**Internet problems solved!  All is took was a good sleep and a modem re-boot.  This was written yesterday, but still applies.  ;)

Sur la pont d’Avignon... that song is stuck in my head and won’t leave!  If you aren’t familiar with this French children’s song then you should You Tube it – but be warned that it will burrow in to the synapses of your neurons and it will never leave!  (Seriously, 12 hours later the tune is still spinning around and around in my head…)  Today was spent in Avignon; a city with an absolute ton of history.  In the 14th century it was the seat of Western Christianity.  Many people don’t know that not all popes have lived in Vatican City, but until 1370 there were 7 popes and 2 anti-popes that resided there.  (What is an anti-pope?)  The historic center is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I don’t think they give those designations out to just anyone!

It’s a remarkable city with huge, strong fortified walls around it which are 800 years old.  I suppose you would need to ensure that your Pope(s) are safe so those walls seem like good risk management to me.  As with many other cities of this age there were lots of cobblestones and gelato shops, but also a really nice climb up a hill behind the palace which had gardens, playgrounds and beautiful views of the Rhône. This was also a great vantage point for viewing the Pont d’Avignon (Bridge of Avignon).  It’s hard to imagine, but it was built between 1177 and 1185.  A flood in 1669 swept away a large portion of the bridge, and now you see just four remaining arches.  It’s now a tourist attraction (and historical monument of course) and a cute little diddy for children to sing along to.

Today we got crazy (definition is questionable) and packed ourselves a picnic lunch.  We found an ice pack in the freezer and an insulation bag in the laundry room, and we decided to avoid paying €50 for food that we couldn’t finish.  So we spread some (aaaaamazing) pepper Boursin on a baguette with some salami, sliced a funny wrinkly local tomato, and added a few leaves from the teeniest little Romaine lettuce head I’ve ever seen.  We ate that lunch on the steps of the Papal Palace and I think it may have been the most satisfying lunch of the trip!  We’d also brought some peach iced tea, water, and a mini bottle of rosé wine.  So simple, and so delicious.  The people watching was fantastic, and in fact a man without shoes (he had handkerchiefs tied around his feet) sat down and had a lengthy conversation with Jeff about bees and whether or not they still exist in Canada.  It’s easy to make assumptions about someone based on appearance, but this guy was very knowledgeable about radio frequencies affecting bees, and even knew that Calgary hosted the winter Olympics many years ago.  He fondly recalled a romance from long ago with a figure skater from Montreal.  I’m sure he wasn’t operating on all cylinders, but he was a nice man just doing what he does.  He took our empty water bottle and set up a little juggling stand hoping for a few coins tossed his way.  It’s never boring around here.

As is our usual modus operandi, we were back at our apartment and out on our veranda by about 4 pm.  Snacks, beverages, reading… it’s tough.  But, it’s not all play as we also did two loads of laundry which dried in record time in this crazy heat.  In general I don’t like their insanely scented laundry detergent here, so from home I brought a little Tupperware filled with powdered health food store detergent which I had to pre-dissolve in a cup with some water.  To this I added a little foil package of Tide that is sold in the travel section for sink washing.  Together this concoction is ideal! Our undergarments have never been so fresh.

I have a dinner disclaimer.  We have not enjoyed the food in this region as much as we have in our previous stays in France.  Not that it’s bad, per se, but we haven’t been entirely impressed due to the lofty expectations we came with.  Perhaps it’s just this particular town, but it seems like almost every place has the same menu.  Their speciality is bull, but that’s not really my thing.  Tonight’s restaurant had a few different things on it and I was really excited.  I had the fish soup and it was delicious; you put aioli on crostini and float them in the soup.  Once they sink you break it up and eat it with the soup which is neither thick nor thin.  It was delicious!  Unfortunately I made the mistake of ordering gambas for dinner… I know it is shrimp, but I think I was picturing more of a Red Lobster presentation than a south of France one.  They were absolutely huge and still had the heads on them.  Not only were they a lot of work, but they had a much fishier taste than the ones I’m used to and it just didn’t sit well with me.  The double kicker was that Jeff ordered the same thing!  This goes against all of our rules, but I guess neither of us were paying attention. Nothing happens quickly here, and it took quite a while for the waitress to clear our plates; I was sitting downwind and couldn’t get the shrimp smell out of my nose!  To make matters worse, both Jeff and I had it all over our hands and we couldn’t escape it!  I jammed my fingertips in to the lemon wedge on my plate, and Jeff attempted to wash his hands in the bathroom.  Can you believe it was the one public bathroom in France that didn’t have scented soap?  Awhwhrgwhhhah the smell wouldn’t leave us alone!!  Thankfully we returned home and scrubbed the *BLEEP* out of our hands, and now all is well with the universe. No more gambas for us, live and learn.  :)


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