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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day Four, Bordeaux Unravels

7:45 a.m. came a lot faster than I anticipated. My stomach, it had seemed, was still settling from the 5 course meal the prior evening. But, like a moth to the flame, there I was, sleepy eyed and groggily staring out my front window at the energetic walkers below.
This morning, we took a guided tour of Bordeaux, learning about its history, famed monuments of the 18th century and the role of the Garonne River over the last several centuries. In a few short hours, I felt as though I’d cracked open an oyster, reveling in its pearl.
Bordeaux, at least in my mind, has made a very grand entrance on the map. If you’ve ever discovered a place not a lot of people are aware exists and feel a strange sort of kindling honor at knowing it’s there, privileged by the secret, then you may have a glimpse of what I felt today. Only, this isn’t a place that should be kept a secret, despite most people having at least heard of Bordeaux or seen its name on various wine labels.
I look forward to giving a crash course on its offerings in my final travel article, but on the more intimate, personal side of things, I must say, not only is its history in the wine industry abysmal, its past in royalty, revolution, various wars, its elaborate structures and aesthetic overhaul in the last decade is enthralling at times.
I found myself transported into another century at various intervals throughout the day, including the time we were able to wander off on our own, as our trip to Arachon fell through.
So, two press group members and I took to the streets of Bordeaux this afternoon, checking out the decorative arts museum as well as the resistance museum.
Both carried completely different energies, but inspired emotions across the spectrum in their own rites.
I also found myself engrossed in the flat stone streets and walkways beneath us. Their muted, calming colors of salmon, faded indigo, speckled gray and creams captivated me.
Not to mention the various scents that filled my nose, tickling my taste buds as we walked past several cafes, bistros, boutiques and antique shops.
Once again, I found myself shopping. I just couldn’t help it. At one point, I was drawn to a particular diamond shaped ring with an aquamarine center stone in an antique setting. I wouldn’t stop staring at it and tried to talk myself out of getting it, but succumbed to peer pressure. Carla and Marybeth, both in the press group, told me to live a little. It was only, after all, $44 Euro, which equates to the $60 mark in U.S. dollars.
So I did. I lived a little.
The evening wound down with a brief trip back to the hotel where I sadly began packing my bags … or rather, shoving as much as I could into every nook and cranky of my suitcase and duffle bag. I then decided I wanted to just roam. To have no orientation. To just be here.
I walked outside into the 50 degree weather, past the softly illuminated carousel, past the breathtaking Monument Aux Girondins and finally around to the Garonne River.
I can’t wait to explain the water mirror designed in front of the regal, majestic buildings overlooking the river near our hotel.
The feel, movement and pace of this city and its people are quite different from Paris as well, creating an interesting balance I will also elaborate on.
Our evening unraveled with dinner at a cozy restaurant called the Le Plat à Oreilles. I purposely ate half portions of the other courses just to save room for the chocolate drenched, vanilla ice-cream filled puff dessert.
But, alas, those stories are to be continued at much greater depths. It is, after all, 2:22 a.m. here and I’ve got another early morning ahead of me.
Yet … as I shake my head, staring out my window at the Grand Theatre, crowned with statues of muses and three goddesses, I find myself wishing I’d never wake from this dream.

-- Cassandra Shofar


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