Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to our regularly scheduled program

Hello lovely friends!
I'm feeling a better after letting all of that off my chest. This week has been pretty boring but there has been some work and I make sure to keep busy, even if it means making things up for myself to do. Several weeks ago I cleaned out/ reorganized my apartment so I'm finishing that up this week and have added new paintings and gotten some essentials I've been putting off. All this in time for a little dinner party I'll be hosting tomorrow for some of my favorite people. I have a lot of teachers in the family who all went back to work this week and are stressed out, and I like to help out in the best way I know how: vegan Mac and "cheese"!! I'm so excited!
I have also set a goal for myself to do yoga every day because I notice such a huge difference in how I feel when I practice regularly. I decided this after a class on Saturday because even getting in 20 minutes of stretching a day makes me feel amazing. So I know this will be good for me and it gives me something to work toward. I think I'll start with ....30 days? I think that seems reasonable.

Now- back to France!
From Barcelona we made our way through the French Riviera. We took a 3 hour train to Perpignon where we spent a few hours walking around. We were able to leave our bags at the station, and though this costs some Euros, it's worth not lugging it around. Perpignon is a small town but has a nice commercial center with all the major shops, tons of bakeries, creperies, and gelato places. One thing to keep in mind when traveling in both Spain and France, however, is that everything closes between 2 and 5 pm for their lunch and resting time. Those French do know how to live well!

These bike stations are all over Europe now from what I've seen. They're all over the city so that you can pick one up when you need to go somewhere and drop it off at another location. And they only pay something ridiculous like 20 Euros a year. How awesome and eco-friendly!

Mid-afternoon, we took another train to Montpellier. We spent one night here so the first thing we did was take the train to our hotel. The train is this cute above ground system painted with all kinds of funky designs. Then we headed out to explore. There are some nice pedestrian areas with restaurants, a large park by the river, lots of monuments and one of those old stone dams on the river. And the best part was that we happened to get there on the first day of their summer festival! They had a huge open market, street vendors, free giveaways and performers!

Those were little kids at the top! My guess would be the youngest were about 5 or 6.

Here's the big bridge.

The next morning we took a train to Nimes and planned to spend a few hours there but couldn't find anywhere to drop off our luggage. But we made the best of it and quickly ran to the Colosseum and took pictures before hopping on the next train.

We arrived in Avignon soon after. It's a little bit larger of a city, and absolutely beautiful. All of the old architecture is still intact, I love how Europeans preserve their history. I think that's so important, and here in the US we tend to like bigger and newer. Shiny metal replaces brick and cobblestone.

Our first stop was the Pope's Palace. Inside is the Papal History Museum, which is what the name implies, the ENTIRE history. The place is huge and you can see everything from the lavish banquet rooms, to the kitchen and servants quarters. There's also an audio tour included that goes into detail about every last corner of the palace and every single pope. Give yourself at least 2 hours (more if you plan to listen to every audio chapter). I don't want to offend anyone, but the excesses of the old Catholic church are astounding. The history is really interesting.

The famous Pont d'Avignon! Did anyone else sing that song when they were little? I sang it in Spanish but of course the original is French. The tune brought back fond memories. There is also an audio tour for the bridge that explains how it was knocked over so many times that they didn't bother to rebuild it all the way across anymore. From there we climbed up above the Pope's Palace to some gardens for some really nice views and a very much needed cup of coffee!

We spent the night in Avignon and the next day happened to be my Birthday! It's not so exciting anymore because I feel old. Oh well, we still had my birthday morning celebration there before heading to Menton that evening for a birthday pizza dinner :)
We spent the rest of our vacation based in Menton, but more on that next time.

This concludes another jumbo post. I at least hope the pictures held your attention throughout. Hope you enjoyed them!

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