The Pont d’Avignon (Pont St-Bénezet)

Cds 2005 06 29 10 12 29 OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP X450 D535Z C370Z Edit 2The Pont d’Avignon (Pont St-Bénezet), built between 1171 and 1185, is a famous medieval bridge in Avignon. It originally crossed the Rhone between Avignon and Villeneuve-les-Avignon. The original span is 900m, however over the years it suffered much damage due to floods. In 1668 it was finally abandoned, and now only four of the original 22 arches remain. You can still walk to the end of the bridge, where it dramatically stops in the middle of the river.

Cds 2005 06 29 11 52 14 OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP X450 D535Z C370ZThe name Saint Bénézet comes from, a local shepherd boy who was commanded by angels to build a bridge across the river. There is now a small chapel on the bridge, where he has been interred. I found the chapel a refreshing and cool break after the heat of the sun on the top of the bridge.

The bridge was very commercially important, since it was the only way to cross the river between Lyon and the Mediterranean Sea. This of course resolted in the merchants using it to transport their goods.

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The well-known song "Sur le pont d’Avignon" (On the bridge of Avignon) speaks about people dancing on the bridge of Avignon. However they more correctly danced sous le pont d’Avignon" (Under the bridge of Avignon). They would have danced beneath the arches of the bridge on the (the Ile de Barthelasse , the island in the middle of the river.

I have included the words below:

Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond
Les beaux messieurs font comm’ çà
Et puis encore comm’ çà

Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond
Les bell’ dames font comm’ çà
Et puis encore comm’ çà

Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond
Les jardiniers font comm’ çà
Et puis encore comm’ çà

Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond
Les couturiers font comm’ çà
Et puis encore comm’ çà

Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond
Les vignerons font comm’ çà
Et puis encore comm’ çà

Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond
Les blanchisseus’s font comm’ çà
Et puis encore comm’ çà

Busking

While wondering around Aegina Town we bumped into this busker, and he was fantastic. He was one of the few buskers in Greece not trying to make a hash of traditional Greek music, but he was just playing his own thing. I first noticed him when he was playing the Rain Song by Led Zeppelin. A well-known band, but not their most famous song. We chatted to him for a bit, and he says that he makes his living wondering around the island busking.

Just before we moved on, he played an even more obscure Led Zeppelin Song – Bron yr aur, named after the cottage owned by Robert Plant’s family (that was your trivia for the day), and written by Jimmy Page (the song that is – not the cottage. Jimmy Page could hardly have written the cottage).

I’ve also just realised that he was using a sieve as a hat to collect his tips – now that is a little bizarre!

Anyway, if you get hold of a copy of Physical Graffiti you can listen to the Led Zep song.
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Monument to the musicians

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This monument remembers the street musicians of Warsaw. Small bands like this one were very popular before World War 2, and today are hardly to be heard. The monument is in the Praga area, across the river from Old Town. Besides the monument, there is not much to see in Praga (at least not that I could find). But it made for a nice loop in one of my Warsaw runs.

If you have a Polish cell phone, you can SMS to 7141 with the text KAPELA and the tune number (from 1 to 100), and the band will play the tune (the track list is on the drum).

Distillery in the Deep South

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There is a new distillery in Town. Deep South Distillery opened its doors to the public mid-December, so of course we had to pop over for a visit. They have a small but well-equipped operation, you can have a short tour of the production area where you can see the pot and column stills, and then a generous gin-tasting in the bar area (if you ask nicely you might even be able to taste some rum).

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We sampled both their clear and pink gin; both are very different and both are very well made. You get both the tour and tasting for R60. Don’t go when you’re in a rush, because it is a leisurely tasting which includes experimenting with different additions to the gin’s to see how the flavour is affected (eg lemon peal, orange, thyme etc).

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Of course we came home with a bottle of both the pink and clear gin, and have been enjoying some wonderful experimentation with some fantastic gin’s in the evenings. Make some time and pop down to the Deep South in Kommetjie. You can find them here on Facebook, and their phone number is 021 783 0129.

Pistachio nuts, anybody?

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If you want some pistachio nuts, this is the place to come for. Aegina port is full of these nut shops, selling pistachio nuts in every form. Salted, unsalted, in ice-cream, in honey, in biscuits, small bags, big bags. You just can’t get away from pistachio nuts. Lois and I are certainly not complaining – they are my favorite nuts, and Aegina has thousands of pistachio nut trees. The trees grow on just about every street corner (the other corners have olive trees growing on them), and every shop sells nuts grown “from our family trees on the island”.

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