I went to Bordeaux when I was a student in France. You can tell that I was a student because I spent 16 hours on multiple trains in order to spend only about 36 hours in the city, which is a travel time to vacation time ratio only afforded by the young and that would make any adult cackle with uncontained contempt. After arriving, it was a tumultuous weekend. I had my umbrella stolen, two pairs of shoes were destroyed by the rain, and I was verbally accosted by a cassos. On the other hand, I got to sample some beautiful wines, I tried for the first time what is now my favorite French specialty, the canelé bordelais, and I simply enjoyed being in such a beautiful city.
On a different note, I would like to tell a little story. On my only night in Bordeaux, I had planned on eating at Restaurant Gabriel. However, it had started raining in the afternoon, and I found myself in a low-spirited, wishy washy mood. After finally making my way there, I hesitated just outside the entrance, internally debating whether I was really hungry, whether I wanted to spend the money, or what I would even do if I didn't go in. As I made the decision to go ahead, a couple walked through the doors right in front of me, and I soon found out that they got the last-available, unreserved table for the entire evening. Deflated, I opted to lounge in the bar area, hoping that the weather would lead to a cancellation.
My waiter, after I explained that I was trying to get a table upstairs, brought me my drink and, unexpectedly, a tray of nuts, breadsticks, and cheese. As time went by and it became increasingly apparent that things would not work out in my favor, he volunteered to ask if the kitchen could make me something small. My spirits lifted, and, to his surprise, I asked for the café gourmand. Uncertain, he promised to see what he could do, but later returned with my dish of choice. While I was happily munching away, he checked in on me once more.
When I was eventually ready leave, a different employee showed up at my table, and it was at this moment that I learned that my waiter for most of the evening had already finished his shift, and his final check with me was probably the last thing he did. They were all small gestures, but I've always regretted not being able to convey my thanks and appreciation. It may not have been much, but as a young, solo, female traveler, there aren't often times where you feel looked after, and a complete stranger caring enough to ensure that I had something to eat for dinner meant a lot. My lasting take away from this city was this: Sometimes the smallest, seemingly-insignificant moments may be the the ones that impact you the most.
Date: October 2012
Camera: Nikon D40