I’m a huge football fan (soccer to the Americans) and my team is currently playing in the Europa League, which is a pan-European soccer championship and a pretty big deal because we haven’t played in it in almost ten years. A friend and I promised ourselves that if we made it to the Europa League, then we would go to at least one away game. We ended up deciding to go to Bordeaux, which was an idea we were not alone with… In the end 12,000 Frankfurt supporters made the trip to Bordeaux (which is over 1,000km and there is no direct plane connection). It was a real experience!
Since we would spend 12 hours driving there, we decided to make it a weekend trip (the game was Thursday) and stay for the weekend. So not only did we visit a soccer game but we also got the chance to see Bordeaux. If you haven’t been, Bordeaux is a very beautiful city that got its riches from the trades with the French colonies. It is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, not for a single building, but for the complete inner city, that is mostly still intact and from the mid—18th century. It was interesting to see a city where really the whole inner city was build in the same building style and with the same materials.
I especially fell in love with the Place de la Bourse, which holds a very large, almost castle like building structure with a large area in front of it so you have ample room to really see the buildings. But in recent years – and this is very awesome for photographers – on the other side of the train station, they added a water sculpture, which serves only one purpose: reflect the building on a very shallow layer of water!
Usually they also do this at night but since this was late November and the water was not even a centimeter high, they apparently decided to dry it up at night. So I only have an image at night without the reflection *sad*
Another really fascinating landmark was the Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux, which is the main cathedral in Bordeaux and absolutely stunning. Both outside and inside (I don’t like taking photos inside churches, but you can find some on the official website).
One interesting detail about the cathedral – which I had never seen like this before – is that the bell tower sits separately from the church itself (it was added later), so that the vibrations from the bell would not disturb the structure of the church.
Nowadays they allow visitors to the top of that bell tower, which is 231 stairs high and when you stand at the bottom you think: well, 231 stairs is not that much, no problem… Let me tell you, it becomes a problem… The staircase is inside the outer high beam on the left side in this image. so it is a spiraling staircase that, the higher you get, the narrower it becomes – and it starts out not being very wide. And since this is a bell tower, it only has one stair case, meaning while you are trying to climb up and not hold everyone else back since you cannot overtake anyone on it, there are people climbing down – and there is no room to pass on the stairs (in the upper areas the stairs were not long enough for my foot) so you have to either climb back down or back up to one of the few places where there is a small alcove set into the wall to let others pass. Of course you will usually hunker in that alcove with at least two or three other people.
But it is worth the climb (though I don’t want to do this ever again…) because the bell tower is still the highest building in all of Bordeaux so you have a beautiful surround view over the city and have also a very interesting view on top of the cathedral itself.
I have taken a whole lot more images, too many to feature in this blog post, but you can find them in the gallery I set up for the trip. All images were taken with my Fuji X20 and it really was an ideal small travel companion. I turned off the display on the back and only used the optical viewfinder so my battery lasted all weekend!