Our Lisbon apartment.

Another night spent on a train.

We were a bit sad to be leaving both Portugal and our nice apartment in Lisbon. But we were all looking forward to getting back to France too.

Spanish trains have large windows in the sleeping compartments so we got some great views of wild country in Northern Portugal as the sun set. It’s nice that the boys remain excited by travel, although we had to resort to big parent voices to get them to sleep.

River in Bordeaux.

During the night we crossed to top of Spain and by 6am we were at the French border and had to change trains. We had breakfast in a little cafe near the train station – it was such a relief to be able to speak the language again. Coming back to France really felt like coming home for us.

By 7am we were on another train heading north through the French countryside to Bordeaux. The change between Portugal and France is quite distinct. Partly it’s the deeper greens of a more fertile land. Partly it’s the difference in house design. And partly it is simply that France is a richer country. We had an entire carriage to ourselves for most of the journey and watched the French world fly by while playing 500 (Jennifer and Cal won twice).

Bordeaux water plaza.

Bordeaux at first look seems like a pleasant enough city. We chose it largely based on its position, rather than because there’s anything in particular to see here. We’re staying near the river which seems to dominate the town. It’s a huge, fast-flowing, deep brown river, big enough for sea-going ships to navigate. The river-side is an enormous boulevard lined with cafes and parks and filled with people strolling, roller-blading, skateboarding and riding. Today’s a public holiday here and people were out in droves.

Plaza turns to mist.

Just down from where we’re staying is a huge plaza. We’d noticed it from the tram on the way to our apartment and made a bee-line for it after dropping our bags and dealing with groceries. The plaza is about the size of an olympic pool. At first glance it’s just a huge, flat paved area. Then water starts to bubble up through cracks between the pavers until the entire plaza is a shallow wading pool. People walked about, kids splashed and some, clearly professional, dancers danced. After a while the water drains away and is replaced by a fine spray, like a mist, fired from hidden nozzles. It’s a great way to make a big open space entertaining.