Friday, March 22, 2013

Back in the Saddle again.

What's that expression, once a teacher always a teacher?  We were, and we did, yesterday.  Our friend/guide Laurence Brun is also a teacher/trainer of English for the Community College here.  People who have been been displaced in their jobs (or cannot find work) can take English through this training program she teaches paid for by the government to help them get jobs in tourism or other jobs like that.  Yesterday was the last day of the class, and Jerry and I were invited to be "guinea pigs" for the students.  Since we are about as "french-less" tourist that you could find, we played our part marvelously!

First we met Laurence in Arles for lunch.  Hopped on the train in Avignon at 10:15 and arrived in Arles about 10:30.  Arles is a town that we stayed in last year, and has many Roman ruins and cute little medieval  streets.  We did some shopping across from the well preserved Roman Arena.
from the train station, Arles is on the Rhone river.

Look at that sky!  Provence sky.
This is where Van Gogh did his "sunny" paintings

Arles arena;  built in 50 AD by Romans.  Still used today

Holds 20,000

shopping mecca

We wound our way around the old town past the Roman Theater ruins where they still have performances.  

Pansies gone crazy.  These beds are everywhere at this time.

Then we found the Brasserie that we had agreed to meet Laurence.  Very nice, we sat outside in the 70 degree sunshine.  Laurence and I had the plat du jour (salad, plat, and dessert) and Jerry had a salad.

Tomato slices with mozzarella cheese slices.  No basil but freeize on top with balsamic vinegar

Jerry got the "man" salad

From top to bottom, seared duck liver, tomatoes, duck meat, almonds, olives, lots of kinds
of lettuce and herbs.  Fabulous

Laurence and our plat

lamb chops with red wine reduction, rosemary, and dauphine potatoes

Dessert was panacotte (vanilla pudding) with red fruit and of course, cafe espresso

Then it was off to Laurence's English class.  Rode in a car for the first time in a long time (except taxis).  It seemed odd, and we were glad she was driving!

We met the students at 1:30 and split the group in two.  Jerry got half of the group and I the other.  They were to "interview" us in English and then report back what they had learned about us.  They were full of questions about America and Iowa.  It was so much fun and they spoke very well. 
My very intelligent group

Jerry's group of women! (also very smart!)

After a short break the students had been giving demonstration/talks about various tourism spots.  The one for today was about the bloodless bull fighting, by a woman who said, "I like cowboys!"  There you go, Seth!  too bad you are already taken.  Her husband was a bull fighter, raccitteour (I know that is spelled wrong) and she explained all about how they do it.  The bulls wear 3 bows, into  the ring, pompoms on their horns and forehead and the racciteours (7 of them at a time) try to remove them.  The one that scores the most points wins.
If you look closely, there is a red bow in the center of the bull's
forehead, and 2 white pompoms on each horn, then the string that
holds it all together

demonstrating the "hook"  

Don't give up your day job, Jer

Picture she showed of the opening ceremonies

The emblem of the Camargue bull fights.  We were just there when we were by the sea.

The class

Laurence on the bottom right  Au Revoire, mes amies!

At 5:00 the class was done, so we packed up and got into Laurence's car to go to Tavel, north of Arles where she had another class at 7:00.  On the way we went by some wonderful sights.


Cherry trees

This town has this little water way running through it.  You can walk along it

This water is going to the old "community washing" site, where all the town's
women would come to wash clothes and gossip

clean water runs through this big stone tub all the time for the laundry

Tavel is famous for dry stacked stone walls.

Inside courtyard of a very nice Villa

Water well


Olives that were not picked in November

Laurence's second class was a 45 minute once a week class with 3 women (there are 4 but only 3 came last night.  The women are all adults that work in the wine industry so what did we do but have a lesson in white, rose, and red Cote du Rhone wine.  Learned a lot.  I can't believe we didn't get any pictures of the women though!!!!

At 7:45 Laurence drove us back through the dark night to Avignon and then she went home.  She is so sweet and knowledgeable.  She is a born teacher, and we are really enjoying our time with her.  We walked back from the city wall to our apartment (8-9 blocks) and then off to find dinner.  Jerry was hungry for Moules (mussels) again, so we went to Crazy Jerry's on the square.  No mussels but Steak tartar (raw beef with spices).  It was good, just cold, and a little weird that way.  Very rich.

I had a sushi roll (no picture) and this amazing chocolate lava cake

with white cream sauce, and chocolate ice cream.

It took both of us, but we did it.

Inside of Crazy Jerry's

We came back to the apartment and collapsed.  I slept like a rock but today is a rest up day for sure.  We have been out and had a Donner kebab for lunch and then I got my hair cut (boy, did it need it).  Just walked in and asked for a haircut.   It was a good one and done in 30 minutes!

That's it.  Going to rest today after I post.  Big film festival this weekend in Avignon so it will be crawling with people.  Tomorrow Laurence will pick us up at 9:00 AM and we are going tasting and to another market.  Can't wait.  A bientot!

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