Friday, November 23, 2012

Aix en Provence

After getting lost in Nîmes, we decided the next morning we would take it easy and hang around Avignon until our train leaves for Aix en Provence.

We wanted to go to an outdoor market in Avignon.  Walking while studying the street map, I fell off a curb in front of some rather chic-looking young ladies.  Oh, the embarrassment!

I brushed myself off, a little sore, but it's not going to ruin my day. 

We strolled through an antiques market, paused in a church, and bought a pretty painting of Avignon's famous bridge from a charming artist who has set up shop in a garden.

Then we boarded the train to Aix en Provence.

We'd heard good things about Aix en Provence, so we thought we'd stop along the way to Nice.  Receiving our train ticket, we noticed that we're also given a bus ticket.


As it turns out, the train station is a good distance from city center.  We found the right bus to take us into the city, and which let everyone off in the middle of a very busy roundabout.  There were no traffic signals and driving seemed like a complete free-for-all.

Remember the video game Frogger?  Except we're pulling luggage.

I saw a sign for the city center, and we started down that street until the sidewalk ends, and we realized that the street is more like a minor highway.  An off-duty bus driver parked on the side of the road saw our dilemma and offered directions.

Once again, who said the French aren't nice to Americans?  Not us!

I could go on and on about how we're sweaty and irritable by the time we spot a bus stop that would take us toward the center of the city.  My husband proclaimed, "No matter where it's going, I'm getting on the next bus."

I started under the bus shelter to consult the map, but stop short.  A man was lying on the pavement in his own vomit.  He was not moving.  His head was turned away from us, but the angles of his body don't look natural.  Two people were standing nearby in official-looking dark jumpsuits.  They weren't helping the man on the ground.

I whispered to my husband, "I think that man is dead!"

"Me too.  Keep walking!"

Now my day was ruined.  At this point, I'm finished with Aix en Provence.  Forget about the bus.  Find me a taxi and take me to the hotel where I can book the first train out of town tomorrow!

So much for charming Aix en Provence.

Last stop...Nice.  Much nicer than Aix en Provence.

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