Sunday, July 25, 2010

Provence (7/21-7/22)

July 21: Arles

Got into Avignon late on the 20th after another long travel day - been having trouble booking high-speed rail. Barcelona to Carbere to Perpignon to Narbonne to Nimes to Avignon. Nothing available (unsuprisingly), so moved on the Arles and found a nice place on Plaza Voltaire.

Anyway Arles is a nice little town with a whole mess of Roman ruins. Doesn't quite look like how Van Gogh saw it any more:

Swung through the Wednesday morning market:

Then went over to the Ancient history museum for an overview of the artifacts and structures as they were 2000 years ago. Then off to see the Theatre and the Amphitheatre:

Stopped by the Reattu museum (bought the museum pass), but was largely underwhelmed - I'm TRYING to appreciate the modern period, but the signal to noise ratio is not so great.

Bonus fact:
- Some girl soliciting donations for a charity repeatedly poked me with her pen when I politely declined to donate. Fortunately, she gave up about 2 seconds before I slapped her.

Arles photo album

July 22: Avignon

Woo - long day. Took the bus into Avignon in the morning and saw the Papal palace and the old medieval bridge.

Sur le Pont d'Avignon...
The terrace and the big halls in the Papal Palace are kinda cool, but the entrance few is a little steep when the interior's been repeatedly gutted and redone over the past 3-4 centuries (most recent practical usage - Napoleonic barracks). There's a few small murals left, but it's largely barren.

I wanted to go to Pont du Gard to see the aqueduct, but the bus schedule is erratic and would leave me there for 5 hours. So, I thought, "I can bike it! The guide says it's 13 miles away, no problem!". Tourism office informs me the practical (albiet interesting) route for cycling is more like 70 kms. So after ~3 hours walking briskly about town, I decided to use my remaining 5 hours of available time (until the bike shop closed) to bike out and back.

The way out was great - some scattered downpours of rain (of course - second day of rain on the whole trip and it's when I'm biking 70 kms), but made great time to the aqueduct. The way back was another story - first ~10 kms was up and down hills (emphasis on the up), and my legs started to give out (yeah, haven't been biking much lately). Ugh. It got to where I was unable to sustain climbs and was inching my way uphill in short bursts. Finally got the point where I had no energy, 20-25 kms to go in less than an hour, and a series of unsuccessful attempts to hitchhike.

But! Shortly thereafter I crested the last hill - long gentle downhill slope for over 10 kms. Salvation! I cruised down (thankfully I shelled out for a good bike) and my legs managed to recover enough to keep me over 30 kms/hr for the final stretch. Got the bike back to the shop with 5 minutes to spare. Whew!

Avignon photo album

No comments:

Post a Comment