Saturday, August 07, 2010

Trip Reflections: My week in Aix-en-Provence with Picasso (a year ago)

A year ago today, on August 5th, 2009, I was wrapping up my time in Aix-en-Provence in France, and preparing to move onto Paris the following day. I had spent a full week in Aix, and it really was lovely. A vacation from my vacation, I suppose.

I had splurged on a lovely apartment for a week, on a tiny street right in the heart of the old town. Splurge, because it had cost me more for that week than what my accomodations had cost me for a month most other places on my trip. And splurge because I had a huge 1 bedroom apartment, complete with a soaker tub (though I never used it, too hot).

The reason for the splurge was that, magically, this week that I had left open in the first 6 months of my trip, I discovered corresponded with a special Picasso exhibit in Aix. Once I learned that, the deal was sealed. Hence, the splurge.

The Picasso exhibits still bring me my fondest memories from my trip to Aix, they really were wonderful. The highlight were these really cool films I got to see of him painting... really, except for some short moments, you see the work Picasso is creating, and not him. Some kind of set up with an early movie camera and a backlit canvas or something. It was truly amazing, and totally captivating. And that was the first time I had seen his pottery, very cool stuff.
I managed to find one of those clips on YouTube, it`s an excerpt from `Le Mystere Picasso`. (enjoy!!!)
I learned so much more about Picasso and his work than I knew before (and giving some heart to my mission to "follow Picasso through Europe") and it confirmed to me just how satisfying it is to arrange a trip around something special like that. If it hadn't been for Picasso, I probably wouldn't have discovered the gem that is Aix.

Today I can laugh about the crisis and antics that heralded my arrival in Aix. From fruitless wanderingsin the heat with my already-too-heavy-backpack in Marseille to locate the bus to Aix, and the strap of that pack breaking for good when I got off the bus in Aix, just before the long walk to my place... to the comedy of errors that left me unable to phone my contact to advise them of my arrival (phone didn't work in France, public payphones only took European credit cards, no one would lend me a phone), and my relief when a shop owner took pity on me, helped me reach my contact and hallelujah! when I got my keys.

In case that needs any further emphasis, picture an exhausted to the bone travel-weary girl, sitting on the doorstep of my building, hot, hungry, thirsty, tired and really needing to pee, with a broken pack at her side, ready to crack.... trying to laugh, telling myself that it would all work out, and that this was all just part of the adventure... heh.

My other fondest memories are of two bands I saw playing in the streets of Aix. It`s like I can still hear them now... and I can definitely see them in my mind`s eye. And I remember the pizza guy, he was so cool.

Not sure that I`ll ever return to Aix, though I did love it there. It`s just that there are so many other places I have yet to see in the South of France, if I do make it back there, I imagine my attentions will be focused elsewhere. I do highly recommend Aix as a travel destination though. I had an awesome time there.

If you want to see my full post from that time, see My week in Aix wraps up.

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