Travels

Damp Bordeaux

Posted

Saturday 21 June 2019

A day dampened by frequent light showers did little to show Bordeaux at its best. It was gallery weather.

As I walked into town I was thinking about the Italian’s role in the war. I’d found out the submarine pens I’m parked by were built by Italy, not Germany and realised I knew nothing about the country’s role in the war.

In short, after France surrendered, fascist Mussolini threw in his lot with fascist Hitler. Italy took the conflict to the Mediterranean – Yugoslavia, Greece, North Africa – believing Germany had Northern Europe covered. It was also given a sector of the Atlantic off Portugal to patrol, hence the submarine base in Bordeaux.

Once the Americans and Russia entered the war, resources were stretched and the Mediterranean bit back. In July 1943, after the allied invasion of Sicily, Italian territories overseas fell under German control and Italy capitulated and, in part, joined the allies.

The submarine base was bombed on a number of occasions but was built to withstand it – the reason it still stands today; it’s too big a job to dismantle. It’s occasionally used for events.

The base was was taken over by the Germans after the Italian surrender and seized by the Americans in September 1944, so now I know!

The contemporary art gallery was an old commercial centre,

with about six exhibitions over three floors.

After an enjoyable couple of hours I crossed the city in search of a Lebara SIM card as I’m getting close to the two months limit on roaming without using the phone in the home country. Regardless of how long the tour lasts, I shall be returning to France so won’t have the same problem, and Lebara was good last year. It’s also cheaper and with more data than my UK sim.

Mission accomplished, I wandered the city some more. There is a riverside festival on the muddy brown Garonne this weekend and a couple of the world’s biggest sailing ships have stopped by.

Not great weather to show off the city,

not helped by the festival fences everywhere, but there was this nice anti-slavery statue.

Saturday is sunny. I shall explore some more, get some better pictures, and catch the light show and fireworks tonight.

Word is there is a serious heatwave about to hit in the next couple of days, with temperatures nudging forty. Last summer was hot enough in the north of Europe (it caused the mastic sealant to melt in the joints of Big Al’s bodywork) but I’m headed ever south! It’s going to get sweaty.

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