Day 5: EUROVIA visit and shopping

Friday, March 17th 2017

All about bitumen

On Friday, we visited the EUROVIA research center. We had to take both the tram and then the bus part way there. The bus was pretty similar to the tram in terms of transportation, except it was a much bumpier ride and that the police came into the bus at one stop to check whether the passengers had tickets. (We called this “the ticket raid” haha)

At this point in the trip, my feet and calves were on fire. Walking around the city for hours yesterday on top of walking at least two miles back to the hotel from Levrette two nights before were taking a toll on my ability to walk. And with my terrible luck, I had to stand during the entire 1 hour bus ride to EUROVIA. I was surely getting my share of exercise on this trip. XD

At EUROVIA, we learned a lot about bitumen–a black tar obtained naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation. It’s the material used to pave roads, airplane runways, and bridges. The discussion was heavily chemical engineering and industrial based, an area I wasn’t entirely familiar with. But I could draw its purpose and appreciate the work that goes into making it effective as possible depending on what applications it is used for. And the chemistry behind it too, of course.

Shopping in Rue Sainte Catherine

We had some free time in the afternoon, so we decided to do some much needed shopping! I was really curious about the way French people dress before I arrived in Bordeaux. I will make a list here of what I noticed was the general fashion trend in Bordeaux:

  • Scarves. Of all sizes, colors, and materials, you must have a scarf!!
  • Leather jackets (usually black or some other neutral color)
  • Ankles boots, flats, or some fashionable skate shoes
  • Double breasted coats
  • Striped shirts, blouses, or tops. They really seem to dig stripes.
  • Skinny dark washed jeans
  • A line skirts paired with tights or leggings
  • Classy, fitting accessories
  • Large purses without screaming brand logos

Overall, I find their fashion to be “très chic”. 😉 Some of the stores I went to include Mango, ZARA, and Promod. I noticed how much smaller the European sizes were in comparison to the American ones. I wanted more scarves, so I bought a blanket scarf with pastel colors. It was perfect for the chilly mornings in Bordeaux. I also purchased a striped blouse with a cute bow on the front. The lines for the fitting rooms (les cabines d’essayage) were pretty long. I grabbed two sizes since I was not familiar with my size in Europe and after I tried them on, I took the one that fit best and told the fitting room attendant “Ça marche! (“It works for me!”) And she smiled.

Another thing to mention, is that it’s really hard to find a public restroom. In France, they refer to the bathroom as literally the toilets (“les toilettes”) or WC. We went to a French McDonald’s to see if we could find a bathroom there, but it was locked and there was a numpad on the door. It seemed that you could only access the toilets if you purchased some food here and obtained a code printed on your receipt. Kind of like paid toilets, which are common in Europe. Or the only other alternative is squatting, I guess.

We were getting tired, so we got some gelato at a nearby ice cream place. I got a combination of salted caramel and nutella flavors, which was a good choice in my opinion.

Was busy shopping and then this human tree appeared out of nowhere!

Celebrating Anh’s birthday

Today was not only St.Patrick’s Day, but also my dear friend Anh’s 21st birthday! How exciting is that? For dinner, we wanted to try escargots (snails), but couldn’t find a restaurant that served them in our vicinity. Instead, we found a restaurant called L’Alysson.

Since I wanted to return the favor to my friends who bought me drinks at the bar, I got a bottle of vin rosé to share with everyone. I decided that I preferred smooth wines over the dry ones. We also shared an appetizer of cocktail shrimp and oysters. For my main course, I got some cod topped with a prawn and a side of salad and fries.


Anh’s mini birthday cake and dessert!

So from here, we were supposed to do a bar crawl in light of St.Patrick’s day. We ended up going to the good old rum bar again (Hey, I wasn’t gonna complain, I loved that place). Funny thing that happened here, I was using the toilet and then, suddenly, someone made numerous attempts to open the door for some reason?? Weird. I was grateful that I remembered to lock it! When I got out, this girl and guy were standing there and said something in French I didn’t catch. It looked like some form of apology. But it led me to have this great conversation with them. The guy was studying physics at the University of Bordeaux. And the girl told me she was born in New York actually and moved to France when she was six. So she still retained a fair amount of English. They were so excited to meet an American.

Unfortunately, my group was ready to head out. I hated to leave these new friends since we just started talking, but I wasn’t about to get stuck behind. I reluctantly waved goodbye to them, and they told me to not be a stranger next time I was in Bordeaux.


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