Saturday, April 13, 2013

Caro's Big Adventure: Tarascon to Avignon and Uzes

We arrived at the ship in Tarascon on the afternoon of Day 1. We stayed there for the next day, allowing day trips to a choice of  either Les Baux or St-Remy. We offered such choices, my selection was often governed by the level of difficulty of the walking involved. Les Baux was in difficult terrain, so St-Remy it was. 

A great day, exploring the local area, wandering around the town, under the watchful eye of a nice local guide, and then a visit to the Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery, where Van Gogh had lived for a year as a patient in the mental asylum there. Sitting in the cloister of the old monastery, I could feel the sense of peace from many centuries of prayerful contemplation still present in the place. I commented to our guide that such a peaceful place really did make for a good venue for the care of patients with mental illness... and it would have been more successful, if only the 'treatment' modalities had been a little less inhumane.

Here are some photos of St-Remy, and the monastery where Van Gogh spent a year.

We remained in port at Tarascon that afternoon, and we were free to wander around the town at will, but I needed to pace myself, so relaxed on board. That evening I was invited to dine in the special upper class restaurant, and had a lovely meal, with far too much wine, starting with a glass of Veuve Cliquot champagne. Those waiters sure were good at topping up the wine glasses. I ended up feeling a bit squiffy by the end of the night.

That evening, we set sail for Avignon, and during dinner, I experienced my first ever European river lock. Weird (and I could see the captain still sitting and socialising in the lounge... so WHO WAS DRIVING THE SHIP??!!!!) but all was well, and we came into Avignon later in the evening, and it was spectacular by night. The captain took us under the famous Pont d'Avignon, which was also pretty special.

The next morning, still feeling the effects of jet lag, I woke at 4am, and finally managed to get back to sleep, to be awakened by my butler, the lovely Vojtech, knocking on my door with my morning coffee.  I think I groaned incoherently at him, to which he replied, "don't worry, coffee will make it better. Here, let me pour it for you."

That day, there were choices to visit the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) in Avignon, or the small town of Uzes. I'd already been to both places on my last visit to the south of France, and so thought that Uzes could do with a second visit.  Tis option also included a visit to the Pont du Gard, which I didn't get to the last time I was in the region.

The tour guide was great, and we visited parts of the city I hadn't seen last time, and had plenty of free time for shopping, and hanging out in cafes...  as one does in France. I partnered up with Jenny and Tenelle, a mother and daughter from Aust, and they were impressed by my command of French as I took charge in ordering our coffee and hot chocolate from the cafe. We also did some shopping, bought some souvenirs for friends back home, and a lovely pair of silver earrings for myself. A good friend of Mum's told me before I left that if I saw anything I wanted in m y travels, I should buy it, as I don't know when or infill ever be back in that part of the world again. The earrings marked the start of my taking her advice very seriously.

Some pics of the Pont du Gard, and Uzes.

The afternoon was spent on board, with a bit of snoozage. And drinks in the lounge... And dinner... 

So this, dear reader, takes us to the end of Day three of the cruise.

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