Friday, March 13, 2009
ARLES & VINCENT VAN GOGH
Thursday, March 12, 2009 Train trip to Arles
The train pulled out right on time. We had an open car this time instead of the small compartments. The views of the snow covered mountains made it hard to concentrate on our novels that we occasionally get out to read. It was a two hour journey with fewer stops than on our ride to Lourdes and soon we were in the station at Toulouse. Found seats in the station; not an easy thing to do because of the numbers of people and ate our lunch that we’d brought with us. Mary is learning how to read the train information boards so we took turns checking on the schedule. When it was just about time for our train track number announcement we discovered a statement that our train was delayed for possibly thirty minutes. Bottom line: we were an hour late in departing from Toulouse. I called the hotel to let them know we were delayed and would arrive beyond the 7 pm limit; they said “no problem”.
Announcements were made regularly but all in French. Our train was going all the way to Marseille so Mary was a bit concerned about making sure we got off at Arles. During one of the first announcements, she turned around and said to the people around us “does anyone speak English”….sure enough a nice young man said he could translate for us. Over the next three hours he would translate and actually came up several times and sat with us to talk about our trip, himself and France. When we arrived in Arles he carried both of our suitcases off the train for us. Mary negotiated her own suitcase down the track stairs and then some Americans helped her up on the other side. We’re getting pretty good a bouncing them and then someone almost always stops to help.
Found a taxi right outside the station; it was dark outside by now and there was a marvelous sky with swirls of pink in the darken skies but we were too busy to take any photos. Arrived at our Hotel de la Muette, I stayed here in 1999, and Madam put us into a downstairs room right behind the desk.
I got Mary to walk outside a bit; we found a bakery and purchased two baguettes and a large meringue to share for dessert tonight. We ate one of the breads as we walked around; most everything is closed and it’s not even 8 pm. We found the Roman Arena with all of its light on for night photos before heading back towards the Hotel that was only a few blocks away. Just before leaving Mary found a manhole cover with the name of the town so she was a happy camper! She is trying to take a photo in each town we visit of a manhole cover with the name of the city and our shoes on it! She’s going to make a composite photo for her travel wall at home with these photos.
We do have CNN here instead of BBC and again it’s a beautiful flat screened TV on the wall. We are sharing a king size bed and using the single bed in the room as a “table” for stuff! It’s interesting; at home I always sleep on the right side of the bed and she always sleeps on the left side of the bed in Florida. Mary says this is the way we always slept when we were kids. So, we are perfectly comfortable sharing a bed after fifty years.
Friday, March 13, 2009 Arles France
Arles is famous for many things: first and foremost it was a very important Roman city in the time of Julius Caesar and many of the Roman antiquities remain; the south suffered far less damage during the wars and many original building remain. It is also famous because the artist Vincent Van Gogh spent two years here painting many of his more famous canvases of sites and buildings in the town. So today we’ll visit many of those places to compare them to the paintings that are posted on “easel boards” at each of the sites. See second slideshow and descriptions at the end.
Most of the sites were very easy to get to except for the drawbridge…we walked about an hour each way to get to that one! After we returned it was time for showers…it had turned into a very warm day and we kept shedding clothes as we walked! Afterwards we shopped at the Monoprix for dinner and meals for the weekend and then attended the 6 pm Mass at the church. Dinner was a picnic on our bed before turning on the computers. We’ve really enjoyed our stay in Arles but we’re scheduled to pick up a car tomorrow in Avignon and then head for L’ Isle-sur-la-Sorgue where we’ll stay for nine nights while exploring Provence. Our first challenge will be to discover where we can get the Internet as we know for sure that our hotel does not have the service for guests.
THE VAN GOGH PAINTINGS:
The Yellow House…where he lived…small house in front was bombed in the war but the large building behind and the railroad bridge on the side still exist.
Starry Night Over The Rhone…bridge is and many of buildings that created the shore lights are gone … bombed during the war .. but the river and ends of bridge are still here.
Les Arenes d’Arles … A painting done of the crowds in the Roman Arena
The Jardin d’Ete and the Roman Theater….
Langlois Drawbridge…a mile and a half outside of town….we walked for an hour each way to find this sight!
Café at Night…. In the Place du Forum is the famous Café that Van Gogh not only painted but was a frequent visitor in the establishment.