France - Monte Carlo to Arles
This has been the start of a very busy summer. I quit my regular job at L.L.Bean to devote more time to my photography, and to take a needed vacation to France. The next few blog entries will be playing catch up with my activities. As soon as I returned from vacation I had a family session to shoot, then a 4th of July wedding, followed by a four day trip to the Gaspe' Peninsula in Quebec, Canada to photograph Gannet's.
I hope you enjoy reading about some of my adventures.
The month of June found me, and my significant other, Rose, on a River Cruise up the Rhone River in the South of France. After 9 days on the river, we were to take the high speed train to Paris for the last two days of our adventure. This was one of the best, and most relaxing, vacations I have experienced. Avalon River Cruises really know how to do it. It was nice having your hotel float along with you, and not having to live out of a suitcase as you travel.
As we were gone for 14 days, there will be several entries to tell the tale of our adventure in wine country, with wonderful food and photo opportunities around every bend of the river.
On the 14th of June we left Portland, Maine on the bus headed for Logan Airport in Boston, MA. We checked our bags with Swiss Air and breezed through TSA and customs. The plane was late leaving by about 45 minutes, but we are truly on our way. The staff on Swiss Air were really nice, courteous and helpful. The Plane was one of the worst. I paid extra for more leg room. If that was more, pity the poor schmuck with regular leg room. I could hardly get in and out of the seat. Granted, I am not exactly a small person, but come on.
We landed in Zurick on the 15th, but our 2 hour layover was now much shorter. We managed to get to the other side of the airport for our connecting flight to Nice with about 10 minutes to spare. This flight was not so nice, the staff was rude and just not friendly at all.
Suitcases made it, and it was a breeze going through customs in Nice, France (maybe too easy). A driver and representative from Avalon were waiting for us, and we were off to the first stop on our trip: Monte Carlo, Monaco. The driver gave us a great history lesson of the area as he wound through the tight, busy streets. After checking in the hotel, and the Welcome Briefing by the Avalon Cruise Director, Rose and I walked around Monte Carlo taking in the view and searching for a restaurant. After eating, we spent the next hour walking around and looking at the shops and scenery. Everything seems to be built on very steep hills. We finally found our way back to the Fairmont Hotel to relax a little and get a good nights sleep.
Rose and I elected to take the optional tour of Nice in the morning of the 16th. Cecile, the tour guide, led us on a very informative discovery of Nice. The Bus driver was amazingly patient in the crazy traffic. (We were to discover that this was a pattern of behavior amongst Bus Drivers in France. They did an amazing job of negotiating small streets with incredible traffic of Cars, Trucks, Buses, Mopeds, Vespas, motorcycles and Bicycles.)
Spent an hour of free time in the Flower Market, and sitting at an outside cafe sipping an American Cafe'. The Bus stopped at several scenic overlooks on the way back to Monte Carlo.
After a light lunch at an incredible little outside cafe in Monte Carlo it was time to make our way back to the hotel. The Coffee Eclair was great and Rose had 4 scrumptious Macaroons of different flavors.
Then it was time to board the bus for our 3 1/2 hour ride to Arles and the Avalon Ship "Scenery". The only rain we saw on the entire vacation was on this leg of the journey. We were cooped up in a Bus, so the rain really didn't matter.
We had a welcome cocktail aboard the ship and a fabulous dinner of Veal. Rose was given first class service by the dining room staff and her Gluten Free requirements were catered to. We were to discover that first class meals and treatment were the norm aboard the Avalon ship.
Suitcases unpacked, electronics plugged in. Tomorrow starts the actual tour festivities in Arles.
17 June 2015 - Another wonderful breakfast on the ship and it was off for a walking tour of Arles. It is great being able to see such historic things as the Roman Coliseum and the ruins of the Roman Baths. The Coliseum was built around 45 B.C. and is still being used for concerts and bull fights. This morning it was evidently time for a side adventure. I became separated from the tour group, along with a couple from Australia, Russell and Wendy. A very nice couple and good companions to be on your own with. After some amount of extra walking, we found our group and finished the tour of Arles.
Back to the ship for lunch and at 3:30 p.m. it was time for another adventure. This time we boarded a bus headed to several spots on the quest to see the places that Vincent Van Gogh lived and painted, along with a stop at the Asylum at St. Remy where he lived for a couple of years. Very beautiful country, and it is easy to see where Van Gogh got his inspiration. After a welcome stop in St. Remy for some refreshments at yet another outside cafe, we headed back to the ship.
Outside cafe's will be theme throughout our time in France.
The evening brought one of the more formal Captain's dinner and then entertainment in the lounge by a gypsy trio and a dance. Off to bed as we make our way to Avignon.
For more travel information on France, be sure to check out the Blog by Jen: 100 Best Things to do in France
Keywords: Arles, Avalon, Carlo, France, Monaco, Monte, Nice, Provence, Scenery, cruise, landscape, photography, river, ship
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