It’s been a bit difficult to get our posts to actually show up online when they are ready, as the Internet service here on the ship is fed by a Satellite feed. Because of the delay (or latency for all my ex phone industry friends) inherent in sending the signal from space to us it really hangs up when it tries to transmit our pictures. For yesterday’s post it failed several times before I gave up and waited until morning and used the cell service we purchased for just such a scenario. I might have to limit our pictures for a bit if this continues.
While yesterday’s excursions surrounded ancient Roman history and the comings and goings of Vincent van Gogh (which by the way is not pronounced Go like we’re used to in North America, but more like Kockh which really sounds like you are clearing your throat) today’s outing surrounded the adventures of the Catholic popes who were exiled to this community in the 1300’s. At that time this whole district was under the influence of the Genoa city power brokers who wanted to control the church so they moved them here out of harms way.
Our day started out with a walking tour of Avignon and we really enjoyed it. It is a much smaller and less congested city than Nice, but contains the same type of narrow streets, sidewalk cafes and marketplaces. The local produce market was absolutely special. Then we toured the Papal Palace built by a couple of different popes over 17 years in the early 1300’s. It is an imposing building, built to impress upon the rest of the world that this was where the power was. One of the Popes was a more practical type and built a simple building with few windows and fewer flourises. The next Pope added a wing with grand arches and sculptures built into the walls.
Since the Popes left and went back to Rome, the building has been used as a military barracks, local housing, and even a prison. Much of the original sculpture and artwork was desecrated during the French Revolution, and a number of Frescoes were covered in Whitewash during the military occupation. At least those could be recovered more easily than those destroyed when the army decided they needed to install more fireplaces in the walls.
In the afternoon there was an optional tour to Chateauneuf de Pape to check out their vineyards that we decided to pass on. We spent the afternoon sitting on the front deck as we travelled up the river, chatting with new friends, and spotting castles and churches wherever we looked.
It was another great day, and while we were chatting the crew on the ship fed us the French Version of High Tea. The food was much the same as the British version with strawberries and cream sitting side by side with cucumber sandwiches. The tea was a bit different though, as they were more than willing to pour Cognac or Brandy into your cup if you so desired.
Not long after it was time for dinner, followed by a cheese tasting event. I may never fit into my pants again.
Tomorrow will start out quieter, as we will be sailing the morning away, so we can sleep in for a change. We’ll let you know if we actually get a chance to do that.