We finished our stay in Provence with a bit of drama and adventure, not altogether pleasant! We finally decided that we had to head north toward storing Romy for the winter in Germany, and to do so we had to go around Arles, that lovely town full of Roman ruins and frequented very productively by Van Gogh.
We had spent the day before there and had left Romy on the fringe of town before walking into its warren of narrow streets. But the next day, recklessly trusting “Ms Garmin,” our GPS, we thought she would lead us around Arles on the way north. Wrong! Instead we found ourselves thrust into the city itself and soon lost in its increasingly narrow streets. Finally, just beyond the Hotel de Ville or City Hall, we could go no further.
The streets ahead were barely wide enough for a car and the corners would never permit Romy making a turn. We were trapped!
At the suggestion of a passerby, of which there were multitudes much to our humiliation, we parked Romy and were prepared to wait the three hours until a street fair ended. It was located the other side of the Place de la Republique and was blocking our only access to an avenue where we might escape. Instead, in about forty-five minutes, who appeared but two Federal Police officers willing to help extract us.
With their assistance we began the process by turning Romy around
and following them up the street, past the Hotel de Ville now on our right to the entrance to the Place de la Republique where one of the officers punched in the code to lower the barriers to allow us into the Place itself. They then escorted us across the large central square
and out the other side through another set of barriers.
At this point they bid us farewell amid our profuse thanks and directed us down the street to escape on a major avenue.
Rather than follow the same general route we had taken going south, we decided to head to the east towards the Alps and run up their foothills around Switzerland and to the German city of Freiburg. The drive was spectacular with hill towns not unlike those Tuscany is famous for scattered across the countryside. This one is Gordes,
and when we went into town we found it to be cobblestoned and steep and dominated by a weekly market. It is a wonderfully beautiful town, particularly with the ivy in its fall colors.
We drove on for another day on our way north, and as if a warning of the coming of winter, the Alps had a fresh coating of snow from the night before.
The end of the second day of driving ended in a lovely campground in Freiburg. The walk into the heart of the city along the river was colorful and filled with the sound of rushing water.
The city itself seemed to be run through with canals and filled with parks, squares and buildings dating from the 15th century, and because it is a university town, it is full of students and bicycles and beer gardens as well.
Most central is the cathedral and its huge square, which on Saturdays hosts an enormous street market. Given the closeness of the surrounding buildings it is hard to get a photo of the entire height of the cathedral.
But adorning its higher reaches is one of Europe’s best collections of gargoyles, a particular favorite of ours!
All in all, Freiburg qualified as one of those places we will come back to and spend much more time enjoying it.
Finally, we made our way north in a short day of driving to our dear friend Gina Kirnberger’s home outside of Frankfurt. We have not seen near enough of Gina and her family since we worked together in the ‘90’s but had an evening with her, son Leo and daughters Anna and Sophie, and were also able to spend our last evening in Europe with Gina close by Frankfurt airport, from which we flew on to Dubai and new adventures.