Thursday, 5 April 2012

Call in Burdigala

It is still dark when FRAM reaches the pier of Bordeaux, the very, very old wine and intellectual (is there a connection?) capital of France. Evidence of this settlement reaches as far back as to the 3rd century BC, and ever since there were the Celts, the Romans, the Franconians, the Goths, the Normands and - very briefly - the Maures. The main reason was without a doubt the very convenient strategic location next to the river Garonne; due to its connection to the Gironde Estuary the changing of the tides is to be felt drastically here, the water is bubbling and foaming one way in the morning, and a couple of hours later foaming and bubbling just in the opposite direction. Boats can ride whatever way with hardly any effort. Well, we are more or less independent, only the lines have to be nice and tight here at the Port de la Lune, the moon harbor, named after the crescent-shaped river bend. As we lower the gangway, we are immediately the focus of interest of the Bordelais (as they are called). No wonder, for we are parked smack in the city centre, quite a sight for sore eyes. At sunrise the ship is cleared and the two excursions can leave. Of course they have to do with wine, the most prestigious vineyards of the world await! While one party explores the city centre, ending in a wine cellar, the longer one heads out into the areas of St. Emilion and Pomérol - ending in a wine cellar. It is kind of inevitable here, and many a good bottle is brought back to the ship, from Bordeaux Supérieur to even a Chateau Margaux, a real treat for rare house guests.
But you do not have to participate in an organized tour to enjoy this city, a walk through the old quarters with their stunning architecture from romanic to baroque style is certainly worth your time. The streets are lined with cosy little cafés, and even the weather is playing game. So everybody is thoroughly enjoying the hours, and only before we leave the clouds are rolling in. Lines are being cast and we are on our way - against the current.

At night it is clearly to be seen that each crew and staff member is chosen by their ability to move elegantly on the catwalk - it's fashion show...!