Saturday, October 01, 2005

Sur le pont d'Avignon....

Well, I'm not exactly dancing having acquired some form of malade. Damittohell. Not a BIG malade, just une petite but enough to take the smile off my face and the joy out of food and there is a lot of food to have the joy taken out of. Suffice to say that The Tour is cleaning up on my food costs.

But enough about moi and my guts.... Where have we been, you ask? Well, "on the bus" will do for one answer and what an experience that has been. First bus was fine even though it was about a 40 passenger one for all 24 of us. Max-the-driver was very good and he hauled us around some corners through the Gorges du Verdon that would have made me green on the back of the bike but (thank you, SeaBands) which I weathered pas de probleme. The motorcyclist who met us on the blind corner probably needed to change his knickers and his lady on the back definitely did. Sorry, I didn't get the make of the bike or the year.

We spent the night in Aiguine, pop 168 before the bus arrived. Its people make up one of the many, many small villages that have been honoured for leur resistance et leur silence during WW II. Our guide said that the trails through the Gorges were used as a conduit to move people once the Nazis moved in. We have seen memorials for the dead of both WW in all the villages we have been in but the ones for the Second War list not only war casualties but also those who were deportee. It brings the reality of such a short time ago back into sharp focus. The numbers from the First War are simply boggling: 80% of the young men of France died.

From Aiguine, we drove to Rousillon and my old nemesis Bus Sick came back with a vengeance. Not even SeaBands were helping and what should have been a 90 minute trip became almost 2.5 hours with stops for "fresh air" Truth to tell, I wasn't the only one but I was the voice the driver recognized!!! Roussillon is a beautiful town on a hill of ochre (the sign in the bathroom said to please not use the towels to clean ochre from shoes). The light is warm and full and the shutters of blue-grey lavender are the perfect contrast to all the reds and oranges and yellows. I spent most of that day sleeping off the bus and the evening prowling about the silent streets with E. Cats abound and are quite willing to be approached as long as it is in French: Bon jour ou Bon soir seems to work. Dogs also abound and often off-leash but exceptionally well-behaved. Malheuresement, their owners are not so well-behaved so any walking is done with head down against the copious amts of dogshit. I'm sure there are fantastic sights I have completely missed in an effort to keep my shoes clean!!

In Roussillon, I did my finances to discover that somehow I hadn't spent anywhere near as much as I thought I had. This was a bad thing to figure out especially right before a quick walk in the local market which landed me up in front of a shawl lady who, when she found out we were Canadians, dropped the French in favour of her native Glaswegian!! Was not really that much easier to understand but I did end up with a lovely silk shawl and E with a lovely woolen one. And then, it was on to Isle sur la Sorgue for another market but this one was food so we did the potluck picnic and ate amazingly in a park beside the river.

Last night and the night before we were in Vaison la Romaine after an afternoon in Orange. First about Orange: I have the postcards to prove it but it still requires a huge space of silence to appreciate that everywhere the Romans went, they built theatres (we all know what they look like, right) WITH an enormous back wall (there are only 3 still in existence and one is in Orange). For a variety of reasons, the back wall wasn't torn down (thank you, mistral wind) and reused as some C18th patio. There is a lot of renovation going on on the site and parts were covered with scaffolding which was covered with workers yelling at one another and handing tools up and down. If they had been a bit more stripped down and the scaffolding had not been metal, it could have been C1st or 2nd!!

Vaison la Romaine is small and we stayed in the charming Hotel Beffroi. E and I decided that there is unlikely to be anything like it in NA. First of all, it was built about 400 years ago and, given the narrowness of hallways, tightness of stairways and general unlevelness of the floors, WCB wasn't going to be very happy with them!! We, on the other hand, were delighted! The rooms were all different and cozy in their own special ways.

More Roman ruins in Vaison and an excellent guide through them. I am assuming that you who are passionately interested will be googling these places and the rest of you will be taking naps! When my stomach settles down, I will try to do justice to some of the food we have had. Last night's dinner was memorable for quality, presentation and length but it will have to wait 'til my back teeth stop clenching...

For those of you wondering about Himself: he is (or should be) in Libya by today having had a good trip through Tunisia. He has even had a swim in the Mediterranean from the other side. They had a torrential downpour a couple of nights ago: guess the Rain Gods couldn't ignore that many Brits in one place. With the beginning of Ramadan in a couple of days, their trip could become a bit more "interesting" as most things are closed during the day. Stay tuned for late-breaking reports!!

And that's the end of today's time. Sorry it's reading more of a travelogue and less of adventure. Will try to get back into myself in the next day or so.

Au revoir et a bientot......


Blogger julia said...

May the malade begone by tomorrow. And don't give to E!!!

Blessings to you both.

3:26 p.m.  

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