Edit Blog Post
Published: July 18th 2015
So sorry I am so late with this post, what an intense last week and a half! I have been ridiculously busy, as I will explain in installations. First, the weekend just following my last post: What a successful Sunday! Hailey and I lazily rolled out of bed Sunday morning excited to have our daily delicious pastry only to remember that basically NOTHING is open on Sunday’s in France (it actually costs owners a fee to be open). We managed to get into the city center of Avignon running on some green tea as fuel and found a tiny little bakery with the best croissants we have had yet, which is saying something! He pulled them out of the oven while we were there and they were flakey and buttery on the outside and soft and warm on the inside… mmmmmm
Shockingly this wasn’t even the reason we were in the city center, we came for a show! As we discovered Saturday evening, a dance group that incorporates many styles but is predominantly a hip-hop group is performing at noon throughout the festival, and we decided to go see them. They were FANTASTIC, it was a very dynamic combination of
hip-hop and other dance styles that were blended excellently. The whole performance also had a sort of story/theme about breaking free from the social constraints of what is expected. Beautiful.
After the show we drove towards the Chataeu du Tarascon, which was our planned visit for the day, but got distracted along the way by some ruins on a hill near the road above a quaint, narrow cobblestone road filled village. We climbed about a little looking around and enjoying the gorgeous views, and though we couldn’t find a way into the upper part of the ruin, it was a sight to behold.
After this lovely pause, we drove on and found the very well preserved Chateau du Tarascon just opening and empty. We paid only 5 euro for free rein of the almost entirely empty castle and handy English guide pamphlets. We climbed all through the low doors and up the narrow spiral staircases in the towers, hearing nothing but our own footsteps. The view of the Rhone from the roof was magnificent and also enabled us to notice another Castle across the river. We asked the young woman who let us in about it and learned
it was open to walk around in. We hoped back in the car and managed to squeeze a third castle tour into our Sunday.
As if that were not enough to do, we were set on going to the beach that evening. We drove about an hour through an area known as Camargue to get to the beach and it was a good choice. The area is mostly flatland marshes and there are white horses all over that are supposedly native to the region and a common feature. Additionally, the marshland is excellent bird habitat and, much to my shock, there are large flocks of flamingos close to the beach! They are not the bright pink of your average lawn decoration, but they are still very cool birds. We saw a number of other interesting water fowl which unfortunately I had no ability to identify (except for the swan!) on the long narrow road out to the beach, and what perfect weather! The beach itself was miles long with tame Mediterranean waves and refreshing temperatures. We swam for about an hour before reluctantly finishing our delicious road stand plumbs and apricots and heading home. All in all, an excellent
Sunday was had.
Monday, the real adventure began as we set out on our Hungary collection trip. The first day was all driving to get to the Italy-Slovenia border. You might expect this to be uneventful, just a long drive… But you would be so wrong. We made it to the Azure coast without a hitch and then thought we would stop in Nice, which sounds like such a nice place, to refuel, use the restroom, and get a snack. This was a poor choice. Nice was full of traffic, construction, and gas stations that had no bathrooms. By the time we decide it is not worth trying a third gas station in Nice and begin the journey back to the highway in hopes of a rest station, Hailey and I both desperately need to pee. This feels like an appropriate time to mention that the GPS given to us by the rental company was HORRIBLE. Often it would not understand where we were at all, and any time we took a turn it would recalculate, therefore making any quick subsequent turns impossible to see. This, as you can imagine, renders it almost completely useless in cities.
It is also one of the most frustrating experiences to try and drive in a European city when the GPS continually changes it’s mind or simply doesn’t say which way to go at forks. Both Hailey and I would have derived great pleasure from smashing the device in to millions of tiny pieces. The GPS takes us on a lovely little tour of the streets surrounding the highway and when we finally manage to get back on we drive only about a kilometer before we are met with brake lights. Traffic. Terrible traffic. We laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation, but not much, because it causes pain in our swollen bladders. We sit in this traffic for probably about a half hour before coming to a toll. Tolls are very common on European highways, and they are particularly common and strange on the azure coast. In most places the tolls were very simple, just sick in a credit card, it spits out a receipt, and off you are. Not so at this toll. For no apparent reason the machine would not accept my credit card, my debit card, or Haileys card. The machine has a place for coins, but
no place for bills. We were short 40 cents in coins. This is a rental car and we are not European, we don’t just have coins kicking about. We simply did not have 40 more cents. We rang the help button with the british flag that typically indicates the operator will have at least some small amount of English, and get a French operator. “angle?” I ask desperately, “No, francé” she responds in a bored manner. I continue in English anyways as I don't speak French and basically repeat “I don’t know what to do,” and “we have bills, but no way to pay!” and “sorry!” She says in French we need 40 cents and hangs up. We scramble around desperately and fruitlessly for 40 cents and call back. Again the operator says we need 40 cents and again we frantically explain we don’t have it. Keep in mind we sat in traffic to get to this toll, so in addition to being on the verge of peeing our pants, we have a long line of angry French drivers honking behind us. Suddenly our operator decides 40 cents is not worth the trouble and opens the gate, but does not
turn off the alarms, which all go off when we drive through. I, being convinced we are now fugitives of the French law, promptly pull over to give them a 5 euro bill to cover our 40 cents. Amazingly, the parking lot has a bathroom adjacent and the worst of our problems could be immediately dealt with. After this finding to the entrance to the office, which is in what appeared to be a semi deserted building proved to be another challenge, and when we finally found someone to talk to, they basically said, “oh whatever, its fine, don’t worry about it…” Glad it didn’t put them out.
Tot: 3.68s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 8; qc: 57; dbt: 0.0388s; 3; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb