After most of yesterday on a train, I am back to seeing the sights on my own two feet. Welcome to Provence, a region in the southern part of France, and more specifically today, the city of Avignon. This little town has quite a bit of history attached to it as it is the only place other than Rome that a Pope has ruled from. From the early 1300's to the early 1400's the head of the Catholic Church (and toward the end of this time, one of the "heads" of the Catholic church) resided in Avignon. This was done for political reasons of course and also because of the instability of the Italian states at the time. Eventually, this mini schism of sorts ended and everything went back to the way it was, but during that time, you were looking at the focal point of Christnedom here in this little town.
After leaving the Palace behind I went to this spot immediately outside of the building. This is the Pont Saint-Benezet which is a bridge that used to (only goes halfway across now) span the Rhone River that runs through town. This unexpectedly turned out to be the highlight of Avignon. I got on this bridge, and for the first time on the trip I felt like it could have been 1000 years ago. Almost everything in view (except the cars of course) looked like something out of the history books. It was very cool. Little did I know that later in the day I'd have this sensation magnified by 100.
After this, I headed out of town and caught a bus to one of the most famous Roman ruins outside of Italy: The Pont du Gard. It is part of a 30 mile long aquaduct that the Romans built to supply water to the Provencial town of Nimes nearly 2000 years ago. This part is a bridge section that they had to construct to span the Gardon River. For over 150 years, this structure supplied up to 5 million gallons of clean drinking water a day to it's intended destinations. To give you an idea of it's size, it is the 2nd highest remaining Roman Ruin on the planet (the Coliseum is just 6 feet taller).
This was a cool point in the day. We were allowed to go down to the river bank (people even jump in if they want), so I just headed down, found a comfy rock, and listened to the current and admired the view. Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved Greek and Roman history and seeing this fine example up close has been one of the highlights of the trip.
Tomorrow is more Roman ruins in Provence. See you then.