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The Rhone through Provence

Avignon

sunny 75 °F

After a short cruise after dinner, we arrived at Avignon, the home of the French Popes and their spectacular palace.

Between 1309 and 1377, during the Avignon Papacy, seven successive popes resided in Avignon and in 1348 Pope Clement VI bought the town from Joanna I of Naples. Papal control persisted until 1791 when during the French Revolution it became part of France. The city is now the capital of the Vaucluse department and one of the few French cities to have preserved its city walls. The historic centre, which includes the Palais des Papes, the cathedral and the Pont d'Avignon, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 because of its architecture and importance during the 14th and 15th centuries. The medieval monuments and the annual Festival d'Avignon (commonly called: "Festival In d'Avignon") and its accompanying Festival Off d'Avignon - one of the world's largest festivals for performing arts, have helped to make the town a major centre for tourism.

The Palais des Papes was once a fortress and palace, the papal residence was a seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century. Six papal conclaves were held in the Palais, leading to the elections of Benedict XII in 1334, Clement VI in 1342, Innocent VI in 1352, Urban V in 1362, Gregory XI in 1370 and Benedict XIII in 1394. The Palais is actually two joined buildings: the old palais of Benedict XII, which sits on the impregnable rock of Doms, and the new palais of Clement VI, the most extravagant of the Avignon popes. Together they form the largest Gothic building of the Middle Ages. It is also one of the best examples of the International Gothic architectural style.

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After lunch we traveled about 30 minutes to the Pont du Gard - a spectacular Roman Aqueduct. The Pont du Gard is an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge built in the first century AD to carry water over 50 km (31 mi) to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). It crosses the river Gardon near the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard in southern France. The Pont du Gard is the tallest of all Roman aqueduct bridges, as well as one of the best preserved. The bridge has three tiers of arches made from Shelly limestone and stands 48.8 m (160 ft) high. The aqueduct formerly carried an estimated 40,000 m3 (8,800,000 imp gal) of water a day over 50 km (31 mi) to the fountains, baths and homes of the citizens of Nîmes. The structure's precise construction allowed an average gradient of 1 cm (0.39 in) in 182.4 m (598 ft). It may have been in use as late as the 6th century, with some parts used for significantly longer, but lack of maintenance after the 4th century led to clogging by mineral deposits and debris that eventually stopped the flow of water.

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Posted by rpickett 16:04 Archived in France Tagged avignon Comments (1)

The Rhone through Provence

Arles

sunny 70 °F

We boarded the TVG train to Arles at noon for the 4 hour 15 minute ride to Arles. Because of its speed, the countryside flew by. When we got to Arles, the AMAKristina was tied up right across the parking lot from the train station - a short walk!
The TGV ( high-speed train acronym) is a French- designed self-propelled train powered by catenary and powered by electric motors , regularly reaching a cruising speed of 320 km/h on high-speed lines. Late in the afternoon, we had our welcome reception and safety briefing and then a wonderful welcome aboard dinner.

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We spent the night in Arles and set out on our first tour of the day - a walking tour of Arles where Van Gogh spent a year painting.
Arles is a coastal city and commune in the South of France, a subprefecture in the Bouches-du-Rhône department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, in the former province of Provence. The city has a long history, and was of considerable importance in the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. The Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981 for their testimony to the history of the region. Many artists have lived and worked in this area because of the southern light,[further explanation needed] including Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Jacques Réattu, and Peter Brown. The Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles from 1888 to 1889, and produced over 300 paintings and drawings during his time there.

The Arles Amphitheatreis a Roman amphitheatre in the southern French town of Arles. Two-tiered, it is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city which thrived in Ancient Rome. The towers jutting out from the top are medieval add-ons. Built in 90 AD, the amphitheatre held over 20,000 spectators of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. Today, it draws smaller crowds for bullfighting during the Feria d'Arles as well as plays and concerts in summer.nnIn 1981, Arles Amphitheatre was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with other Roman and medieval buildings of the city, as part of the Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments group. We set sail for the 41km cruise to Avignon at 6:00pm tonight.

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Posted by rpickett 13:47 Archived in France Tagged arles Comments (1)

The Rhone through Provence

Paris

sunny 72 °F

I am back to Europe along with a childhood friend to cruise with AMA Waterways on the only river in Europe that I have not cruised on - the Rhone. I met up with my buddy at Dulles Airport for our flight to Paris. United has opened a spectacular Polaris Club in terminal C for international business class travelers. The only club that I have been in which is better is the Qatar Air club in Doha, which is huge.

We arrived in Paris early in the morning and checked into our hotel which is part of the Gare de Lyon train station. After a shower and a nap, we headed to the Eiffel Tower - the appropriate place to start an adventure in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower is a wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Locally nicknamed "La dame de fer" (French for "Iron Lady"), it was constructed from 1887 to 1889 as the centerpiece of the 1889 World's Fair. Although initially criticized by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, it has since become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower received 5,889,000 visitors in 2022, up by 197 percent from 2021, when numbers dropped due to the COVID virus. The Eiffel Tower is the most visited monument with an entrance fee in the world: 6.91 million people ascended it in 2015. It was designated a monument historique in 1964, and was named part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

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Posted by rpickett 11:22 Archived in France Tagged paris Comments (1)

In Search of the Northern Lights

Photo Album

Click this link for the photo album of this wonderful trip.

Click Alaska January 2023

Posted by rpickett 18:11 Archived in USA Tagged alaska Comments (0)

In Search of the Northern Lights

Borealis Basecamp

sunny 2 °F

We were picked up at the Pikes Waterfront Lodge at 3:00pm and after picking up others around Fairbanks we arrived at Borealis Basecamp just after it got fully dark at about 4:15pm. We checked in to our rather comfortable igloo and proceeded to dinner at a very good restaurant that is part of the Basecamp complex (and the only place within 45 minutes!) We went to bed and were hopeful that we would see the lights, but the projections were not favorable, although the sky had cleared and the stars were out.

Our day today was a bunch of fun - snowmachining and dogsledding. I have snow machined before in Yellowstone in the winter but had never been dogsledding which is a passion in this part of Alaska---many many professional and amateur mushers. The temperature was a relatively mild 2 degrees, and the outfitters made sure we were dressed appropriately providing any additional gear needed for cold weather protection.

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And we did get the call at 6:00am that there were some lights, but very faint. Maybe we will have better luck tonight!

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Posted by rpickett 02:49 Archived in USA Tagged borealis basecamp Comments (1)

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