Friday, October 01, 2010

Sur le Pont

I was away travelling a couple of times last month, but have been remiss in writing it up, so here's a brief roundup of where I got to.

My first trip at the start of the month was to Nice and was an actual holiday rather than my standard work trip (my girlfriend was there for a meeting, but I just tagged along). I got to spend the first few days relaxing in the Sun, wandering round the city (in particular the old town) and sitting on the beach. The was no lack of places to eat and in general the food was very good - I didn't take a note of anywhere in particular that we ate, but there were a lot of place round the Marche aux Fleurs.

After Nice we got the TGV up to Avignon (home the the famous pont) - there are some great views over the Côte d'Azur from the train, but despite the trains famed speed it has to go pretty slowly between Nice and Marseille before hitting the high-speed lines as it heads inland. We got to Avignon in the late afternoon and after getting our bearing's with a brief wander around the Palais des Papes managed to stumble across a great place for dinner. We found La Vache à Carreaux - a place that specialises in cheese and wine (so very French) - and the it was very, very nice. I had a duck dish with a manchego cheese sauce I'd definitely recommend to anyone.

The next day we went into the Palais des Papes and found out all about Avignon's 100-or-so years being the seat of Popes (and antipopes) - unsurprisingly it's a very impressive building with an interesting history and definitely worth a visit. We followed this with a trip to the famous bridge, although the room dedicated the song was closed. We then got a ferry across (part of) the Rhône and had a walk around Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.

The next day we started off with a trip to the Pont du Gard - a Roman aquaduct that's still in great condition. We then headed to Châteauneuf du Pape (which means new castle, rather than castle number 9 like we thought!) - the old Papal holiday home and now a famous wine region. It was excessively windy there, but there was a great view over the whole region and you could see back to Avignon. We got to do some wine tasting, but despite the fame of the wines (and the high price) we weren't too impressed by them (the Rose wine we had over dinner were very nice though). The for the afternoon we went to another very impressive Roman artifact - the theatre in Orange, which is one of the three best preserved Roman theatre in the world (although much of it has had to be restored and it's had a lot of uses over the last couple of millenia). Again it's a site that is well worth seeing, but the rest of Orange didn't seem to hold much else to do or see.

The next day we headed back Nice to fly home. We got to spend some more time by the beach, but were mainly surrounded by leathery old people wearing far to little. It was a very good holiday and the weather was great for the whole time - Provence and the Côte d'Azur will probably be getting a return visit at some point.

My other trip for the month was my first to Poland, but this time it was work trip with a collaboration meeting in Krakow. I didn't get to see much of the city, but what I did see was very nice. Food-wise there wasn't quite the refinement of the French cuisine - more of a meat and potatoes approach - but it was good and certainly very filling. I also found out the interesting story of the Wawel dragon.