Blaye

Every time I’ve lived or studied abroad before, Bush has been president. I am overjoyed to finally have a president I can be proud of. I’ve had so many French people congratulate me on Barack Obama, it’s ridiculous. The other night, when me and another American were talking in the street, people behind us started saying “Yes we can!” What’s strange is that everyone who knows I’m from Oklahoma knew that McCain won there. Not only that, but what percentage voted for him. At least people are interested in me? The night of the election, I set my alarm in hour increments to check MSNBC and could finally sleep soundly at around 4 am. Too bad about Oklahoma’s senate race and prop. 8 in California. I guess everything won’t change over night, and I’ll take this victory for the next four years.

Here is day three of my Bordeaux trip. Me and Randall went to Blaye to see the Citadelle there. There is not much else in Blaye.

The Citadelle in Blaye.

The Citadelle in Blaye.

The bus ride to Blaye was beautiful and we passed many chateaux surrounded by vineyards. The grapes are all gone, but the leaves were changing colors and the rows of yellow and red were gorgeous. The Citadelle de Blaye is on the edge of the river and was as a defense and communication center. At least that’s what I gathered from the oddly placed and uninformative information signs. The Citadelle just became a UNESCO site this year, so I hope that they put some money into maps and information. Most of the placards were about information unrelated to the location in which they stood. However, there was no admission, and we were basically allowed to walk where ever we wanted. I imagine that that’s going to change now that it’s a UNESCO site and there will be guided tours led by 17th century soldiers.

Entrance to the Citadelle.

Entrance to the Citadelle.

I should also mention that before we went to the Citadelle we got sandwiches at this cafe that seriously had the craziest people inside. I thought I’d just stepped into the cantine of the mental institution. These two men were talking about something completely undecipherable and cackling about it. And this was the only option for food in Blaye as the bakeries closed between 11 am and 3 pm for some reason. That is a very long lunch break.

This may be the location of the tombs of Roland and Saint-Romain. Too bad no one knows or seems to care.

This may be the location of the tombs of Roland and Saint-Romain. Too bad no one knows or seems to care.

Anyone who has taken a French or world literature class has probably had to read Le Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland), the oldest work of French literature. In it, the hero Roland, Charlemagne’s nephew, is referred to as the Comte de Blaye (the Count of Blaye). Now this is where fact and fiction get fuzzy. Apparently there aren’t a lot of historical mentions of Roland, but lots of legends. This is according to most English language research I did. But most of the French language information has him concretely as a real person. Anyway, as we were walking through Blaye we saw a sign that said the tombs of Roland, Saint-Romain, and some kings were in the Basilique Saint-Romain in a direction towards the Citadelle. Yet when we walked that way, there was only a parking lot and no more signs. Moreover, no on in the town even knew where this Basilique was. You would think that having the tomb of Roland, even if he wasn’t as great of a man as in the legends, would be a big tourism draw. After much wandering and confusion, we finally decided that the above ruins must be what’s left of the Basilique. I’m going to go ahead and make that my story and say I saw the tomb of Roland. It was just so weird to have such a clear sign and then absolutely no information. But so is France.

Monument aux Girondins in Bordeaux.

Monument aux Girondins in Bordeaux.

After catching the bus back to Bordeaux, we walked around the city at night. Above is a fountain that was right by where a carnival was set up. The carnival was an odd place indeed, with several scary looking people and lots of flashing lights. I especially liked the bumper cars with the flags of the European Union attached. When we walked by, I think France, Germany, and Italy were battling in a World War II fashion.

Carnival!

Carnival!

I paid a euro for a Pomme d’Amour, which was basically an apple covered in delicious sugar, and Randall got one of the ubiquitous churros. Their fair food wasn’t quite as decadent as the food in the state fairs back home. Probably for the best. There’s only so many fried oreos and twinkies the world can handle.

Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux.

Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux.

The next morning I walked around the city a little before I caught the train back to Valence. It was a rather long train ride, which was okay because I think riding on trains and it allowed me to finish reading The Satanic Prophecies by Salman Rushide. That was definitely not a disappointing book, although it was kind of intimidating. Apparently, it’s not even his best book, but it’s so complex and detailed. I can’t imagine the amount of time and research he put into that. I should avoid reading books like that when I’m trying to write my own. Then again, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and it’s one of those books I’ve been meaning to read forever due to the controversy.

Next post will be about my day in Provence. Life is good here!

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