December 11, 2003 GMT
South of France

Hello all !!!!

Currently in Villenueve Loubet just outside of Nice in the South of France. Small town of 11000 or so with the worst drivers and traffic jams I have seen for such a small town. I can't imagine what must go one during the summer. Scary really.

Anyway, to back up a little, when last we left you we were in Perpignan near the Spanish border. We stayed for 4 or 5 days getting to know the town and such. I took some day trips up towards the mountains which were a ton of fun. I am not going to try and remember the road numbers so you will have to come over and discover them yourself. The roads were empty of cars, twisty, up and down hills, went by castles and chateaus. Perfect.

Only one odd thing about Perpignan was the birds. Starlings. At 5 o'clock every evening they came back from there day jobs to roost in the tall trees of the town. Not just a few birds but hundreds of thousands, they blocked the sun out. When we first saw them from the window of our nice family run hotel, Danette and I were astonished. The trees were bending under the weight of all the birds !!! Bizarre. Thought we were in a Hitchcock flick. Went out the next morning to find the bike covered in bird shit ........ not impressed. Still more unimpressed to be crapped on ourselves during the evening strolls around the town.

Bloody birds.

Moving on, we stayed a few nights in the city of Avignon, that has a bridge, that has a famous song written about it that I have never heard of. Danette was able to fill me in by singing the song over and over.....
Weird thing is that the bridge does not actually cross the river, it stops about halfway across. Of course the town has taken advantage of the fame and charges a fee just to stand on the bridge, that does not cross the river. Go figure. I think I am getting bitter.

Avignon is a really nice town. The old section is surrounded by the old city walls that were built to protect the town. Very cool. Inside the walls is a very busy city. Lots of cool shops and places to eat. There is a very old palace on a hill that was the home of the Popes at one time. Huge place with a large square in front.

There is a weird vibe about the main street in the old section. Lots of young folks , mostly guys of north Afican descent, hanging around looking rather intimidating. Lots of police also hanging around. bad combo apparently. We were walking along a street, like say Robson street, when sirens and noise erupt. We are trying to see what is going on as the crowd thickens. More police are trying to get through. The young guys are yelling at the police and trying to hold them up from getting to the scene of whatever is going on. Danette and I are caught up against a wall in a big crush of people as we are watching and trying to move away. Police car tries to get past the crowd, guy reaches to the car and opens the passenger door yelling at the cop driving. Large cop comes and pulls young guy into the midst of the rest of the cops and rough him up a little. I am thinking, okay that was fun, but can I get out of here please. All this happened about 8 feet away from us and in a space of only seconds. The crowd, seeing their buddy getting the business from the police are really angry, yelling and screaming. Danette and I are still trapped in the crowd and can't really move. Next thing you know little cop pulls out his pepper spray and from about 10 feet hits the crowd, and us with it. The crowd breaks and runs from the fumes. Danette and I are coughing and our eyes are watering as we fumble down the street. This whole scene takes about 20 seconds from start to finish; shocking speed. Anyway, nothing else occurs and we get ourselves back to semi normal. Don't let this cloud your view of Avignon, it really is a great town that we both enjoyed.

I loved the whole incident if you are reading Paul !!!

Just outside Avignon is a place called Pont du Gard. A roman aquaduct that crosses a river. Very interesting. Graffiti carved into the bridge from the 1700's.

Skipping ahead a little brings us to V. Loubet. We are staying in a Gite. Basically it is a self contained one bedroom basement suite in a guys house. Cheap but basic is the deal. We have a gas stove, small fridge, and a microwave for making pipocas. Look it up. No tv in this place which is fine with me as there is nothing on but Hercule Poirot in french and soccer. Oh yeah and bad variety type shows, singers then jugglers then dancers. All with commentary in between acts from the guests on the couch. Screaming fans complete the picture. I don't get it.

Anyway we will be in the Gite until December 27th and then into Nice for 5 days through New Years. Lots of reading and riding between now and then.


If you don't split lanes on your motorbike here people look at you funny.

Posted by Patrick Harkness at 03:18 PM GMT

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