Saturday, May 31, 2014

Boarding the Boat at Avignon

Four Australians, 4 Americans, 2 Brits, 4 Canadians (including us) and a family of 4 from Sweden (mom, dad, 13 yr old girl, 10 yr old boy) – those are the passengers that boarded the boat yesterday.  Two Italians, one Dutch-Italian, two Dutch and one that we think is Austrialian – the crew of our little boat.  Among the cyclists are several retired teachers (quelle surprise!) and except for the Swedish family, most would be in our age category and from what we can tell about our level of cycling.

Avignon is often called the city of Popes since during the 1300s 7 different popes lived here. And of course, during that time they had to construct the Palais des Papes - an impressive gothic structure that we toured when we got here.  As well, at this time of year they always have a Rose Festival. And to celebrate their 10th anniversary they made a rose cake!

We had a few hours to kill today in Avignon before we boarded the boat but after that things started to get rolling.  Our 3 course dinner was served at 7:00 followed by our cycling instructions for tomorrow.  Cycling begins at 8:50 in the morning as we head for Chateauneuf-de-pape. This city was another residence for the pope – although it’s now known for its delicious red wines which we get to sample tomorrow.  Eat your heart out Ross!
The cabins and facilities on board so far are quite acceptable - shower is hot with good pressure and there is plenty of room to stow our luggage.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Marseille

Marj and I rolled into Marseille yesterday and after grabbing a bus from the airport to the main train station (where it took us a while to find an exit door) we eventually made it to our hotel. Marseille is the 2nd largest city in France after Paris and unfortunately is nothing like Paris. The buildings, although they seem of the same vintage as Paris, all look they could use a good scrubbing. The ornate filigree is offset by a bit of grubbiness and we both agreed the entire city is kind of like that.

The main touristy area is the Vieux Port, a very wide walkway bordering the water on 3 sides, which has a 'mirror covered' market (photo below) - the market last night was for ceramics and since it was a holiday (Ascension) it was quite busy. For dinner we had to try the Marseille specialty - bouillabaisse (fish soup) - delicious.


We both woke up relatively early and since we didn't have to be in Avignon until later in the day we decided to take a tour on the Hop-on-hop-off bus.  This led us to the 2nd touristy spot in Marseille - the Notre Dame du Gard - a church high on the hill that you can see in the background of this photo.

Along the water, the fisherman had set up tables to sell their catch - some tuna, octopus, eel-looking creatures, snails, etc - some of it still flopping about.

We figured we'd seen the best Marseilles had to offer and, after much deliberation/translation, found the train to Avignon.  We don't board the boat until late tomorrow so we have time to do more exploring in the morning. We haven't made it sur le pont d'Avignon yet - dance to follow.

Exploring Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) proved to be quite a contrast to my recent trip to Croatia. The number of touris...