AEGEAN ODYSSEY 17th June 2018 Part 2
Bordeaux and St. Emilion
Monday 18th June 2018
Early breakfast at 7 a.m. was served on the 7th floor of the hotel, and the terrace around two of the sides of the large room ensured wonderful views over part of the city. When I went outside though I discovered it was drizzling with rain so my photographs were rather hazier than I would have liked, but at least I could see the lifting bridge in the distance. The central roadway of that was already up to allow a Tall Ship to leave the quay here in the Bordeaux city, with the tide as low as it could be.
We have to meet our guide in the hotel foyer at 8 a.m. ready to leave on our included excursion to the Saint Emilion vineyards by coach.
We crossed the road to the waiting coach when suddenly the familiar sound of three loud ship whistles was heard! The Russian Tall Ship had cast off her mooring ropes and was edging out into the River Garonne and soon after I think every craft within earshot answered her whistles with more greetings of farewell - it was a unexpectedly wonderful moment.
We also left the quayside and the coach had to join the traffic hold ups around this part of the city, caused by the closure of the lifting bridge.
We were eventually on our way to the village of Saint Emilion, and parked at the top of the steep village road; this was not immediately obvious because the land and vineyards dropped away down the side of the hill. Our guide took us into the main village street, where the cobbles were wet with the still falling rain. We visited a church and the cloisters, and then decided it was time for coffee in a small bar with a view.
We all met up again at the entrance to the vineyard office of Chateau Villemaurine and were taken straight up some steps and into the entrance of a vineyard. It was still raining slightly so this was a hurried visit but we could see rows and rows of young grapes ripening on the plants. Some rows had a red rose bush planted at one end, and this was because if the rose bush showed any signs of mildew starting, then the vines could be sprayed to deter the mildew spreading to them.
We were then taken down into the area where huge vats of grapes were starting to ferment, ready to be crushed at a later stage, and stored in barrels. Down two flights of stone steps we then entered the lower tunnels to see where the bare rock had been hewn out by men with pickaxes in previous times, for more storage. One floor up again and we could see the 2017 vintage in barrels waiting to mature, and were told that the 2016 wine was now being bottled and for sale.
The next pleasure was the wine tasting in a comfortable room with views out over the vineyards - purchases could also be made.
We had to leave this fascinating place at last and rejoin our coach in its parking space at the top of the medieval village of Saint Emilion. At last we knew were about to be on our way to the ship!
Because of all the activities in the city of Bordeaux for the last few days, the AEGEAN ODYSSEY had to be berthed at the Bordeaux-Bassens Cruise Terminal which was about 5 miles downriver, nearer the sea. We drove through the rain and finally reached an industrial area and we could see part of the ship. The coach drew up very near the gangway, a member of staff came on to greet us, he took our passports away, and we all had to sign the official health form. Finally we were allowed off the coach and could walk up the gangway to board the ship - I'm nearly there.
To be continued...