Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Bordeaux: City of Many Discoveries

We’ve had a full morning, and head for the hotel, and then to see if we can find the restaurant our guide recommended when we were on our walking tour. It met all our favorite criteria – it is recommended and frequented by citizens of Bordeaux, it features Bordeaux specialties, and it is unpretentious. We love this kind of place.

We had a very short walk, and we are very hungry. We find the sign and board for the restaurant, and then the hilarity begins. We can’t find the door.


We find an entrance, and are greeted and seated quickly. When we look at the menu, and look at the clientele, it doesn’t feel right.

It’s not the same menu we saw posted at La Table Bordelaise. The manager can see we are puzzled, and he assures us we are in the right place. I asked about a particular dish, and he then agreed we were meant to be next door. I think he knew all along we were looking for the other restaurant, but this was the Bordelaise GRILL, and he graciously consented to let us go.

We were embarrassed, of course, but relieved. I don’t want to waste my calories, or my Euros, on a meal I don’t want. I will pay the price of a little embarrassment to be in the right restaurant.

So we go next door, and are happy to be seated in a very crowded restaurant. What I like is that there is a wide variety of ages, from twenty-somethings, to couples older than we are.

We order, maigret de canard (duck) for my husband, who for years has said “I only eat duck in France” and a fish for me. I was delighted to see the lady next to me, very French, had ordered the same thing. I was horrified to see how elegantly, delicately and thoroughly she was able to eviscerate the fish, top and bottom, while I struggled, leaving a lot of the fish on the plate. It was delicious, topped with almonds, and crispy skin with soft flesh. It’s not like I could take the excess with me, so I relished what I could get off the bones, and had no regrets for the rest.



Somehow, I deleted the photo for my husband’s duck, but he remembers it was wonderful.


For me, this was the truly wonderful part. One of the desserts was pear ice cream. When it came, with the clear cold liquid in the tiny glass accompanying it, I knew it had to be a pear liquor. AdventureMan asked if I was going to drink it. I am diabetic. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol anymore.

“Yes,” I said, and poured it all on. There are times in life when you should be cautious, and there are times when you just need to throw caution to the wind. It was worth it. Every bite. The pear ice cream was very lovely, a sorbet, very pear-y, and the liquor was worth every second of my life I might have lost because I savored it all. Some things just make life more worth living.


My husband had the creme brûlée, below, which was actually not half eaten when it came to the table, but somehow I got so absorbed in my pear ice that I was late in taking a photo of his creme brûlée, which he determined was excellent.


Sated, and a little exhausted (big night when we farewelled the ship, big day at the market and the Aquitaine Museum) so we took the short walk back to the Grande Hotel Francaise and rested for an hour.

There are other years when we would have kept pushing, so much to see in Bordeaux. We’ve had to learn that for us, resting now and then when we need it is worth it, so we can build up our energy once again, and enjoy the rest of the day.

While resting, we heard chanting, and loud singing. Yellow jacketed strikers, making their protest in the nearby street. There were maybe fifty people, and mostly people not striking were just going on their normal course, not fazed by the protestors.

The tram lines in Bordeaux are wonderful, and new. We can get on steps away from our hotel, and go in any direction. We each have a Bordeaux City Pass, takes us on all the tram lines, bus lines and gets us in free to most of the places we want to go. We bought ours at the tourist office while we were on our walking tour. It doesn’t start until the first time you use it, and then it is good for 24 hours. You may be able to buy City Passes for longer, I don’t know. You can also buy tram cards which allow you to travel without cash for a certain amount of time, which varies depending on the card you buy.

We have a plan. We want to take the B line all the way to the end in both directions, and then maybe switch to the A or C lines. Riding the trams is fun, and you get to see parts of town that a tourist doesn’t see otherwise. I also got to see wonderful signs.


“You think your act is anonymous – but we see you!”

“A wandering/mischievous hand, one foot in prison!”

There is a mighty effort to confront sexism in France – who’d have thought, fifty years ago, this was even possible? We’ve seen some radical changes in the French culture. Women seem so much more independent and confident.

We ride the B tram all the way north and then back, but there are running signs inside the tram telling us the tram will stop running at 1830 because of the marathon. This is a BIG deal, streets closing for the runners, trams shutting down, it is amazing and wonderful to have so much support for a marathon. We remember when fitness in France was mostly limited to the military; now we see the French, male and female, embracing fitness with a vengeance. C’est merveilleuse!

We exit at St. Andre, which had been closed earlier in the day. I am a great fan of Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was married in this church – at age 13. It sounds awful, but girls from noble families expected to be married at an early age, and Eleanor was an extraordinary girl who eventually married two kings, France and England. She was aggressive and confident.

Being able to go into St. Andre’s is a thrill, and a bigger thrill at twilight, when people are quiet and respectful, and you can soak in some of the character of this church and the long history it has survived.




This is my favorite photo from the church:


There is a lot of marathon excitement going on outside St. Andre’s. It looks like some kind of staging area or some kind of water stop, or check-point, so we decide to find a place to eat and just watch the goings ons. We find the Ristorante Palazzo, salads, pizza and open air seating. It may be the end of October, but the temperatures during the day are hitting 70 F. and the night is still balmy. Every restaurant that can has seating outside tonight, so the Bordelaise can enjoy one of the last nights of dining al fresco before serious winter sets in.



Marathon set up

Fire trucks and emergency vehicles show up – and leave. Nothing much has happened in terms of the marathon, so we idle our way back to our hotel, just enjoying the lovely night. We had no idea that the French had adopted Hallowe’en, but evidence is everywhere.


I’ve always loved French clothing for children.


Outdoor dining everywhere! We could stay in Bordeaux happily for weeks.

AdventureMan spotted the scallop shell indicating this was part of the pilgrimage route to San Diego Compostela. It was fun


Porte Dijeaux takes us back to the Saracen times in Spain, with their bands of dark and light on their arches:


Our hotel, Best Western Le Grand Hotel Francais, in the very heart of Bordeaux on a very quiet street, easy walk to theatre, opera and restaurants, close to tram lines.

We had just finished brushing our teeth and were getting ready for bed when we got an unexpected thrill – the Bordeaux Midnight Marathon was running right by our hotel :-). Every single runner was cheered – we love that kind of spirit.


It went on for a long time. Longer than we stayed to photograph. We had a big day coming up and needed to get a good night’s sleep, which we did.

There were so many stores in Bordeaux, full of interesting things to buy, some very lovely, but I just didn’t feel the need to buy anything. We went into Galleries Lafayette, where I often used to buy clothes, but all the clothes were Ralph Lauren, Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger – things we can get in the USA! My preferred souvenirs are silk scarves and jewelry, clothing if I find something special that I will really wear. Other than that, we invest in experience and good food and wine, and comfortable hotels. I’m just so glad I don’t have to carry film anymore, although I do still carry a camera for better shots. We want to come back and spend more time in Bordeaux and the surrounding areas.

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Eating Out, Exercise, Faith, Food, France, Halloween, Hotels, Political Issues, Public Art, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Warning 2

(Thanks again to my Kuwaiti friend who gets all the good things and passes them to me. 🙂  )

Cabbie picks up a Nun.  She gets into the cab, and notices that the VERY handsome cab driver won’t stop staring at her.

She asks him why he is staring.

He replies: “I have a question to ask, but I don’t want to offend you”

She answers, “My son, you cannot offend me. When you’re as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything.  I’m sure that there’s nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive.”

“Well, I’ve always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me.”

She responds, “Well, let’s see what we can do about that:  #1, you have to be single and #2, you must be Catholic.”

The cab driver is very excited and says, “Yes, I’m single and Catholic!

“OK” the nun says. “Pull into the next alley.”

The nun fulfills his fantasy with a kiss that would make a hooker blush.

But when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.

“My dear child,” said the nun, “Why are you crying?”

“Forgive me but I’ve sinned.  I lied and I must confess; I’m married and I’m Jewish.”

The nun says, “That’s OK.  My name is Kevin and I’m going to a Halloween party.”


October 31, 2010 Posted by | Cultural, Halloween, Holiday, Humor | 3 Comments

Halloween Post Mortem

Hallowe’en is really more a cultural tradition these days than a religious event. We no longer worry about spirits walking around on Hallowe’en, and wear costumes to try to scare them away from us. In fact, many of the trick-or-treaters who came by our house last night were pretty! There were fairies, and little mermaids, and some very alluring witches.

In fact, there were so many trick-or-treaters that we ran out! How embarrassing! I thought I had a LOT, but there were more trick-or-treaters than we had treats.

It was a great evening, altogether, and next year I will know better.

Here is our not-scary pumpkin. I wish you could see the ears – it is an orange cat pumpkin, in honor of the Qatteri Cat.


All the visitors made the Qatteri Cat jumpy. He was happy to stay inside and hide with all the action in the streets last night.

November 1, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cross Cultural, Doha, Entertainment, Family Issues, Halloween, Living Conditions, Pets, Qatar, Qatteri Cat | Leave a comment

Halloween Baby

You won’t hear all mother-in-laws say things like this, but you’ll hear me say it, and often – we are so lucky. Our son chose a wife who is a true companion, and whose style suits our own, sometimes so much it is scary.

They are expecting a baby – and she is beginning to be “great with child”. She wrote us this morning that she won a Halloween costume contest. We knew they were toying with the concept, but the reality is hilarious. Alien!


Saturday mornings can be depressing for us, as AdventureMan heads back to his job. Not so this morning – we were dying laughing!

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Family Issues, Halloween, Humor, Marriage, Relationships | 5 Comments

Halloween and Extreme Pumpkins


All it took was one Google: pumpkins carved

It took me to Extreme, and it will give you minutes of helpless laughter. People are SO creative!

Yesterday I bought a pumpkin, not the traditional American sugar pumpkin with it’s thin skin, but a thick, ribbed Indian squash, and when I took it, the clerk said “You want the WHOLE thing??”

It’s not that big. But normally, people buying this kind of squash here buy it in pieces, not as an entire (carvable 🙂 ) pumpkin.

This is not my pumpkin; it is another from Extreme I am making cat pumpkins this year. 🙂

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Food, Halloween, Humor, Living Conditions | 5 Comments

Where to Start a Difficult Conversation?

“Mom,” my son started out, “I have some bad news.”

My heart sank. They are expecting a baby in late January. Please Lord, let this baby be OK.

He starts into a long story, which has to do with an old friend who lost a job, who is staying with them temporarily, who has been very helpful, and on and on and on; I live in a family where nuances are important, and details help understand the conclusions, but it is hard to hold your breath that long!

Then he gets to the point. While he and his wife were at work, the friend was in the house recovering from jet-lag and it started raining hard. His friend thought he heard drips in the attic, and upon exploration, they discovered a small leak in the roof. He will call the contractor we work with, but he wanted me to know.

Bad news?

“Son!” I said, laughing, “when you start a sentence with ‘I have bad news,’ it needs to be followed immediately with ‘I am OK, my wife is OK and the baby is OK’ so I don’t have a heart attack!”

We both laughed. He said “yeh, I thought about that about halfway through the explanation, but I didn’t want to break the train of thought.”

When you have bad news, get it out on the table. Start with “I have bad news, (fill in the blank.)” Then go into the background, and the proposed solutions. My son did everything right, except for the part about I was scared for him and his wife and the baby.

On the other hand, after all that build-up, I was so happy that it seemed like such a small problem, compared to the possibilities.

My husband tells a joke, the point of which is to build up gently to bad news. Not to start with “the cat is dead” but to start with “the cat was on the roof . . . ” The day came when I had to call him with some very bad news, and because I am wired to laugh in the face of the worst things that can happen (it is a sort of hysterical reaction, I have to work hard to control myself at funerals and weddings, I cry at weddings and want to laugh at funerals. The big things are just too overwhelming for me so I react inappropriately. Our family joke is that “inappropriate” is the grown-up word for “stupid”) I had a very hard time not starting off with “the cat was on the roof,” which would have been totally inappropriate but I was overwhelmed, knew I needed to let him know immediately, and you think when you get to be a grown-up you will have all the answers, but we don’t. We really don’t. Like you, we do the best we can.

What I really like was that when our son gave us the bad news, he also had a proposal for how to handle it. Wooo HOOO.

Then he told us they are planning their Halloween costumes. First, because his wife is now very visibly pregnant, they were looking for a cheap doll to take apart and glue some appendages coming out of her little basketball-tummy, but now they are looking for tentacles, a la “Alien”. LLLLOOOOLLLLL! I thought it would be the perfect occasion to wear her wedding dress, our son could wear a tuxedo and the friend could go as the angry-Papa, carrying a shotgun. Yes, we are a little weird in our family, but we have a great time.

October 28, 2009 Posted by | Biography, Building, Character, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Halloween, Living Conditions, Relationships | 11 Comments

Halloween and Your Pet

I got these reminders today from Pet Food Direct who sends the Qatteri Cat’s special diet food every month or so. These are great things to keep in mind, especially shutting your pet away when a thousand strangely dressed creatures are coming to the door!


Keep your pet in a safe, secure, and quiet area of your home during trick-or-treating. Many pets can be scared of kids dressed in costume, the constant ringing of the doorbell, or traffic in and out of the house. Keeping your pet in a secure area away from all of the action will help keep your pet relaxed and will help prevent escape. Be sure all pets are wearing collars and ID tags just in case!

Keep your pets indoors during Halloween eve and leading up to Halloween. Cats – black ones in particular – often fall victim to pranksters. Keep cats safely indoors. Visit for more information.

Try to avoid taking your dog trick-or-treating because this can be very stressful to your pet. If you do decide to take your pet out on Halloween eve, make sure they are properly restrained with a reflective collar and leash and make sure they are well supervised.

When decorating your home for Halloween, keep loose wires, open flames, decorations, and Jack-o-lanterns out of your pets’ reach. Pets are curious creatures by nature so these materials can attract their attention and potentially cause harm to them.

Keeping candy out of reach from your pet is very important, too. Chocolate can be poisonous to a dog or cat and candy wrappers can cause choking or intestinal obstruction if ingested. If you think your pet has ingested candy, call your veterinarian immediately and/or contact ASPCA poison control. Poison control charges a $60 fee, but it is well spent should your pet get into trouble. Instead of chocolate, have your pets’ favorite treats handy for them to enjoy!!!

I hope all your family members – including your pets — have a fun, safe, and happy Halloween!

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Halloween, Health Issues, Humor, Pets, Safety | 7 Comments



What happened is that two years ago I wrote a post called Halloween Warning and it got a little attention, but this year, people would Google “halloween” and then they would come to this blog entry.

It’s like how can you get all wrapped up in statistics when what happens is so random and unpredictable? On Halloween day, I got 3,172 hits. I’m a very limited blogger, I don’t have the kind of blog that attracts huge numbers – and while that may look like a huge number, it is discouraging when I know that I may never see a figure like that again.

My top all time posts are led by a picture of a birthday cake. I admit, it is a gorgeous cake, I spent a lot of time looking for just the right cake, but . . . my all time high?


There is nothing like blogging to keep you humble, and from taking yourself too seriously. :-/

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Halloween, Humor, Statistics | 7 Comments

Halloween Sunrise

Boooooooooooooooooo! Good Morning, Kuwait, and a chilly autumn Halloween morning it is:

How COOOOOOOOOL is that? Sweater weather?

The sun rose all golden and smokey looking this morning, there are strings of fishing dhows on the horizon and life is sweet:

Have a great day, Kuwait.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Halloween, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 9 Comments

Why Dogs Hate Halloween

A friend sent me a very long e-mail this morning, full of photos like these. I am only sharing these with you at the end of the work day because I don’t want your boss to hear you laughing out loud: 🙂

Can you imagine? Have they no pride, no dignity? A dog will be a good sport and will go along with just about anything. A cat will scratch your eyes out if you are even thinking about it! LLOOLL

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Halloween, Humor, Pets | | 9 Comments