Posted in Learning, Travel

Another country, another language to fall over

Don’t know what day it is – in French, Italian or English for that matter. Ventimiglia, Italy.

What a busy few days. Quick wrap up: arrived in Paris; stayed the night; caught the train to Avignon (thanks Dad);now in Ventimiglia.

Now for some details: walked and walked and caught a petit train and walked and walked around Avignon. That was the afternoon I arrived – lost track of time, not sure when that was. The day after I arrived I walked some more, then booked a spot on a walking tour of the Popes’ Palace. There’s so much about Avignon that I didn’t know – I didn’t know the Popes lived in Avignon rather than Rome/Vatican City for around 100 years. A long time ago – starting with Clement the fifth in 1309. During part of that time there was a schism and effectively there were two popes – one in Rome and the other in Avignon.

Anyway, I was filled with information while being guided through the Popes’ Palace, and learnt heaps. Did you know that in the 19th century the military moved into the palace and many of the frescos’ faces are missing because the soldiers cut them off the walls and sold them! If you need more interesting facts, just let me know!

After walking all morning I walked back to the hotel as I had booked a tour to some villages of Provence. I’m so glad I did! After a tour of the Lavender Museum (they don’t have French lavender in France – it’s only called lavender – and it’s only grown in  Provence. All other lavender, like that in Tasmania at the lavender farm, is not real lavender apparently. Anyway, that was very interesting, and then we headed to Roussillon, which was even more interesting. It’s a beautiful town set on ochre cliffs. I put a photo of one of the houses on the Travel Photos page of this blog.

We then headed to Gordes, which is amazing. It just clings to the cliff, which means the streets are very up-and-downy as well as being narrow. Apparently, it’s an ‘in’ village and people with lots of money have bought ‘summer’ houses there. If you have a few spare million Euro, you might consider this the place to splash out on some unique real estate.

We arrived back in Avignon at about 7pm, so time for dinner, then another walk back to the hotel – this time in the dark. Lucky I knew my way by this time. I have to admit that I didn’t stay up late!!

A slowish start this morning, a chat with Tim, and then a quick walk to the Saint Benezet bridge. Another fascinating place – I’ll put a photo up in the Travel Photos page in the next couple of days – but it’s really the history that is so fascinating. Back to the hotel, pick up my bags, and a quick walk to the bus stop to catch a bus to the TGV train station.

We stopped in Marseilles and I’m really glad I took Dad’s advice and stayed in Avignon. The train travelled through one graffiti covered town/city to another, and between the buildings I had glimpses of the Mediterranean.  The Monaco – Monte Carlo train station was big and underground and looked very nice, and then you go straight into a tunnel for what seems like miles, but when you come out, you look back and see Monaco looking beautiful with lots of big boats and cruise ships anchored off shore.

Did I say Mediterranean???  I sure did! It hit me just past Nice that that deep blue stretch of water was, in fact, the Mediterranean. And then I arrived in Ventimiglia.

I am in Italy!!

And I have no idea how to speak, or even understand, the language! It’s made for some interesting ‘conversations’ so far.

I’d better learn quickly though – I’m in Italy for another week.

Posted in Travel

Thanks Dad

I was talking to Dad on Father’s Day – when I was in the very early stages of planning my trip – and asked whether he’d been to Marseilles. I’d made the rookie mistake of looking at all the big cities between Paris and Venice and thought I’d stay in them … Marseilles, Genoa, Milan.

Dad said, “Have you thought about Avignon?”. I hadn’t, but that got me thinking about all the things I’d heard about the big cities … they’re dirty, smelly, there’s a feeling that you aren’t really safe. So I took up my magnifying glass and traced the train line south from Paris, found Avignon (not too far from Marseilles), and I changed the focus of my trip. No big cities, but smaller places either side.

Have you been to Avignon? The city within the wall is old (not white Australia old, but old old) and full of narrow twisting streets. I found the Office de Tourisme and saw a poster for a photographique exhibition at the Le Musee Angladon that looked interesting. I wondered out of the office, turned right and saw a sign for the museum, so thought I’d take a look.

The photographic exhibition contained photos from the French photographer known as Nadar and are quite remarkable in their clarity, considering many were taken in the 1880s.

On the ground floor were works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Degas, Manet, Cezanne, Sisley. I love being in France!

Later in the afternoon I took a tour on the Petit Train. What tiny, tiny streets – there’s more than a morning’s walking to be had wandering along them, camera in hand. I’d best get started!

Thanks Dad for suggesting Avignon … it’s my new favourite place in France!