Sunday, April 26, 2009

Avignon and the Pont du Gard

It rained from about 20:00 last night and only finished raining at 19:00 this evening so we have had a thoroughly miserable day from the weather point of view and the weather over here, to a large extent, determines the amount by which one enjoys the sights.

We had arranged to go paddling under the pont du gard but the weather was so miserable and we couldn't find the people that were renting the canoes out yesterday so we assumed that it had been cancelled due to the weather. We were just about to decide what to do instead when a girl walked up and wanted to know if we still wanted to paddle in spite of the rain. She was a little surprised when we said that we would like to go paddling so dressed up warmly in our jackets and raincoats we set off.

And another photo of the pont du gard taken in better weather.

And yet another with our canoe, note the complete lack of people on the actual bridge; there is normally loads of people walking backwards and forwards over the bridge. This gives an idea of the weather.

We paddled on for a couple of kilometres while the rain pelted down but fortunately we actually weren't that cold. Our feet and hands were but the life jackets, raincoats and fleeces not to mention the gentle exercise kept the rest of us nice and toasty. We met the girl just below the green bridge and pulled the canoe out. She was very interested in the olympus because it was waterproof so I think that olympus has made a sale out of this.

Although it sounds like it should be a city featured in King Arthurs "Once and future king" it's claim to fame is that it was, for about 100 years, the seat of the pope. He had been forced to relocate fom Rome due to a civil war being waged in Italy as well as political machinations by the king of France but, for whatever reason, he moved his palace. I thought that there is no chance of getting in to see the current papal palace so we should have a look at one here in its stead.

We had quite a job finding parking because it is in the middle of the old city and driving in that is a nightmare and especially so because it is so difficult to reverse and on top of that, the turning circle of the caddy isn't so great. We didn't want to park too far away because of the rain but in the end had no choice and parked outside the city walls but when we emerged from the underground parking we were on the inside! The parking has been built almost underneath the city walls. A quick cup of coffee to cheer us up and we set off for the 'palais du papes' which we found quite easily and even recognised some of the tiny roads that we had navigated around. There was one road that was so narrow that I just couldn't see how the car was going to get through so rather than get stuck and have to reverse I chickened out. The problem in these inner cities is that the roads are so close together that the gps has problems deciding what direction and on which road one actually is.

A we walked up to the entrance of the palais du papes there was a little break in the cloud which highlighted the statue on the top of the column as if to say "welcome, you have finally made it".

After all the effort to actually get there, the palais was a so, so experience. Fairly interesting but not great but they sure know how to build things big. Things like the popes bedroom has a ceiling that is about 9m above the floor; what for I can't imagine.

Driving back the sqealing from the engine compartment was really starting to annoy me, I think that it is due to the wet weather. At least I hope it is due to the wet weather. Now I remember why I don't own old cars anymore, things that don't work drive me to distraction!

Arriving back at the campsite we hid in the tent while it continued to pour with rain until about 19:00 or 20:00 when it started to lift and by about 20:30 we had some weak sunshine in the camp. It seems that everyone had cabin fever because the entire campsite seemed to be outside and walking around. It's very beautiful here when it isn't raining and one can actually be outside.

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