner!

As disappointed as I was, I had to move on and get back to the hostel for checkout. Somehow after making a small fancy cafe detour, I ended up on unfamiliar streets. I veered so far off track that when I checked Maps, it was going to take me 40 minutes to get back to the hostel from where I was.

I was startled: How on earth is it going to take me more time to walk back to the hostel then how long it took me to walk to the patisserie.

Check out was at 10. It was already 9.30.

Shit!

I had to somehow do a 40-minute walk in 30 minutes…and did NOT feel like running. The journey back seemed to take forever…and I sped-walked like no tomorrow but that franticness was worth it because I was only a few minutes late! The staff didn’t even notice because everyone was checking out at the same time.

Phew.

The only issue was that all my stuff was still in the room.

I decided to push my luck with the receptionist:

Me: “Do you mind if I quickly go to get my stuff before checking out?”

Guy: “Yeah sure”

I bolted to my room, quickly packed up my things, put them to one side on the floor and handed back the keys.

Once I properly packed away my stuff, I moved my things to the storage area and had a shower. And after the shower ~ while I was doing my makeup in the common area, a lovely girl named ‘Annie’ sat beside me and started talking to me. We instantly clicked, swapped numbers and agreed to catch up later that evening.

The evening was sorted! Now, what next ~ lunch or accommodation?

The restaurant was only 20 minutes away whereas the hotel was almost an hour away (so I made the mistake of not checking the hotel’s location. No wonder it was the same price as the hostel because the hostel was in the city centre!)

Lunch it is!

I was ever so slightly excited because I knew that this restaurant was in a beautiful building.

The restaurant

There were still a few tables available…

Waitress: “Do you want to sit inside or outside?” (the waiters could speak English here)

Me: “Outside”

I’m not going to get into the finer details…but WOW. It was definitely one of the best meals I ever had in my life and the best meal I had on the whole trip around the world. The fact that it was my first Michelin star restaurant also added to the beauty of the experience (it was expensive but WELL worth every penny).

After the meal, I sat, enjoyed the atmosphere, people watched and pondered for a good while…savoring every moment possible. But sooner or later, it was time to go…I still had to face that horrible…long commute with my heavy backpacks again.

I don’t know why but I believed that I could walk all the way to the hotel.

For one whole hour.

With my backpacks (they’re about 15-16kg).

I was a little too overly ambitious because my shoulders and legs were way too sore from carrying everything the day before. It only took 15 minutes for me to give up on walking and catch a bus. I was so glad that I did because I still had to walk quite far from the closest bus station to get to the hotel.

Put it this way, it was not a short or simple journey…

Regardless, I liked where I’d landed ~ there was a lake and lots of greenery. And barely any cars or tourists.

But from where I was, the hotel was nowhere to be seen…

And from what I could see, there was only one road.

It must’ve been the way to the hotel.

After a walking for little while down this lonesome, desolate road for a little bit, the corner of some red-ish building eventually popped out of the trees.

Was it the hotel? Was I finally here!?

I walked a faster…to discover that the building which was unveiling itself in front of my eyes was in fact the hotel which I booked. The only thing was that unlike the pretty picture on Agoda, the hotel looked more like one of a dodgy motel.

Omg…Is this really where I’m staying? What have I gotten myself into?

Deep down, I hoped that this gigantic eye saw wasn’t the right place…but it was.

Oh well – at least I have a private room. Maybe it’s not as bad as I think it will be.

The whole place was just so strange – I wasn’t even sure where the entrance was. There were two doors in front of where I was standing but it almost looked abandoned. There was nobody inside. No one at reception. Nobody in the restaurant. Just…nobody.

I don’t think I’d ever experienced rocking up to an such empty place before.

As strange as it was, all I wanted to by this point check in and drop my bags already. I went to open the door but then…couldn’t open it.

It was locked.

Huh?

Maybe I have to ring a door bell or something?

I stood there for a minute or two, scanning the entrance with my eyes for a doorbell. There was no sign of one anywhere. I was so confused…

Eventually I spotted a grey box which somewhat resembled a door bell or intercom. It had a key pad and a little green digital screen. I pressed some buttons hoping to get through to someone but nothing worked.

There was a sign right above the box which read:

“If nobody is at reception, please call XX”

Ahhh! There are my answers!

I called the number on Whatsapp. It rang through but nobody responded.

Hmmm…

I was back to where I started.

I sat on one of the chairs at the front, trying to understand what I needed to do to get in. It was truly one of those WTF moments in my life.

And then…suddenly, people walked in and out of the building…but nobody stopped to help. I didn’t bother to ask either because I assumed nobody could speak English. They all entered some codes in that grey box and could get in and out of the building with no problems.

Why was I the only person on the planet who couldn’t get in!? Where the hell was the receptionist? And what kind of hotel has nobody at reception?

My patience was beginning to wear thin. It was time to take things further.

It was time to take it up with Agoda.

“Hi, I made a reservation for P’tit Dej-Hotel for today but I’ve arrived and nobody is here and I can’t get into the building. I’ve tried calling and messaging the hotel but nobody is responding or picking up the phone.”

I was hoping that they’d cancel my reservation for me and give me a free night somewhere else. I didn’t want to stay at the hotel anymore. I wanted to be closer to the centre.

Agoda Consultant: “Oh I’m so sorry that you’re going through that experience. I will try to find a solution for you and give you a call back as soon as possible.”

Me: “How long will you take to call me back?”

Agoda Consultant: “I’m sorry there are no managers directly available at the moment so I have to try to get in contact with them and then we have to try to get in touch with the hotel to find a solution. Hopefully it will be about 30 minutes.”

Me: “Ok. I’d like to know as soon as possible because I’ve travelled quite a bit to get all the way here and I need to go the hospital today.”

Agoda Consultant: “Yes we will get back to you as soon as possible.”

This was just what I needed – to be sitting out the front of a dodgy motel-looking place in the middle of nowhere, stranded at the entrance. There was nothing I could do…except wait….but least the weather was nice.

5 minutes passed…nothing

Another 10 minutes passed…

Nada

15 minutes….

Still nothing…

And then…after 20 minutes an older lady popped out of nowhere from inside and unlocked the door.

Finally!

Me: “I tried calling you a few times and messaged you and nobody answered.”

She seemed confused.

Lady: “I didn’t receive any calls.”

I whipped out my phone and showed her.

Lady: “We don’t use Whatsapp.”

*sigh*

If only I had known…

The strange thing was though, that it did look like she did use Whatsapp because she had a Whatsapp profile picture.

The receptionist could barely speak English but did a general spiel about checking in – I understood enough…at least to make it to my room.

The hallway wreaked of cigarettes. I was too excited to finally get to my private room to care. But I must admit…I was ever so slightly anxious as well…

Going somewhere new is always like going on a Tinder date ~ you’re hoping for the best but have no idea what’s actually coming. Your only expectations are based on what you’ve seen on the internet.

A million thoughts and questions ran through my head as I walked to my room.

Is it going to be a shit hole?

The pictures on booking.com better not be deceiving!

It was the moment of truth…

I unlocked the door and pushed the door open…

The room was small and basic, but cosy. It had these cool orange curtains which warmly lit everything. I could definitely see myself having a great night’s sleep.

Yasssss!!

I finally have my own comfortable…spacious bed!

As much as I wanted to keep relaxing on the bed, I really needed to shower off all the sweat from the walk. The shower wasn’t anything special…but I was refreshed and ready to tackle the world after I came out. I went to the foyer and asked the receptionist where the hospital was. She was telling me to go to the hospital in the city centre but the one an hour away and outside the city appealed to me more because it meant I could do more walking…

Unfortunately, it was a boring and loooong walk in a residential area…

Hospital adventures

I got to the hospital safe and sound…but just like the hotel, it was the strangest hospital experience I’ve ever had in my life. Amongst this huge, multi-story building, there was nothing. No cars, and not a single person in sight. It seriously looked like it was shut down.

Was it abandoned? Where was everybody?
I thought hospitals were supposed to be busy…

I decided to try my luck and walk inside anyway…but even the lights were off inside. And every single room appeared empty…until I got to what seemed like the middle of the building. There was a reception area and actually one person that was working!

Me: “parlez vous anglais?” (do you speak English?)

Lady: “Little”

Me: “I need to see a doctor.”

She looked at me with confusion. I don’t think she understood a word I said.

I put my hand up, indicating “one moment”, whipped out trusty Google Translate, typed what I wanted to say and gave her my phone. She read everything with her undivided attention. And her face changed from confusion to delight because she finally understood what I was asking.

Using sign language, she asked if she could use my phone.

Me: “Oui!” (yes)

Her response was not what I wanted to hear:

“There is no emergency department here. You will have to go to the hospital in the city centre.”

Sigh…I really should have listened to that weird hotel-receptionist lady.

I guess I had enough time before meeting Michelle. I still had 6 hours to spare.

The walk to the centre was just as uninteresting but I got there in the end and found what I was looking for before even realising. Unlike the abandoned-looking hospital, this one looked huge, new and bustling with people. This looked more like the hospitals which I knew of…but it was so big that I could not pinpoint where the entrance could be.

I walked around for a bit, found some maybe-workers which looked like they were on a smoke break and they pointed me in the right direction of the emergency area. Everything looked so clean and modern. I was relieved to be there, especially after experiencing a couple of run-down hospitals in Brazil. I lined up to speak to reception, gave my passport and sat in the waiting area…expecting to wait up to 4 or even 5 hours. But my name was called almost straight away! It was barely even 15 minutes. I was excited to see what French hospitals were like. I followed the nurse into a room, explained my scabies situation and showed her my rashes.

Nurse: “Oh that’s nothing! I don’t think you have scabies. I’m certain it’s a heat rash.”

Me: “oh really?”

Nurse: “Well do you still want to see the doctor? You can leave now without paying or still see the doctor and pay the fee.”

Me: “Well, I might as well go. Thank you.”

Well, that took way less time than anticipated. Now what?

I still had about 5 hours before I’d go and meet Michelle. At least the hospital was quite far from the city centre.

I may as well walk and see what food I can find along the way.

On the way, I received a message from Michelle:

“Is it possible to meet at 9.30? I’m running behind schedule.”

Me: “Yeah sure, I’m just going to get something to eat and will share the location with you as soon as I find a place.”

It only made sense for me to find a bar where I could indulge in French wine ~ I had to drink wine in Bordeaux. I just had to!

When the REAL fun began

As much as I wanted to settle in a place right next to the river, I was drawn to a wine bar tucked away in an alley ever so slightly from the main road and river. From the outside it looked like nothing but a big black building with a couple of windows and tables outside. It wasn’t fancy. All I knew was that I didn’t want to be somewhere too overly busy or filled with tourists. I simply wanted peace and quiet.

The staff were very friendly.

Me: “excusez-moi monsieur parlez-vous anglais?” (Excuse me sir do you speak English?)

Bartender: “Oui! How can I help you?”

Me: “Do you have Wifi?” (probably the most common question I asked on my travels)

Bartender: “Yes. This is the password.”

I sat down and a bar-maid explained the menu to me. I settled for her recommendation and a charcuterie board (cheese and ham).

My jaw dropped to the floor as soon as I saw the board.

It was HUGE.

Me: “Wow. THAT is a lot of food! Are you sure this serving is for one person?”

Waitress: “Yes it is.”

Me: “Oh…ok.”

I sat on the street, slowly sipping my wine and sampling all the different cheeses and meats and watching the world go by…occasionally looking at my phone or making some notes. I just loved where I was sitting. It was a small table on the side of a street away from the main road. You could still see the river.

After an hour passed, the sun started to set, ever so slowly taking away the last rays of warmth of the day. It was time to move inside.

I don’t remember how, but one of the workers and I ended up chatting for a long time. He was very welcoming. I was strangely attracted to him. After talking for a bit longer, I discovered that he was the owner of the bar. His name was Peter.

It felt like we already knew each other.

We got so lost in conversation that I didn’t even realise how long I’d been waiting for Michelle when she arrived. Again, the wonderful conversation continued. All three of us ended up talking and drinking for hours.

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Delicious drinks on the house! The French really know what they’re doing when it comes to food and wine. 

It was so nice and refreshing for me because I hadn’t felt this sort of connection with anyone in what felt like forever. I was having the best time…but time was ticking. I kept checking my phone to make sure I wouldn’t miss the last tram or bus at 1AM.

When 12.45 arrived, I checked Maps again…and all of sudden, there were no buses or trams available.

What in the fuck? What was I going to do? Uber was way too expensive and I already splurged way too much in Bordeaux.

Peter: “Yeah there are no trams or buses after 12.30”

Sigh. Why didn’t he tell me?

The only solution I could think of was to walk towards the hotel and find a bike or scooter to hire…or I just walk all the way.

Michelle was convinced that she needed to catch an Uber back to the hostel for her safety but we managed to convince her to walk back.

Peter: “You should be fine. There are still many people walking around on the main road.”

I agreed to walk with her as much of the way as possible.

We said our goodbyes to Peter and made our way back to our homes, slowly walking and talking about god knows what until we had to go separate ways.

Michelle: “Well, I need to keep going this way now.”

Me: “And yeah I need to go in this direction now.”

We hugged each other goodbye and promised to message each other once we made it back.

I was back to being on my own. As beautiful as the city was, walking at 1AM there really sucked. I was walking away from the river, further and further inland. There was barely anyone around. Luckily the streets were well lit otherwise I probably would have been scared. I kept wondering how long it was going to take before I found a bike. It felt like I’d been walking forever, with not a single bike or scooter in sight. I was beginning to accept having to walk the whole way back to the hotel.

Where the hell are they? I’m sure I’ve seen them before.

The walk was beginning to take its toll. My patience was wearing thin. I just wanted to be home already. I carefully continued to follow the route on Maps and ended up in a plaza-like area. It was almost like a roundabout with some bus stops in-between. I carefully looked around to see if I could see any bikes. My fingers were crossed.

In the distance I could see something which resembled bicycles ever so slightly.

Please!!

The closer I walked, the more I realised they were exactly the bikes I was looking for!

Yes!!!

I finally found a bike!

There were a whole bunch of them stuck onto a rack. I had to enter some details in the computer at some stand.

Nope. I can’t do that because I can’t use my card

I stopped for a minute and decided to have another look around. I wasn’t ready to give up hope just yet.

After walking around for a few seconds longer, I found my hope in shining armour! A random, lonesome, bike for rent ~ not attached to any rack. It was one of those bikes that you could dump anywhere for the next person to use.

It was exactly what I needed.

Yes!!!!! Now all I need to do is unlock the bike.

The instructions were simple enough ~ download the app, enter credit card details, enter the bike ID and scan the barcode on the bike with my camera.

I couldn’t believe it. The lock on the bike unlocked itself!

Woohoo! It worked!

I tied my dress (to make it shorter so it wouldn’t get caught in the bike), hopped on and rode as fast as I could. There were literally no cars and some spots with barely any light. It even got scary at some stages because all I could see were trees and forest. I even rode in the middle of the road halfway through the ride.

The whole journey took about 40 minutes ~ can you imagine if I walked the whole way?

I made it!

My trusty little hire bike which I took all the way back to the hotel with me 🙂

After all that effort ~ I finally got to go and enjoy my private room and my enormous bed 😊 The last I remember of the night was messaging Michelle and Peter and passing out.

 

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