Up at 8:00am and still no Twitter this morning. Had to download Twitter for Blackberry as UberTwitter is not allied in Switzerland. More strawberries, croissants and coffee for petite dejuener.
It is very hazy over lake Geneva but the old city looks pretty shrouded in the mist, church spires rising like medieval warrior pikes, piercing the fog. Packed for our two day sojourn to the South of France. So excited to be going. Mists and haze most of the way so could not see the Alps as we drove but did see the pastoral French countryside.
Mostly the highway sadly goes through industrial areas. Stopped at a rest area and was horrified by the “hole-in-the-ground” toilette. Thankfully there was a handicap stall with a semi normal toilette. It alarmingly starts flushing the second you get in the stall. European bathroom experiences are always good for a laugh, usually later, after the trauma wears off!
We made it to Avignon and went into the ancient walled city. What a gorgeous place. Very medieval. Took tons of photos. We immediately went to the village plaza where the Palais des Papes (palace of the Popes) faced lovely little cafes.
We chose one and ate out in the sunshine. I had beef burgeon, apricot coucous, and lemon pudding crumble sort of thing that eventually I will be sorry I ate but enjoyed every morsel.
We then went on the self guided palace tour complete with english handheld interpreters. The most amazing rooms within and fantastic views from the ramparts on the top. So very old. Mostly 13th century.
Leaving the ancient city walls, we strode on through the more “modern” part of the city lined with plazas, shops, cafes, pâtisseries, and the requisite Merry-go-Round. I found the fashion shops like a heat seeking missile, determined to buy only French designs. The tiny streets and venerable facades left the mark of Old French charm on my heart that I will never forget. Even the city hall was busy with French Brides lined up, in full bridal regalia, on the steps waiting their turns to “tie-the-knot” with their prospective grooms.
We continued on to Arles, the ancient Roman city with a coliseum from the first Century. With still no place to stay I suggested a hotel as we wandered the tiny streets in the gathering darkness.
We took our luggage upstairs in complete darkness as we didn’t know how to work the hall lights. But nothing prepared us for the room. It was like the interior of a freezing cold castle. High, hideous green walls with a deep red brocade curtains, we later learned, covered the radiator. There was a separate bedroom alcove for us and a small daybed in the main room. The bathroom seemed fair but dubious with a complete lack of shower curtain on the old clawfoot tub. I didn’t want to stay but it was already paid for, so there was nothing to do but stick it out. We went on to supper at the recommendation of our host, bad choice. Supposedly Italian and provincial cooking, it was actually more a pizza place than anything. I had a salad and an apple cake. We stumbled on an art exhibit for Bull Fighters in an ancient church vestibule, that in my tired state seemed oddly out of place, but hey, this is Europe. We then went back to the castle dungeon room and tried to sleep. It was too cold really and worrisome because of the darkness and fear of castle rats (which of course there were none). I woke at 3:00am and had a difficult time getting back to sleep.
The morning brought the revelation of the radiator, a window so high you would have to be the Giant from Jack in the Beanstalk to see out, and a peek into a tiny courtyard that also peeked into the kitchens, busy with the breakfast breads being layed upon a board. It which was extremely reminiscent of something out of an historical novel (sounds safely charming from the comfort of a sofa and a crackling fire). Upon leaving the city of Arles, the sun pierced sharply through the chill morning and gave us a fresh glimpse of Spring only a breath away.