21 June 2009

Getting in and out of the Geneva airport was easy. Customs took about 15 minutes and then we were off to find the train station. Being disoriented from lack of sleep, being in a new town, and not speaking French, it took us about 20 minutes to find the train station and get boarded. The Geneva airport isn't the main TGV stop, so we had to take a 5 minute ride on a local train into the city center, where we had to wait 2 hours for the TGV to Lyon.

While in Geneva, we had croissants and café at the Café de la Gare. Jackie wasn't really prepared for coffee prepared that way, but by the end of the week, she was used to it. The train to Lyon rambled through the hills around Geneva, so it never really got up to TGV speeds. But, it was just warm enough and rocked back and forth enough that we both nodded off a bit. The Lyon train station was pretty hectic, but we were able to get to our Avignon train easily enough. I managed to sleep most of the way from Lyon to Avignon.

We arrived in Avignon on the heels of Le Mistral. The Mistral is a wind that just beats the tar out of Provence. Coming from Oklahoma, it doesn't seem that big of a deal, but it's definitely more violent than the winds we get back home. It took us a while to find the Avis rental car counter from the Avignon TGV because we walked out the wrong doors. We were about to walk the 2 miles into Avignon center, when I stopped to ask a bus driver (using very bad French) where the Avis desk was. After a few rounds of hand-waving, I was able to convey what I needed and he pointed me to the correct door.

The trip from Avignon to St. Remy was pretty uneventful. Other than the fact that the Garmin Nuvi took us through some novel routes to get away from the TGV, going through some areas that we probably wouldn't (or shouldn't) have gone through on our own. This did allow me to get accustomed to roundabouts before getting into the flow of heavy traffic.

We arrived at our B&B about 4 pm on Sunday. The woman who runs the place is an ex-pat from California, who's lived in France since the early 1970's. She could tell that we were tired, but needed some nourishment. After showing us our room, she brought us a bottle of wine, some tapanade, and crackers for us to regain our strength. Lovely woman. In return, I presented her with 2 cans of my favorite spices from the US. If you ever find yourself in St. Remy, I can definitely recommend their B&B, even if it is a little off the beaten path. St. Remy is so small, that being off the beaten path doesn't really present any problems–the city center is a 15 minute walk from their B&B.

The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out on the patio, drinking wine, and eating the tapanade. As the evening began, we drove into the "center" of St. Remy and found the local market. We bought some bottled water and snacks for the next few days. Our body clocks were so off from the travel, so we just snacked in our room and went to bed around 10 pm.

Culture shocker: Pay toilets with an attendant. I think I prefer paying €0.50 to have a clean bathroom than taking my chances in a US airport or train station. Plus, it's more difficult to "meet new friends" this way. Yeah, I definitely prefer the privacy.

Tomorrow – Aix-en-Provence. If you want to skip all the talk and see the pics, just browse over to my Photo site.