Lost in Translation

Today I had a moment that was lost in cultural translation. A rather big – four mile moment.

I’m settling into my new apartment and am exploring the city. I’ve made an appointment at the bank to open a new account, visited the school campus, been downtown to run errands, etc. I’ve been walking, a lot, and have figured out the tram system.

But facilitate getting organized and getting settled – I decided on an IKEA run. (PS. Miss Mercer you got off easy and you still owe me one ;0) The local IKEA isn’t far from my new place and should in theory be easily accessible via public transportation.

However, the city is expanding one of the tram lines and adding a new stop. So the directions provided on the IKEA website weren’t valid. But the bus lines are still running and the center should be easily accessible. I love public transportation but am always leery of bus lines. In general I find them harder to navigate. It’s hard to know which stop is yours, if you are traveling in the right direction and even when the next bus will be coming. But I felt the IKEA trip was necessary – so after about 30 minutes of internet research I decided to brave it.

I set out this afternoon map, directions, large bag and backpack in tow. I easily found where I was supposed to board the bus. And the tram station with a map and a ticket machine. However, no where on that map was the bus line I needed. I double checked my instructions and my paper map. I was in the right place but still no bus. Realizing I was about halfway to IKEA already I decided to walk the rest of the way. The whole trip door to door is only about two miles. I figured I could cab it back if I bought a lot of stuff.

I easily found my way to the IKEA store…but….it was closed. Actually the entire shopping center – which also contained a Toys R Us of all things – was closed. Apparently in the typical French, well Western European fashion, Sunday is in fact a day of rest. Who knew? Apparently I am used to the Cali way – where it is rare for stores to be closed on Sundays. You occasionally see service locations – salons, cobblers, tailors – closed on Sundays but never big box stores. So when I was checking out the website for an address and directions I didn’t even bother to look at the store hours.

So after my two mile trek I found myself standing in an empty parking lot – no taxis or buses in site. And I began the trek back. At least in the process I also found the lovely Bordeaux lake park. When the weather is nice I know where I can go for water sports, picnics and time outdoors.

As I got back to my apartment I decided I would at least do one productive thing and head to the grocery store. As I have to carry everything I’ve been collecting basics in stages and I thought I would make a plan for dinner.

But again there was a breakdown in cultural translations. The grocery store closes at 1 pm on Sundays……..

1 thought on “Lost in Translation

  1. After having lived in Arizona, I stopped taking stores and restaurants open on Sunday for granted. I started to appreciate them a lot more! At least you will now remember that you have to do your shopping for the week on Friday or Saturday before a certain time. To be in Europe again…woo hoo!


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