Monday, September 08, 2008

All during the long winter of delays on the house due to bad weather; throughout the busy spring of delays on the house due to the bad weather; and into the summer moving in with the hard work on finishing details, I’ve heard you wondering, “Will and Fritz, is your life really all hard labor and NO vacation?” Well now I can reveal that there IS a vacation planned for us and that it’s coming very soon.

Later this month, we fly to Marseilles, France where we spend a day and a night seeing the city a bit and adjusting to European time. The next day, we take a train for about half an hour to
Avignon where we meet out friends from Denmark, and see the town:

The famous Roman Bridge is bottom left and the hulking Papal Palace, the largest surviving complete Gothic palace in the world, is upper right.

The next morning, we board a Viking riverboat and begin an eight day cruise up the Rhône to Lyon, where the boat joins the Saône and takes us into the heart of Burgundy. Among others, we’ll see these towns along the way:

Arles, with it’s famed Roman Arena in virtually perfect condition (center bottom) and theater of which only the seating survives (lower left):

Tournon and unchanged medieval
Viviers, in the foothills of the Alps:

Vienne, with a large Roman district including a complete Roman temple to Augustus and Livia, a forum and a largely intact theater:

Lyon, on a peninsula between the Rhône and the Saône with a famed Gallo-Roman Museum built over the remains of a handful of Roman townhouses and many Carolingian churches and other buildings:

Beaune, with a trip deep into the Burgundy vineyards, and
Chalons-sur-Saône which, among its other distinctions, was the site of the victory by Roman General Aetius that stopped the Huns’ advance and sent them retreating back East:

When the cruise ends, we’ll all fly to Copenhagen for four days at our friends’ place and our favorite activity in Denmark—visiting old historic sites and ancient buildings of which they have a gratifyingly large number. Then we go on to Amsterdam for four days to visit with Fritz’s niece, her husband and children, and then we fly back home.

Since we’ve been working on the house full tilt since June, getting away will be a nice break. There was so much work that summer seemed to race by—Labor Day actually caught me by surprise when it arrived. I’ve been through Provence before and am looking forward to being there again, and to seeing Fritz’s reaction—-this magical region of France will all be new to him.


There was a little talk last week on Ted’s The Neighbors Will Hear about how families deal with telling their children about sex, and about how they treat sex in general. Here’s my contribution to the discussion:

My father kept threatening to have a "heart to heart talk" with me at intervals over a period of about eighteen months. I knew what he was getting at but he, highly decorated WWII bombardier who had taken out oil fields, ball bearing plants and train switching yards from the Netherlands to Roumania that he was, never had the guts to get down to it.

I eventually went into the public library, pulled out the encyclopedia, looked up Reproduction, Human and drank deeply. The next time he said we'd have that heart to heart "next weekend" I told him I had it covered and that he was off the hook. A happier man you never saw.

My mother's big advice when I was packing for college, delivered in grave and very stern tones, was "no decent woman wants a second-hand husband." As this was the 1960s, I was mightily amused--and I was on a different track anyway.


The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush AND Dan Quayle

<<>> What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.

A true European Vacation! I hope it doesn't end up like in the movie. It looks amazing. I can see the two of you perched on the deck enjoying the ride. Remember me there, would you??
sounds like a lovely trip and I can't wait to hear how it goes. which reminds me -- I believe you once posted your secret for avoiding jet lag and I promptly forgot what and where it was. Could you kindly repost? thank you!
I am mad-jealous; I would love to see Avignon if only to see the palace and have the local wine.
So are you renting a penichette? We've got the brochures, and it looks marvelous.
Lewis--Honestly, who could forget you? We think of you often and will do so in Europe, I promise.

Liz--I will write you, but it's called NoJetLag and is a New Zealand herbal product that's sold in places like Whole Foods and GNC. Taken every two hours (except for times when you're asleep on the plane) it leaves you refreshed and without any speedy feeling when you arrive.

spo--Avignon is a true delight, particularly during the Festival when the real fun is at the Festival-Off a huge variety of art and performance events from around the world.

Torn--not a penishette (although we were hoping to stay in Avignon on a French river barge that had been converted into a chic B&B--but it's no longer in operation). We'll be on a Viking Cruises boat.

We may spend a week some time on a rented penichette, aka an Erie Canal boat that can be taken out by anyone who wants to explore the canal and its lakes, sleeps up to four and is surprisingly reasonable.
Will - that trip on the Rhone sounds wonderful. I hadn't realised that such tours existed, though I should have. Something else to add to the list!
Southern France is one of my favorite places. When you visit Avignon be sure to sing "Sur le pont, d'Avignon, l'on y danse, l'on y danse, sur le pont, d'Avignon, l'on y danse tout en ronde." and don't forget to visit the Roman Aqueduct at Nimes!
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