We had planned an early start and had finished breakfast and packing by 8. However, we wanted to make one more trip to the market – me to get some fruit and Sam to get his dragon fruit juice. We were soon back to check out of the hotel and to get our luggage back to pick up our car. Getting it out of the car park was much easier than it had been getting it in, and we were soon heading off through the moderately light Barcelona traffic.
The first diversion of the day was to check out the Costa Brava, but that proved to be a fruitless exercise as other than see the water briefly as we drove by, we were unable to find a single spot to stop along the busy and very narrow streets. We were soon back on the road again to Avignon.
Not long before we got there, we encountered a heavy rain storm with hail. We decided we should get off the road and let it pass, but in doing so, we actually exited the motorway which we had not long made it back onto following our beach deviation. Rather than go back through the toll process we set the GPS to navigate us along some minor roads to complete our journey.
Avignon was impressive with its city walls and we made our way through town to find our very quaint hotel. I had driven much of the way and would have been content to spend the rest of the night relaxing at the hotel, but my travelling companions were keen to see more of Avignon, so I agreed. We all got back into the car and set Tom Tom to find our way to the centre of town when another technological disaster struck. The SD card had come out when I had taken Tom Tom down for security and it was also now dead. This was a matter of grave concern as we had come to rely very heavily on our electronic guide. Apart from a few blips, Ken’s directions had led us very well to obscure destinations whenever we had asked. Fortunately, with the help of a needle from my sewing kit, Peter was able to reset the machine and after several anxious minutes we were once again in touch with our satellites.
I was pleased that I had made the effort to see something of Avignon. It was a very beautiful and interesting city and our walk along its bustling streets soon led us to the Palais de Papes. This had been the seat of the second of 2 popes vying for the job in the 14th century. A street entertainer in the square had us enthralled as he proclaimed in French of an amazing show soon to begin. We were the first to stop and I translated the spiel for Sam and Peter as he continued to drag prop after prop out of his trunk all the time promising a great show as he set up his elaborate but compact stage area. He finally got his show underway in front of what had become quite a large and appreciative audience. His various mimes and juggling acts were worth the wait.
We then had dinner in one of the street cafes before walking back to the car. Our trip home was short-lived as we had only travelled a few hundred metres when we found a market which appeared to have lots of interesting crafts. We stopped and bought a few souvenirs before eventually heading back to bed.
Peter’s account of the evening:
We arrived in Avignon around 5:30 pm and found our way to the Vert Hotel, which was about 4 km to the east of the main part of town. We checked in and found the room small but adequate with a loft over the main bed for Sam and a refrigerator and microwave.
Sam had been talking about simply eating from the store of food, fruit and some rolls, that Majella had in the car. Majella had not enjoyed the drive across Avignon and was thinking of staying in, though she was prepared to scout locally for a shop to supplement her stores. Because Avignon had been her choice I insisted that we should at least look at the city.
We drove back into the city and found parking with no obvious method to pay just outside the walls near the Porte Saint Roch. From there we walked into the old city. Along the way we passed a bakery store that drew Majella in. She was thinking about getting something for a quick breakfast but got interested in buying some pizza pieces to heat for dinner. I was not impressed by the pizza and, though I had no alternative plan, vetoed that one. We walked out empty handed and continued into town, pausing at the Office de Tourisme just as it was closing at 7:00 pm to collect some information and a map.
From there we headed on along the main street toward the Place de i’Horologie and on toward the Palais de Papes. We spent some time watching a street performance before completing our inspection of the palais an heading back the way we had come.
The Place de l’Horologie was lined with restaurants that each had al fresco areas. By this time Majella had abandoned her earlier plan to eat in our room and was persuaded by the spiel of the spruiker for Le Jacquemart, a creperie that served some other food as well. We were captured and led to seats in the al fresco area. I could have had a salad named for one of several popes and selected Salade Benoit XII (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and local goat milk cheese). Majella had Croque Madame and Sam had Crepe Royale (crepe with ham, cheese and mushrooms, with an egg and some lettuce) washed down with orange juice. Majella and I shared a half bottle of Cotes du Rhone Les Argentieres 2008 rose – a precaution because Majella had to drive us back to the hotel. We each enjoyed our meals.
After dinner we walked back to the car and drive off to circle the city wall on the way back to the hotel. We we sidetracked just around the corner by a market where we spent some time and Majella and Sam bought some small gifts.