03 Aug 2008
Bonjour from Avignon, France!
Avignon is just as quaint and romantic as you may have heard. With its towering trees and cobblestone streets, it is great just for leisurely strolls. This was a perfect choice for starting our trip after the long journey.
Our definition of first night sightseeing was to have a dinner at a lovely outdoor restaurant right in front of the Palace of the Popes (see below) while sipping on local wine. Then we returned to the hotel to crater for the evening.
Prevailing sleep theory on long international trips is that to acclimate quickly, you want to set your clock to the new time, force yourself to stay up to a reasonable hour (their time), get a good night’s sleep, and wake-up, ready to roll.
That is silly and just isn’t reality for most people. If you can pull it off then you are lucky.
We could have slept all day but forced ourselves to get up at 2:30 pm or we would have no chance of sleeping tonight. Now we all feel great and rested. I strongly recommend that this is the proper method to begin a trip.
Tip - It is ok to miss a couple hours of sightseeing. This is supposed to be a vacation. It is even more important for business trips, especially as you get older. When crossing several time zones going east, it is imperative not to have business meetings first thing the next morning if you want to be at top performance.
Avignon is a quaint city on the left bank of the Rhone River in southeastern France, about an hour inland from Marseilles. By far the major attraction here is the Palace of the Popes. Several popes and antipopes lived here for about 100 years, starting in 1309 when Pope Clement V decided to move the papacy here from Rome.
For those of you who don’t know don’t know the expression antipope (I was in that group until today), that was somebody who declared himself as the rightful pope, and probably had several cardinals as supporters, but was not accepted as such by the Roman papacy.
The only hotel to stay here is the Hotel d’Europe. It is the perfect charming hotel that fits right into this city. Our Presidential Suite, 302, (believe me it is not that extravagant) is roomy, has a couple nice terraces and a view over rooftops of the top of the main cathedral. It could use a bit more air conditioning, but that is my opinion all over Europe.
FYI – for decades Europeans have been much more energy efficient than Americans. This is in part because we are a wasteful group and also because energy has always been very costly here. One thing that you will find in Europe are light switches in public areas; even in the vestibule, right off the elevator, of nice hotels like ours, where lights turn-on for just a minute or so and then turn off again.