March 16, 2013
Upon my first visit to Arles I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. With Sally and I both retired and now laying down our “bucket list”, we realized something. It’s easy to MAKE a bucket list, it’s the execution part that is difficult. The Van Gogh tours in Arles were our, well my, number one choice and at the very top of my list for the last 5 years of revisions we’ve both been making. Rome, Australia, and Machu Pichu round out the list. That’s just the travel category.
Thankfully my wife allowed my first choice to take priority, considering I was the bread winner for the last several years. My love of art started when I was a young boy, and my father took me to the Met in New York City. When I first arrived, I was extremely upset once I realized there were no toys. In fact it wasn’t until many years later when I was in high school art class that I truly realized the gift my father had given me. God’s delays, truly are not God’s denials.
Van Gogh’s work struck a chord with me like no other. I’m no romantic (my wife might disagree never to this) and I don’t cry at Broadway shows (The theatre was just dusty at Les Mis’ in 1998). But I firmly believe that everyone’s soul is programmed to be touched in such a way of inspiration by the works, be it music, song, dance, or art, of other men or women. It’s God’s way of transforming his love on earth, and we feel this through emotion. Not terribly rational for the scientific mind, but then again there aren’t many great scientists creating great art either.
We arrived in France jet lagged but smiles on our face. Frequent flier miles helped, as we had upgraded to first class with my left over business miles. If you can ever make this trip via first class I assure you it is worth every cost. In this case it was worth every cost to my previous employer.
We quickly gathered our bags and caught a taxi to Arles, as our first walking tour was on schedule for that day. I still owe my wife a favor for booking us that solid. The smell in the air and the glass of wine we had to kick off our adventure were magical. As the tour began we learned of all the placards perfectly located where Van Gogh’s easel was set up to create his masterpieces. To stand in the exact same spot where “Starry Night” was brushed, or where “Evening Café” was painted was simply incredible. We took a stroll over Trinquetaille bridge where violins played and we glanced at a reproduction of “Staircase of the Tinquetaille Bridge” as well as along the Rone River Quay.
It wasn’t until we stepped off the bus at our hotel that things took a turn for the slightly worse. Sally blames it on the jet lag and vino, but stepping off the tour bus she twisted her ankle and immediately told me “It’s bad.” Not something you ever want to hear your wife say, even in your home country, about anything. Our concierge say what happened and was quick to his feet, directing us to the nearest medical center. My thoughts were focused on her injury just being a slight “twist”, as twist was the only word I could come up with in my limited medical vocabulary that sounded like it would heal in 24 hours. Not because we had our Van Gogh walking tour at 5pm the next evening, but more, because…we had our Van Gogh walking tour the next evening.
If this was the first stop on our bucket list, this was going to be a long ride. We brought Sally to the medical center and 25 minutes later my fears were put to rest. Just a twist and nothing ice and a few pain killers couldn’t handle. The Xrays and additional tests however quickly entered my mind after hearing the good news, as I had no idea what the bill could possibly come to. It turns out Sally’s Medigap Insurance paid for 80 percent of her medical bills. Not too shabby for France.
We agreed on a bottle of wine to take back to our hotel room after this first crazy day in Arles, and we (More like I) agreed on an early wake up call to begin her rapid physical therapy as we had a lot more walking to do in Arles!
The next day thankfully it was as if nothing had happened (Viva le France!) and we were off and running after a wonderful breakfast at the café outside our hotel. We headed to a small courtyard called Espace Van Gogh and it was lovely. Recreated to look exactly like it did when Van Gogh painted “Le Jardin de la Maison de Sante a Aries”, it contains fantastic tributes from contemporary artists that truly compliments it’s beauty. With Roman ruins in the background, it was quite the setting for our perfect 2nd day in Arles. Injury free!