PROVENCE!

July 1-2

After we departed Bordeaux, we headed to my favorite place in the world (except for my cabin, of course), PROVENCE! Yes, it may be a little excessive to be going to the same place three times before you even turn 20, but southern France is so perfect, of course I had to go back.

After the 5 hour train ride, we eventually made it to our hotel in Avignon after a bus ride and a struggle to carry our luggage down the street. I mean, our hotel wasn’t that bad…just smelled a little bit. At least we had a nice balcony to look off of. Of course, us Americans hated the fact we could only get wifi downstairs so we would make frequent trips to go on the Internet. PS: WiFi is pronounced “Wee-Fee” in French. Just say it out loud. It’s funny.

Avignon is a city completely surrounded by a fortress wall that has been there for ages. So of course, I felt like some medieval princess. Okay probably more like a medieval peasant…According to Bianca that’s what I would be back in the middle ages. We first headed off to see the Pope’s Palace, aka where 13 (I believe) different popes used to live. Yeah, I have seen this palace three times…but it’s okay. We splurged on getting the audio guide for 2 euros, but actually the history nerd in me loved all the information about the palace. For one, it has been rebuilt and added onto so many times, depending on the pope’s preferences (or damage from war). Inside of the courtyard, they had it all set up for concerts, since their festival was coming up that week (unfortunately we missed it!) After we headed to the bridge near the palace, which is famous because it used to stretch many more miles than it now does for transportation. Basically, Bianca and I just sat at the end of it because we were tired and decided to throw rocks and sing on it. That works too.

After we may or may not have spent way too much money on pizza and crème brulee. At a restaurant with the slowest service I’ve ever witnessed. Good thing in France it’s not really customary to tip because that waiter wasn’t going to get any of my money. Apparently, waiters there aren’t exactly like back in the states. PS: Crème brulee may be the best thing I’ve ever have eaten ever. Of course, us old farts went back to the hotel and slept instead of doing anything else after that.

The next day, we had booked a “Grand Tour of Provence”, aka it was an all day tour in a mini-bus with just 5 other people and a private tour guide. We basically went all over Provence, and luckily to only one place I’ve already been to. So this blog may or may not be very long.

We first took a five minute stop at the first of many “view point” places. AKA: 1000’s of pictures of us in front of beautiful scenery. And yes, I will be posting these all on FaceBook, I’m sorry. All you could see for miles was vineyards. Vineyards. Oh yeah, and more vineyards. And of course, the random lavendine field.

Our first real stop was wine tasting! Yes, again. This time, the winery, Ogier, was much larger than in Bordeaux and you could easily tell it had more of a corporate feel than the first winery we went to. We learned about four different soils that different grapes can grow in, each producing its own unique flavor because of the difference in the density of soil. Also, farmers plant rose bushes by vineyards to see if the vines have diseases or not because if the rose has a disease, the vines will too. And again we relearned the process of how to make wine….may or may not be an expert now. They have super large containers of wine. We first started off seeing small barrels, to bigger barrels, to even bigger barrels, to the biggest of them all. The second largest barrel costs 20,000 dollars…and no I don’t’ mean with the wine in it. I’m talking about just the barrel. Our tour guide wasn’t even sure how much the largest barrels cost. Of course, after we tasted four different kinds of wine. Which Bianca ended up chugging her wine…typical college student. All the adults (okay, older people I guess we are adults…) on our tour were impressed, I’d say. Also, we claimed it was 5 o’clock somewhere (even though it was 10 in the morning…) and the Australian couple said, yeah it is in Australia! I may or may not have gotten buzzed off the wine at 10 a.m. It happens.

We then headed to the town of Orange, which had an old roman arch and an old roman theatre. Fun fact of the day: apparently, a French noble wanted to have orange carrots to make his dinner table more bright, so they inbred red and white carrots to create the now popular orange carrots. I still don’t know if our tour guide was BSing us on that one or not. PS: Technically the Marcus Amphitheatre is not actually an amphitheater, because it’s only one arch. An amphitheater goes all the way around. You’ve lied to me, Milwaukee, lied. Anyways, the old theatre was amazing. It’s been standing for thousands of years, even though many changes have been made to it. At one point, over 40 houses were even built inside of the theatre when the church ruled that plays were against Christian beliefs.

After, we took an hour drive (on which I passed out) to our next town, a small village in the mountains. This town was unique because every house was a red/orange/yellowish tone because all the rocks around this area were these colors. The tale is said that a woman from the village cheated on her husband with a man, so her husband got mad and killed the other man. He took out his heart, cooked it, and gave it to his wife. Without knowing that, she ate it. After she found out, she was so devastated she killed her self over a cliff in the town. Her blood is said to be the reason why all the rocks are red. Okay bizarre French tales.  Anyways, the view from the top of the village was spectacular so of course we took millions of pictures and also played inspirational music to make the scenery even prettier.

On our way to the next village, we took a quick stop to take some pictures in front of lavendine fields. Yes, I said Lavendine, not lavender. Lavender only grows up high in the mountains and only in Provence. Lavendine is basically the brother to lavender, and it has the same smelling purpose as  lavender. However, lavendine does not have any medical use. So, if you get anything lavender scented it is most likely actually made with lavendine.

The second village we visited was another small village built on top of the hills and it included an old castle. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go in the castle. However, we took many more scenery pics. And what would our day be without visiting some sort of church?! This one was brightly painted inside of it, but was very small.

After, we headed to the third village, Gorde, where we bought the best gelato ever. I tried the lavender flavor, and it ended up being fantastic. I’m definitely going to miss ice cream shops every five feet, but my wallet is going to love me a lot more with out them. When we took even MORE scenery pics, we even modeled for some people trying to take pictures of scenery (because we were in the way). I think they thought it was funny…

Finally, we headed to Pont du Garde, aka that huge aqueduct you always see in pictures. And yes, that was the third time I’ve been there and I’m not ashamed. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of battery at the same time my phone ran out of space…oops.

We were going to go out that night…but opted to stay in. Oh yea, before that we also ate mcdonalds. I swear I’ve never eaten this much McDonalds in my lifetime. In fact, I hate it in the states but they have potato wedges here so it’s better.

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Posted on July 9, 2013, in Study abroad and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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