Did you know that for a while during the 14th century, the Catholic church picked up everything and relocated its seat of power from Rome to Avignon? It was all because of politics (some things never change!), and for 70-something years the popes took up residence in France instead of Italy. Obviously, it was a pretty short-lived stint in the history of the church, but it left behind the grand Palais des Papes as well as a pretty impressive claim to fame for Avignon.
On Wednesday after work we left campus for a little foray into the city, primarily to get some baklava, but also for dinner and so I could get some socks at the nearby mall. Our time in Istanbul is really wrapping up - our last day of camp is today and we skip town just a couple of days later - so we're getting daring and doing crazy things like this during the week and not just over the weekend anymore. Honestly, I couldn't be more ready to leave Turkey, but that's another story. :)
My memories of Arles are probably different from those of most people. It was Easter morning when we visited, but instead of the streets being deserted, they were packed due to the town's Easter Feria, and the weather was blustery, like unusually so, and I just couldn't seem to get my hair under control or out of my face the whole time (I think I forgot or misplaced my hair tie which is why I don't appear in any photos).
Aix-en-Provence...town of a thousand fountains, which sit in pretty squares, are tucked in lush gardens, make up traffic roundabouts, and along pedestrianized streets...this is truly France at its finest. Shady streets, an unusual green and gold organ in the town's cathedral, hip restaurants and shops making their home in the first floor of ancient, tall, shuttered buildings (shuttered, as in, having shutters, not being shut down) all combine to make up a town that's good for walking and just enjoying.
While planning our trip around southern France, a few sources advised that we skip Cannes altogether. They suggested that Cannes has become nothing but a glamorous and exclusive playground for the rich and famous with fancy boutiques, expensive restaurants, and fashionable hotels. Perhaps I saw this as a challenge to find something good about Cannes, and to at least give it a shot at since it wasn't far from Nice and was pretty much not out of our way at all as we finished up on the southern coast of France and started to head inland again.
Èze was our fourth stop as we took the train along the French coast from town to town all day. The train station is located near the coast, but the town itself sits high up on a hill, and is best reached by car or by bus (some kind of wheeled transport), or for the hearty, by foot. I don't know if we're necessarily hearty, but we are frugal, so we took the Nietzche path all the way to the top, and I believe it took us around an hour.
Last Friday we made a long overdue trip to a tiny village on the Black Sea not far at all from where we're living for the summer. If you take a direct road route, it's about nine miles, but while we're learning, we aren't all that familiar with how buses and everything work here, and took a rather roundabout way, which meant it took us about 45 minutes to get there. Our coworkers have been visiting the seaside town of Kilyos all summer long, almost since the day we all arrived, but since the temperatures haven't really gotten above the low 80's (not complaining though!), I didn't really want to go to the trouble - to me that's not warm enough to get in the water, especially since you have to pay to use the beach here.
When I was deciding which towns to visit along the French coast on the day that we planned to make a loop from Nice to Menton and back (and stopping in lots of places along the way), it didn't even cross my mind to go to Italy. I guess if I had really thought about it, I knew that Italy was nearby, and we could theoretically go, but I don't think I realized we were really that close, so when I read some blogs suggesting that visitors go just to say they'd been (if they never had before) or to stop by just for the pasta, my interest was slightly piqued, if only just for the second reason (carbs - they always get me).