I like walking, dislike travel. The exception is that heady moment of departing from Sydney airport, family around me. In general, though, people who can city-hop, cover lots of bases when travelling, have my admiration but not my company.
Visiting a place as interesting as Bordeaux, I would normally stay for a week or more, without concern for places left unvisited. It’s the pressure to get on to the “other place” that makes conventional tourism difficult for me, not the popular facilities, guided tours or souvenir stalls, which are simply handy services I can take or leave.
To those who like to cover all the bases when travelling: don’t change!…
If there’s an example of successful urban planning, it must be 18th century Bordeaux. It’s spacious without being draughty, formal without pomposity. It’s also a flat city that knows how to be flat. “Human scale” may be a cliche, but what else describes the counter-balance that gives this solid, ceremonious town its chirp? Of course, Bordeaux was rich from selling wines to England, and even from being English, long before its lavish makeover in the 1700’s. All that claret bought a lot of stone. Some people love central planning on principle. I love it when it works, and in Bordeaux it works. Sainte-Catherine Street (shown higher above) is the longest pedestrian shopping strip in Europe. To be there on a Saturday afternoon is to inhale the pure spirit of bordelais commerce that is as old as the city’s first stone.
Since 2003, a tram network, though buggy and experimental, has nonetheless finished by enhancing the civil feel of the centre.