Monday, June 21, 2010

Joe-7 I now know why the Popes went to Avignon

Avignon served as the residence of the Pope for most of the 14th century. During the time the Papacy resided in Avignon, nine Popes where elected and reigned. We visited it on June 19th 2010, and it is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in my life. The day started out as I slept pass my alarm. Fortunately I still woke up with plenty of time to walk over to the bus stop and meet up with the six other students who were going on the trip. At this time we were a little concerned because it was beginning to rain and there was no sign of Jeremy. Within a few minutes Jeremy had arrived and we began boarding the bus. As we sat down, we began to have another worry; Dr. Pelley was not there. The bus began to back out, but we as well as the Singapore group both called out that we were missing someone.
Fortunately both Dr. Pelley and the Singaporean arrived at close to the same time and we were off. The trip took a little longer than an hour and a half with a short stop at a BP gas station for coffee and toilet break. I was considering buying something from there but two things stopped me; the prices were too high and it’s BP who is destroying the gulf right now so I decided to not help them. When we arrived we went right from the bus to a nearby field where lavender was growing in front of the historical bridge of Avignon. It was this early that the beauty of the site struck me. The lavender growing in front of the old and beautiful bridge over the calm Rhone River it was a very picturesque scene.
From there we walked around some more and saw more beautiful views. It was during this time that my admiration for one of the people in the tour group grew. She was an Irish woman who was there with two friends. She had decided that it was time for a vacation and went. She was also blind. I was struck by her courage because in her situation I would not have gone.
While there we visited a church and the Palace of the Popes. The church was the Pope’s cathedral and was right next to the Palace. It was the most impressive of the churches I have seen during my stay in France. While the altar area was beautiful, the true awesomeness came from the side areas. On one, it was a museum that had different object and a collection of Papal vestments. Others were little chapel areas that were decorated and where all very striking. One that stood out for me was one of Mary. In front of the church there was a large crucifix scene with two women on each side of Jesus. It was impressive from right in front of the statue but more so from the courtyard that was down below.
The Palace of the Popes was overwhelming. As it is limited in space and with the large numbers of people coming through, we had to use audio guides. The audio guide was a handheld device that you punched in the number for the place you where in and listened. It had to be held to the ear, so it looked like everyone was on the phone. About two thirds of the way through I noticed it could work with headphones so I put mine in. The made it easier to listen. While the Palace of the Popes was interesting, there was way too much information crammed in to really remember much of it.
After the Palace we had free time until we left. In the middle of the day we
had broken for lunch with the eight of us sitting down at the first place we saw. Most of us ended up eating magret de canard which is duck. It was amazing. It was so good that the next day in Montpellier I ordered it for lunch again.

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