Bulls, Bulls, Bulls....

Trip Start May 31, 2007
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Flag of France  ,
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sitting in an Internet cafe overlooking the Forum Plaza in Arles drinking a real cappuccino feeling a bit like I am back in SF listening to Black Eyed Peas...my rump song which is blasting over the speakers.  Everywhere we go there are glimpses of American culture...whether it be music, movies or clothing. Yesterday we had a relaxing morning in Avignon before going to the train station for a short trip to Arles.  Trudged around the streets for about 20 minutes with luggage before arriving at our hotel, Hotel de Amphitheater.  We decided that we will be paying for a taxi on our way back! 

Our hotel is aptly named as it is a few steps away from the majestic ancient Roman Amphitheater in the middle of town.  The Romans sure did know how to locate their cities.  I guess I didn't expect to see ancient ruins on this tour but have been pleasantly surprised to experience the history between my creamy french culinary dishes and loads of great wine.  Our tour leader, Stan, has taken us to amazing restaurants each day and evening.  My waistline and pocketbook are feeling it.  At times he has joined us and we have been able to hear more about France and get to know him and other times he has left the four of us on our own (the tour group is very small) to get to know each other better.

Tonight we will go to see a bull fight in the Amphitheater and today we will see a number of photography exhibits in town.  There is a world renowned photography school here in Arles...perhaps this is the reason we have enjoyed so many great photography exhibits in town.  Have heard Flamenco guitar quite a bit here and have experienced more of a Spanish flavor since arriving. 

Apparently Van Gogh spent time here in Arles and I can see why.  The colors, light and sky have been breathtaking.  We have had intermittent rain which at times has caused the sky to be grey but then the sun will break through and brilliant patches of blue will emerge amongst the pillowy white clouds.

So I am back now after leaving the bullfight or rather exhibition early.  Didn't really enjoy seeing the bull confused and desperately trying to leave the stadium.  Glad it wasn't a fight to the death.  That would have probably been my undoing.  Earlier my mom and I went to see the Abbey outside of town called Montmajour constructed in the Middle Ages on the island of Montmajour...at least that's what the paperwork said. It seemed like a hill to me.  Perhaps the river receded...global warming or something.

There is an 11th century pre-Romanesque building, the hermitage of Saint-Pierre, a crypt, a church and a 12th century Romanesque cloister constructed by the Benedictine monks.  It was enlarged in the 18th century with a second monastery to the West called the Saint-Maur building.  Very good views of the countryside, a collection of white stallions in a field, and various country stone structures, some petite mountains and a sky dotted with various cloud formations. 

Have my laptop balanced precariously on my lap in the lobby of the hotel trying to keep the Internet signal.  Supposedly there is free Internet, but like most things in life you really get what you pay for.  In this case, without the laptop there would be no Internet.  Perhaps the universe is trying to keep me on my trip and not writing here...on that note, we had a funny thing happen last night.  My mom keeps wanting butter for the bread here and since none of us speaks proper French or really any French it has been a challenge to make this request.  We finally got some butter last night but after about 5 minutes the waiter cleared the table and took the plate of butter.  We all looked on with our jaws open speechless then in hysterics as we realized what had happened. Apparently my mom was coveting the butter too much and it had to be taken away!  A lesson in detachment I suppose...
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