Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Toussaint, Day 7...

vendredi 30 octobre
Arles and free afternoon!

The day in Arles…well, we started off the day with a tour. Surprised? This was literally one of the longest tours I have been on in my life. Part of this was probably due to the fact that it was 3 hours long…ugh. Part of this was also due to extreme fatigue of tours in general. The town is actually fairly charming, and really old. Like, old enough to merit Roman architecture. We saw the ampitheater they built, as well as the old Roman baths. For living 2,000 years ago, they were astonishingly advanced in their technology. We even got to go under the town hall, which is built on an old forum of sorts. So we got to see where Romans walked, underground. There we experienced that wonderful French phenomeon of “tag along with the tour groups and pretend we’re part of the group too, even if we’re clearly 20 years older than said students. It is really fairly ridiculous how often this happens here.

After our 3-hour-tour (you’re welcome), we headed off to lunch. As Arles is fairly close to the Mediterranean, you would probably be correct if you guessed our lunch consisted of seafood. Actually, you would be correct. We had paella, which actually originated in Spain, if I do not confuse myself. It was yummy, minus having to peel the largest shrimp in the history of the world. They still had eyes, I’m telling you. During lunch, we took a survey to see what everyone felt like doing – apparently we were all really burned out, so none of us wanted to do anything. However, we all perked up when Dr. Allen mentioned the beach. How could we resist?

After lunch, we headed off for the Mediterranean. How cool is that? We got to a little town that is named something like Mary-on-the-sea (no joke, it really was) and headed straight for the beach. Actually, we headed straight for the ice cream stand. There was a gelato stand not 20 feet from the beach, and since it was a beautiful 70 degrees outside, we made a beeline for it. I personally went for coffee- and Nutella-flavored gelato. Delicious. With gelato in hand, we headed for the beach. Contrary to the stereotype of French beaches, this one did indeed have sand. However, the water was already ice cold. We all tested it. So instead of doing much wading, we contented ourselves with lounging in the sunlight. Great idea for an afternoon diversion.

After a relaxing afternoon, we all wanted to head out to dinner together. So we trekked off to a restaurant in Arles’ center square (incidentally, next to the one that Van Gogh painted while he lived in Arles. The specialty was: bull. Really. According to those who had the courage to order it, it was actually really tasty. I, being the coward I am, stuck with a fairly neutral and safe pizza. Not extraordinary, but nothing in France is actually bad, so it was fine. :) The dinner itself was hysterical, as any dinner accompanied by wine would tend to be. All in all, a good end to a good day.

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