Monday, March 28, 2011

Flanerie, Bordeaux-style . . .

Friday evening, we strolled down Rue de Sainte Catherine, apparently the longest pedestrian street in Europe.
A lively, happy buzz of voices warmed by the street's lively acoustics, smiles everywhere thanks to the warm weather . . .
Interesting cross streets to peer down . . .
Certain charming Canadian men to watch -- oops! that's Pater, he's mine. . .
More peering -- and of course we ended up wandering the side streets later, and found a wonderful spot for dinner (I'll collect my recommended spots into a small post later)
A few blocks into Rue de Sainte Catherine, the buzz of voices began to be accompanied by something more insistent, something that became louder as we walked along, and finally drew us in to listen in front of these three musicians
In the very brief research I've done, the closest I've come to what that stringed instrument might be is a rabab, but I'm not at all sure I'm right.  The music itself is powerfully lively, toe-tappingly compelling. Middle Eastern or North African would be my guess, although the accordion/squeeze-box surprised me. But then, these traditions are often much more overlapping and adaptable than they are fixed, and my ignorance is capacious.
What I loved watching here, once the music reeled me in, was the dynamic between the players, as in the best Classical chamber music or jazz ensembles. This young fellow, already a fine musician-- what rhythms he could assert with his flying fingers, improvising wildly as he watched his stringed colleague intently. His face was a delight to watch, so openly did it express his love, not only of the music, and of performing with his musical peers, but also of the audience, especially those of us who stopped to watch appreciatively.  I don't know that the money we left in the instrument case had much to do with his joy at all -- he quite happily nodded his permission for me to take the photos . . .

I know some people who get impatient with street musicians, and I know they can occasionally be somewhat pesky (and loud!), but I generally appreciate the randomness of the cheap (free theoretically, but I can rarely pass without stopping and dropping a coin, at least) concert. What about you? Any favourite memories of wonderful busking?

Summer Already? Bordeaux . . .

 You can see how delightfully sunny it was when we arrived in Bordeaux, but you might not know from my dress how warm it was -- sadly, the possibility of 23 degree weather wasn't a possibility we packed much for.
 Pater's a bit better off, but not much (he doesn't have to wear opaque tights together with knee-high boots!)
 These school girls in their uniforms have a plan for cooling off -- love the classic (Wallace-like) water fountain. But the older girls below are dressed to take advantage of the early taste of summer. And you'll notice the crowd on la pelouse behind them -- most of them heeding the admonitions to merely repose, not play, on the grass. . .
 This very suave couple was as warmly dressed as Pater and I, but looks considerably more sophisticated.
 No sophistication here, but The Gallic Rooster on the Monument in memory of the Girondistes impresses from his perch . . .
 and the Monument's background, the Ferris Wheel, added to the festive energy of Friday's warmth. . .
 More sedate is this entrance to the Botanic Gardens (where Pater took my photo, above).
 After such a pleasant introduction to Bordeaux, we came back to the main plaza near our hotel to sit and crowd-watch while planning our evening meal . . .
 such a relaxed, expansive afternoon . . . I love the openness of this square although I wish I'd photographed more of the Grand Théatre whose steps we're standing above here, rather than the Grand Hotel opposite.
 We did pop into the Grand Théatre to see if we could purchase tickets for Sunday's ballet, but they were sold out --- so we took our photo in a mirror instead, Pater clowning a bit to descend to my height. . .
We're both rather smitten by Bordeaux, and there will be several more posts to show you why . . . meanwhile, though, we're back in our apartment where Pater's putting together a light dinner.  Time to go eat . . .

ขี่จักรยานลงมาจากยอดตึก BMX downhill Rotterdam

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Bangkok International Motor Show 2011

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Yummy Food and New Friends

 Yesterday (Sunday) was one of our favourite days in France. Blogging friend Lesley, whom we met for dinner at La Table des Assiettes on Saturday night, invited us to her home where we met her delightful children and headed out with the family on a seaside jaunt. We hiked to the top of the highest dune in Europe,  strolled along sandy beaches and noted charming local architecture, ate crêpes and gaufres in the sunshine, checked out oyster shacks, and generally enjoyed getting beyond the urban.

I have oodles of pictures for you and I'll try to post them tomorrow, perhaps trying to organize a mosaic. But as you may have noticed, there have been technical challenges, so I'll wait 'til we're back in our comfy Paris apartment. Meanwhile, check out Pater's and Lesley's dessert plates from Saturday night (I had crème brulée, not quite so photogenic.
 And here's Pater's (rather good, I'd say) photo of the new blogging friends. Thanks so much, Lesley, for making our weekend in Bordeaux so memorable.

trying again with the charcuterie . . .

I see that Blogger has had numerous reports of problems with images uploading so it's not just me -- even Eric at ParisDailyPhoto is experiencing issues with photos, and he's been doing this for many years!
I also note that, having finally shut my netbook down properly the other day, start-up brought some updating of Picasa, another potential contributor.
So I'm going to try one more fix, and use GoogleChrome instead of IExplorer . . . fingers crossed, here's the Salade Lardaise (the hotel Wifi was between 1 and 11 mbps this morning, a speed not conducive to multi photos!)