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The Little Review
Making No Compromises With the Public Taste
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Saturday, 25th February 2017 12:40 am - Poem for Saturday and Arles Roman Sites
From Tanka DiaryCollapse )

Home. Jetlagged. Cats so happy to see us they walked on us all night. About 3/4 unpacked. Two laundries washed, not yet folded. Photos only 1/3 uploaded to Flickr. Cat food and French bread acquired at food store. 80 degrees out, despite it being February. Crocuses and apricot blossoms in Cabin John Park. Dinner with parents. Now distracted by Hugh Jackman on The Tonight Show. More when awake. Pics of ancient Roman sites in Arles, including the amphitheater, Alyscamps necropolis, Thermes de Constantin, and 1st century theater:

Rome In ArlesCollapse )
Thursday, 23rd February 2017 12:42 am - Greetings from Home
We spent nearly all of Thursday traveling, though I did get plenty of exercise racing through Munich's massive airport after we took off thirty minutes late from Toulouse due to some sort of medical emergency with someone on our plane and had to go running to make our connecting flight to Dulles. Fortunately the snack Lufthansa fed us on the flight to Munich was big enough to count for lunch, and they fed us dinner and breakfast on the flight to DC even though it wasn't an overnight flight! We are very tired now and have lots of laundry and unpacking to do. Our one sightseeing activity for the day after leaving our hotel breakfast and before returning the rental car was a visit to Toulouse's Roman amphitheater ruins, surrounded by a quiet neighborhood and big contemporary church:

Romans Were HereCollapse )
Thursday, 23rd February 2017 12:03 am - Greetings from Toulouse
This is our last night in France, which makes me sad, though I also miss my cats and people at home so I will be glad to see them! Today I am exhausted not from staying up sightseeing but from hiking up to the Château de Montségur, where the Cathars made their last stand. It's a long, steep hike up at elevation, surrounded by snow-covered mountains, and completely worth it. Earlier in the day we visited another Cathar castle, the Château de Puivert, which has several restored rooms among its ruined towers including one that celebrates the troubadours from the region who gathered there. It's an easy walk up the hill from the parking lot to Puivert, though there's no running water anywhere in the area so the only bathroom is three trees to the left of the trail.

We brought cheese sandwiches for lunch from our hotel because we weren't sure we'd be able to find an open cafe in the remote areas in which we were traveling, so we had a picnic beneath Montségur, then continued on to Toulouse. After so many days in gorgeous, spiritually important small towns, I wasn't sure whether the city would be disappointing, but the historic areas are right next to the university here and it's like a big, happy college town with dozens of cafes and hundreds of people sitting by the Garonne River enjoying a spectacular sunset. We're going to try to see Toulouse's Roman amphitheatre before we head to the airport in the morning!

Castles and ChurchesCollapse )
Wednesday, 22nd February 2017 12:31 am - Greetings from the Campagne-sur-Aude
We spent Tuesday in the land of the Cathars, beginning at the Cité de Carcassonne which was a center of the religion that was the target of the Albigensian Crusades. We toured the incredible restored walled city, which maintains some of the earliest Roman features in its largely medieval fortress, and visited the Museum of the Inquisition before having lunch in one of the cafés that now occupy the old stone buildings. Then we drove to Rennes-les-Bains, a town founded over the hot springs along the river Sals, which feeds into the Aude. This town and Rennes-le-Chateau are connected with legends concerning Mary Magdalene and the Templar treasure, and we visited the latter as well, though the Bérenger Saunière museum with its links to the Merovingians, the Cathars, the Priory of Sion, the Holy Grail, and Mary Magdalene was not open, though we got to see several Cathar ruins in the nearby mountains. Now we're in Campagne-sur-Aude so that in the morning we can visit Montsegur, where the Cathars made their last stand.

LanguedocCollapse )
Tuesday, 21st February 2017 12:42 am - Greetings from Gaul, the Camargue and Carcassonne
Monday was a nearly perfect though extremely tiring day, starting with breakfast in Arles and visits to the Van Gogh and Roman sites we hadn't seen the day before, then lunch and a visit to the church at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, then a wonderful visit to the nearby Parc Ornithologique de Pont-de-Gau with its incredible waterfowl, and finally dinner in Carcassonne with a longtime online friend and her family who drove all the way from Barcelona to see us when we couldn't meet them in Perpignan! A few photos:

Across the SouthCollapse )
Monday, 20th February 2017 12:36 am - Greetings from Avignon, Tarascon, and Arles
Sunday was a day of antiques -- walled cities, ancient structures, castles, churches, art. We started after breakfast by parking within the walls of old Avignon, where we toured the papal palace, which is pretty amazing; parts are in major disrepair after the buildings were used as barracks during the early part of the last century, but the size of the place and the magnificence of the still-decorated and restored rooms is hard to miss. We left the French popes to visit Pont du Gard, site of part of an ancient Roman aqueduct and a museum on Roman ruins in the region. We had crepes for lunch there and walked across the river along the Nîmes aqueduct.

Then we drove to Tarascon to visit the Église Sainte-Marthe, named for another woman who knew Jesus personally, came to France after his death, and is famous for taming a local monster with holy water. We also saw the imposing Chateau de Tarascon with its moat and representation of the monster! We finished the day in Arles, where to our disappointment Van Gogh's Cafe de Nuit was closed since it's the off season for tourists, but we got to see some spots where Van Gogh painted as well as some of the Roman ruins, plus we found a little cafe that stayed open late to serve us wine plus excellent bread and cheese concoctions!

Sinners and Saints, Ancient Romans, ArtistsCollapse )
Sunday, 19th February 2017 12:01 am - Greetings from Sainte-Baume and Cavaillon
After waking up to watch the sun rise over the Mediterranean Sea, eating a huge breakfast surrounded by men in town for the Delko Marseille-Provence bicycle race, and peeking at Sainte-Maxime's botanical gardens, we drove into the hills to the visitor center at the Hotellerie de la Sainte-Baume, from which we walked up a very steep couple of kilometers to the stunning Sainte-Baume grotto where Mary Magdalene reputedly lived and died after fleeing the Holy Land. We had a picnic in the park below the grotto before driving to the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, which claims Mary's bones. When we walked a bit around the town, we were surprised to find a New Age spiritual store with items devoted not only to the Catholic saints celebrated in the basilica but many other world religious traditions from Judaism to Buddhism, run by people who commiserated about the terrible US election and told us how worried they are about Marine Le Pen and the right-wing lunatics in France. From there, we drove to Cavaillon, which has a Jewish museum housed in the onetime synagogue that dates back centuries. Now we are in Avignon, where we have had excellent Italian-French food!

From the Sea to AvignonCollapse )
Saturday, 18th February 2017 12:01 am - Greetings from Toulon and the Côte d'Azur
Another quickie because I can't keep my eyes open! We had a long, lovely day starting with breakfast in Marseille (excellent bread, cheese, chocolate croissants) followed by a visit to the Calanque de Sormiou, but the fog was so thick that we could barely see either the tops of the hills or the water below. So we headed toward Toulon, first visiting Fort Balaguier's naval museum, then Toulon's own maritime museum. We brought cheese and bread to make sandwiches which we ate in one of the squares. From there we headed to Le Cannet, where one of my personal heroines is buried. Now we're right next to Saint-Tropez enjoying the beach, though it's a bit chilly to swim, since lots of flowers are in bloom and there's a lemon tree covered with fruit right outside our window, plus lots of just-released Johto Pokemon!

Toulon, Le Cannet, Sainte MaximeCollapse )
Friday, 17th February 2017 12:11 am - Greetings from Marseille
...where Paul and I arrived mid-morning after and overnight flight and connection through Frankfurt (which was quite turbulent for a while and then we were flying with a perfectly clear view of the Irish coast, Cardiff, Bristol, London, and parts of Belgium and Germany, so we got almost no sleep). So this will be a short-on-comments picture post, whereas other days in Provence it may be hard to post photos so it will be all talky! In general we had stunning sunny weather, were well fed on both flights, and were able either to make ourselves understood in bad French or to find people who speak English, so it's all been great!

Vieux PortCollapse )
Wednesday, 15th February 2017 12:42 am - Poem for Wednesday and Valentine's Day
L'amourCollapse )

My Tuesday involved lots of chores, but it was a good day -- Paul got a job offer from his first interview! (Which is sucky timing as they want him to start instantly, but it's still a positive after a year of a massive amount of shit.) We had to drag Maddy shopping a bunch of places so we took her to lunch at California Tortilla, which has its Superfood Burrito Bowls back and free Nutella chips for Valentine's Day, plus we had Valentine candy from my parents and each other.

I spent the late afternoon doing exciting things like dyeing my hair, backing up my hard drive, and folding laundry, and we had a crazy busy evening with more chores, so we didn't eat dinner till after 8 p.m. in front of the television watching A Good Year, because it's Valentine's Day and it has Russell and Cheryl has it so we could watch together long distance. And we caught up on Victoria, where I missed Rufus. Here is Lego Batman from my Valentine this year:

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