Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Avignon

The next place we stayed was Avignon, France. This was another small town encircled by medieval walls, meticulously preserved.

The train ride from Carcassonne was amazingly beautiful. Most of it was through small fishing villages on the French coast of the Mediterranean. We also went through a few larger towns that just looked amazing. It is definitely an area we want to explore more when we come back to France.

We arrived at the train station and did the usual of finding a place to stay. We found a very cheap hotel in the center of town. After we dropped the bags off we headed into town and looked around. We were rather hungry as we hadn't eaten anything since that morning so we went to one of the restaurants in the book but it was closed. We tried to find other restaurants but all the others were closed. We found out that in France, most restaurants don't open until around 7:30pm for dinner. Before this time, they prepare the tables and the staff enjoys their meal in peace.

We finally found a place in a plaza that seemed decent. We sat down to eat what we hoped was good food, but to our disappointment it was the worst meal of the trip. It started out OK, with Cocquille St Jacques, and a canned pate for our appetizers. We constantly got the three course dishes because this was the best value. Our dinner was a sad frozen salmon dish with overcooked rice, and Ellis had mediocre lamb. Ellis had a decent chocolate mousse, and Alexia's fruit salad ended up being from a can. It was disappointing to say the least. After our rather bad dinner we went back to the hotel and slept.

The room was decent for the price but somehow it became filled with cigarette smoke all through the night. Alexia, who had been fighting off a cold since Normandy, became very sick the next morning because of the smoke. That morning we decided to see what Avignon was famous for; the Papal Palace. Avignon was the home to many popes between the 14th and 17th centuries and they had a large palace in the center of town which was amazing. It was extremely large. We climbed around the outside and had some amazing views of the city and countryside. On the top of the hill there was what the popes used as a water tower. The first use of this structure was that of a small guard post from a settlement of the Stone Age. Some of it was still preserved.

After we enjoyed the views and had a good look around we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags and head to the train station. Ellis had looked up online when the train was supposed to leave so we showed up an hour early. Unfortunately, we were at the wrong station. Instead of catching a 1pm train that would last 3 hrs, we were doomed to a 3pm train that lasted 5 hrs. We needed to get to the other station, but after waiting in line for reservations we had 30 minutes left and the bus took 25. We went outside to grab a taxi but he left right before we got there. Finally, with 15 minutes before the train left, another taxi showed up. We asked him if he could get there in 10 minutes. He said of course! The train stations were not far from each other, and with a taxi driver willing to go twice the speed limit, we made it there in 6 minutes with traffic lights. We ran to the gate and boarded the train. We were on our way to Dijon.

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