Thursday, September 16, 2021

France 2021, Day 7, to Avignon and the Buri

On Sunday morning we got up early to visit the Nimes cathedral in which David hides in chapter 5 of Madam, Will You Talk? The Nimes nightlife had gone on late but the narrow streets near the Arena were quiet now and just as we reached the Cathedrale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Castor de Nimes a verger (if they still exist) unlocked it so we were able to go inside. The cathedral is believed to stand on the site of the former temple of Augustus. It is partly Romanesque and partly Gothic in style. St. Castor was a local bishop from Marseilles and Apt (a Provencal town in the Luberon mountains) who started out as a lawyer, proving there's redemption for anyone!
Not the most impressive cathedral from the outside
We stopped for a quick breakfast at one of the outdoor cafes near a large palm tree by our hotel, then wrestled the luggage down two flights of stairs (the hotel staff offered to help after I was done – lack of an elevator, no air conditioning or shower, and awful Internet service would prevent me from returning to Hôtel de l'Amphithéâtre, although the room itself was spacious and the hotel very well located). The walk to the train station wasn’t bad this time and we were quite early for our train to Avignon. It was full and when we saw it stopped at Pont du Gard we wondered in horror if there had actually been a train station right next to it, but although we craned our necks at the stop we didn’t see anything. Avignon is only half an hour from Nimes so by 11:25 we were in the train station jumping into a taxi.
But better from the interior
The sun was shining and the Viking ship Buri was resplendent as we arrived. Buri is a figure in Norse mythology, created by a giant frosty cow named Audumbla, which is very weird. But what made us happy was two young men in uniform who came rushing down the gangplank and took our luggage away. My, were we tired of dragging it around! We congratulated ourselves many times on having done the schlepping part of our trip before the relaxing cruise. We had been told we could arrive after 11 but our room would not be available until 3; however, we were escorted to our stateroom right away. The ship holds 190 passengers but due to Covid and, perhaps, the Delta variant, there are about 90 of us and only three groups in the lowest price tier of cabins. Usually, there are about 48 crew and it is unclear if there are fewer of them because occupancy is lower than usual.
Windows in Nimes
We settled in a bit then wandered upstairs to an alfresco lunch. I had a panini and white wine and what was billed as banana pudding but was more like banana bread with chocolate sauce. It was the first of many delightful meals. The menu is quite varied but always includes a few backup staples like cheeseburgers and chocolate mousse for picky eaters. There was a casual walking tour of Avignon being offered and we should have taken advantage of the sunshine and gone but it was nice just to sit on the sundeck and relax.
Last glimpse of the Nimes Arena
Other passengers were arriving slowly but were not initially very chatty as some had flown all night. We had test tubes waiting in our stateroom to fill with saliva for Covid testing and wondered if we would see people being put ashore if they got bad results. So far, we have been tested every day – and we’re still here!


Emily G. said...

Congratulations on making it to the cruise! And I am very impressed with how game your mother has been. Mine never would have schlepped as much as she has. Glad you took an afternoon to relax!

TracyK said...

Lovely photos. I am glad you got to a more relaxing part of the trip.

CLM said...

My mother never complained about traveling on the subway, even when faced with obsolete stations that didn’t have escalators or elevators, but we did both get tired. I had definitely overpacked so my rolling suitcase was very heavy. And we didn’t go to bed as early as we should have. I was busy blogging and occasionally doing my homework.

I also found the heavy duvets favored by the French a bit smothering. Only our hotel in Vezelay had top sheets, which I prefer in hot weather.