Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Wine place: L'Autre Petit Bois

My first espresso in Bordeaux was at this place. The dark sombre interior, with a huge tree overhanging purple plush seats and couches, seems like a dark fairy abode. 

The menu is tattered newspaper booklets with the offerings taped on the inside. The lunch menu during the week is 11,50 euros, for which you get a tartine of the day, a dessert of the day, and a glass of wine. I've tried the salmon tartine, and it's pretty simple but large enough to last you for the rest of the afternoon. Being a wine bar, you have a wide selection to pick your fancy, and not just the French or European ones, either. Anyone for an Aussie or Chilean, tonight?

I've since learnt that this place is pretty famous for its wines and cocktails. The place is called the 'Other' Little Wood, since there is another, original, place, just nearby. I hear it has a slightly different vibe though. 

12 Place du Parlement
33000 Bordeaux

Monday, 15 September 2014

Smart Living Tip: Top flat hunting search sites

In any city or country I have lived in, there has always been at least one go-to site for almost everything. Before I move to a new place, I try to find out the most popular site to start my searches early on. Even before beginning the actual house searches, I limit my searches to a handful of areas, making it easier to focus without getting overwhelmed with pages of so many unfamiliar area names.
In New Zealand it's TradeMe. Every Kiwi knows about it. I have used it to buy/sell textbooks and hunt for new flatmates in my uni days, to buy secondhand toys, and even to search for job openings. In an eBay style, every buyer/seller has an account to build credibility, with comments and ratings. It's free to join, but may have small service fees when your item is sold successfully, for example.

If I were to move back to Auckland Central, my suburbs of note would be: Mt Eden, Newton, Freemans Bay.

In Australia, it's Gumtree. Not as stylish in design as TradeMe, and it's primarily a buy/sell point. I found my Melbourne menage thanks to Gumtree. One visit and pizza dinner together, and I was in love, with the house and the lovely housemates sharing it. I also looked out for a bike, but I never ended up getting one, too scared to risk my clumsy self on the Melbourne roads. 

I only had one choice of suburb in Melbourne in mind: hipster hotspot Brunwick.

In Paris, I used Facebook and the university network for the apartment and job, actually. Sometimes Craigslist came in handy, but of course, to be used with caution. I'd say all online trades should be used carefully, but when there is a language barrier and you are alone in a foreign land, it becomes doubly important. That being said, I found two incredible internships during my year in Paris online - though I ended up letting go of one of them. 

Cool places to live in Paris: le Marais, St Canal de Martin, Republique.

Again in France, I relied heavily on Le Bon Coin for my current Bordeaux abode. It did take a while longer than in most cities to get this place. I think it was mostly due to the timing, being summer when no one was here, then suddenly nearing back-to-school, with everyone trying to secure a roof over their heads. I thought of going though an agency to help me out, but in the end, decided that wasn't my style, and I stuck it out until, luckily, an ideal apartment came up. 

Advised areas in Bordeaux: Chartrons, St Pierre, Hotel de Ville.
Sometimes flat hunting takes time, and with it, patience. Don't get discouraged you don't find the perfect place on your first visit. Perhaps your expectations are too high. Central city is convenient with easy access to work and play locations, but the places may be smaller, noisier, and more expensive. Be realistic on how much you want to spend, and what that amount is going to get you. 

Perhaps even more important than the location and price of your new apartment, is who you are going to share your new space with. For me, sharing a bigger house with one or couple of housemates has always been more attractive than living alone in a tiny studio. Living alone, I found myself picking up weird habits such as reading out aloud to myself, and eating quickly, messily, unhealthily. 

Or maybe you are joining up with your other half to start a life together. That's great news, but make sure you understand that sharing a place with others means sometimes compromising, and sharing roles. Such as cleaning. I've been in both cases where I was the 'only' cleaner in the household, and also always 'never' one. Things don't end up well, in either cases. 

Your new housemate becomes your new family. Take time to do things together, like Monday movie nights, weekend brunches, grocery trips. I can't wait for my housemate to get back home from his Spanish trip, already. I'm starving!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Travel Tip: Top Five Travel Pet Hates

A random list of things that annoy me when travelling.
  • Forward passenger leans far back during a long haul flight... 
This happens pretty frequently for me, which gets really uncomfortable when trying to watch movies - the screens at the back of the seats don't swivel enough. At these moments when the seat swings back, I give a mental sigh of exasperation and wish I'd been upgraded a class. Which doesn't happen frequently enough.
  • Children 
I love children, I really do, but the cuties can turn not-so-cuties when they start crying all throughout the long flight. What I hate though, is seeing mothers do all the work, carrying the babies around, feeding them, putting them - or not - to sleep, while the dad does not budge a finger to help, but looks slightly annoyed that his daughter was interrupting his inflight movie sessions. Take the kid for a walk around the aisles, dad, calm her down. For all of us, please.
  • Snoring
Snoring doesn't bother me most of the time (my current flatmate is a occasional, but big time, snorer, for example), but I guess when you are squashed into a sitting position for hours, your cranky level goes up.
  • Low battery and no power points in sight
Especially my phone, which has the shortest battery lifespan ever, and it's not just because I use it a lot. Maybe I don't charge it probably? I've tried buying a spare battery, and am looking at portable charger option instead. I've heard pretty good things about this small external battery pack
  • Having too much luggage
Why can't I just be done with a handbag? I hate my bulky laptop sometimes. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Coffee place: Craft cafe

One of my first jobs while still at school was at an Internet cafe in town. Right next to the tourist office at the heart of Christchurch, just across the now destroyed Cathedral Church, I used to spend my holidays monitoring the PCs, helping elderly couples navigate around their email inboxes, transferring their holiday photos onto USB sticks and CDs. 

There aren't many Internet cafés around anymore. 

There is no need, when pretty much everyone has a portable screen, be it a cellphone, a tablet or a laptop. However, one does often need a power point to charge their devices, and preferably a stable table to work from. 

Craft cafe is a co working space. 

You could say it's the modern Internet cafe, minus the PCs provided for you, because they are not necessary. 

Craft cafe is in one of the hippest streets I've ever walked down in Paris. New modern and minimalist bakeries and cafés and restaurants line up this diagonally run street in the north east part of town. Craft cafe isn't the only co sharing workspace on offer, either. I spotted one just across the place. 

The cute British barista manned the counter between the rows of screen staring workers and the chattier cafe customers near the window front. Two filter coffee choices of the day, and various sweet and savoury selections were on show in front of him. 

For every hour you stay, it's 3 euros, payable with food and drinks, as you leave. I order a filter coffee, no sugars, and a berry tartlet. In exchange I get a receipt with the wifi code, those magic combinations that let you access the World Wide Web of information.

Craft cafe is clean, brightly lit, pretty quiet. I wish there were cafés like this in Bordeaux.

24 rue des Vinaigriers
75010 Paris

Monday, 8 September 2014

Paris, next time

  • Palais de Tokyo
  • Le 104
  • Catacombes

Lady Paris, I missed you

Ah, Paris. How I had missed you! How I had missed the friendships formed within your grand grey embrace. Though, I must say, I had quite forgotten how overpowering your lingering parfum of piss could be. Old and new, wafting through the streets and, oh, the metro. Packed into its rattling carriages full of sweaty fellow travellers in this hot muggy weather was something I had refused to remember. 

Three years is a long time, Lady Paris. And three days is not enough time to relive the crazy memories all these years ago. 

The angel who had saved my lost self during my first week of the exchange year, had saved my life again. She had led me safely back home after a late night out exploring the as yet foreign city, then. Remember? Vélib-ing through the freezing cold night air! for the first and last time that year. She welcomed me into her abode on the other side of the snail maze, this time, with the sparkling Eiffel Tower straight out the window and Sacre Coeur to the right. But she was not alone. A bump, a unmistakable bump, has been slowly growing inside her for the past five months. Quelle surprise !

Three years really is a long time, Lady Paris. Friends become partners and then not even friends anymore; friends find jobs and change jobs and then quit those jobs, too. Three years ago I made friends at a house party and we are only just asking each other how we got to be there. How funny. Three years later we drink and dance, just like on our first night out, but we are not strangers anymore. 

Lady Paris, I had grown within you but I have grown even more after I had left. But it's good to see that even within the familiar folds of your city there are also many changes. Many a places I would like to visit and explore, if I had had more time. Three days really isn't enough. So I'll be back soon, but until then, bisous, et à bientôt !

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Frozen in pain

I think I'm breathing too hard. I'm typing too loudly. Trying to ignore it with loud music connected to each ear, because the music helps me to not think too much about the excruciatingly painful lower back pain today. It started about a month ago, lifting a heavy luggage on a very chilly evening, and while visits to the chiropractor's had been miraculous, I haven't been able to continue for long enough, and so here it is back again. It hurts too move. I'm crippled. Exercise actually made it worse, so what am I to do? Does anyone know a good chiro/osteo in Bordeaux? Aiiie..