mercredi 23 septembre 2009
Last weekend we decided to do some exploring. My teaching post for this school year is in a town called Venelles, which is only 11 minutes away by car, according to google maps. So we figured, why not see if we can bike it?
Me + biking is, I should note, a somewhat surprising combination. I am extremely maladroite and shun most physical activity. Josh convinced me to get a bike. . . and now he's trying to convince me to ride it instead of walk alongside it. Which I did, for about half of our trip to Venelles. It turns out that to get from Aix to pretty much anywhere north of the city, you have to go up a huge hill. The local Gauls (pre-Roman inhabitants of France) lived at the top of the hill (the Plateau d'Entremont) and they definitely had a great view:
But they weren't trying to ride a bike up the hill, in traffic. You see, it turns out that all the roads between here and Venelles are pretty major thoroughfares. They're also lined with the plane trees that Napoleon planted to keep his troops marching in the shade as they moved around the country. This basically means that as I wobble along the shoulder of the road, I could either fall to the left and get hit by a car, or fall to the right and run into a tree. Strangely I find the trees comforting. The idea of crashing into one of these beautiful old trunks has a nice earthy warmth to it.
Well, we finally made it to Venelles, and it's a cute town.
There's a sign just outside town that marks Venelles as a "ville fleurie," which I guess means they have a lot of flowers. We didn't see many flowers, but we did spot grape vines hanging over fences:
These days I keep catching whiffs of a smell that's like a cross between wine, vinegar, and grape juice. And here's the cuplrit:
Crushed grapes rotting underfoot.
"Pardonez-moi, Monsieur le chien, savez-vous ou est le centre ville?"
lundi 21 septembre 2009
lundi 14 septembre 2009
A week before we left the US I took a box of books to the Paperback Exchange on Jonestown Road in Harrisburg to pick up some picture books for teaching here in France. I had a bit of extra store credit so I decided to treat myself to something for the plane ride. Well, I’d been wondering about this Twilight series . . . 24 hours later I was hooked. A huge chunk of the second book takes place in a town in Italy called Volterra. I assumed it was fictitious until I started thinking, boy, that name sounds familiar. . . and then I realized I’ve been there!
I don't have many pictures of Volterra because A) I was chasing Steve, who decided to take off on his own and didn't have a cell phone, and B) I didn't know that Volterra was the vampire "royal city." Why wasn't that in my guidebook somewhere?!?!
Here's the town square of San Gimignano--exactly what I'd imagine for the Volterra in the book:
But to be fair, the piazza in Volterra looked a lot like this, too (I had to check to see which town this picture was taken in). In fact, most towns in this part of Tuscany look pretty much the same. Here's the only shot I have of the main Piazza in Volterra:
And just as important to Twilight readers as the piazza is that tiny, shadowy side street. . . here's one in S.G.:
This is in a museum in S.G. that I was too cheap to pay for. Steve took the picture on his way up one of the towers. S.G. is famous for its medieval towers. But back to Volterra.
I think this is a distance shot of the town square of Volterra (the place where that pivotal scene takes place) but I'm not sure because I was so hopelessly lost wandering around the town. I ended up at another round tower . . . this one part of a prison still in use today:
samedi 12 septembre 2009
Oh, and yup, that's a folding bike in the picture. Our new plan for around-town (and close outside town) transport. We got folding ones since they'll fit in the apartment and on airplanes better. And, of course, they're both orange.