Monday, July 15, 2013

Ahoy ! Port of Toulon, France......

Updates on the cruise shown on screen in our stateroom.

"Bonjour tout le monde!"

Well..... a little French to start the day. It means.... Good morning everybody...... if I am not mistaken ! Hahahaha...  A very early start today.  So excited and so looking forward.  Anyway, I was so happy because I survived the first night at sea.  No sea sick in fact I slept like a baby but in my mother's tounge we say "tidur macam pengantin" (slept  like a newlywed ).... ehemmmmmm!

After a heavy breakfast with fruits, cereal, bread, hard boil eggs, slices of smoked salmon and ended with a cup of coffee, we were all ready to conquer Toulon!  Our first port of call.  This is the one and only port in France that this cruise is docking!

Port of Toulon, France
A busy port
 MV Norwegian Epic from our cruise MV Norwegian Spirit.
Upon reaching the port we were greeted by the many dull grey colors ships of the French Navy compared to our colorful cruise ship. Toulon is the principal port for the France Navy and home for their aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle and her battle group plus nuclear attack submarines..... in total more than 60% of the tonnage of the French Navy are here in Toulon.  Well, that explained everything!

repair works??

French Naval Base in Toulon.

Toulon is situated in the Southeast tip of France and a large military harbour on the Mediterranean coast. Besides being the centre for naval, this city is important for fishing, wine making and manufacturing of aeronautical equiptments, maps, papers, tobacco, printing, shoes and electronic equipment. As we left the port, we past a multi-purposed stadium in Toulon known as Stade Mayol. It is home of RC Toulonnias, Toulon rugby team.

Stade Mayol
Most of the buildings in Toulon are new. What happened to the old ones? Well, most of the old buildings were destroyed in the World War ll with the bombings by the Allied Force when Germans occupied the south of France and planned to take over the French Naval base. Then French knew of the plan and  in order to avoid being captured, the French Fleet scuttled itself resulting the Germans  failed to capture the French fleet. The year was 1942.  Well a little bit of history is good!  Many died.  As many as 500 people and Toulon was devastated. Old buildings mostly are gone. What is left is preserve as memories of the past. War claims everything..... so sad!
The scuttling of the French ships.
New buildings in Toulon.
Preserving the old building  even if it is a small portion
 of what is left..
New buildings in Toulon.
We boarded the tour bus and with full of difficulties in pronouncing English words, the tour guide explained of the town that we are going to visit, Aix En Provence.  Aix was found by the Roman Consul Sextius Calvinus  in 123 BC.

The French tourist guide.
Aix is a university town. It is an educational center with many teaching and research institutes. It has several training college and a college of art and design. Besides that Aix holds hold two significant events yearly. It has several museums and art galleries like Museum of old Aix and Le Musee Granet which devoted to painting, sculpture and acheology of Aix.  Here and there you will see cathedrals which comes with their own history.

Aix Cathedral
One of the exposition in Aix.
What drew the Romans to Aix  was the thermal springs containing lime and carbonic acid and they built the Roman Baths and Spa.  The rich Romans built their houses in Aix to enjoy the weather and the scenery of the famous Mount St Victory which extends to 18kilometers long. The mountain is most celebrated because of it appearance in most of  Paul Cezanne's paintings who lived and died in Aix. 

@ Paul Cezanne and two of his famous paintings of Mount St Victoria.
 The Romans houses still stands, preserved and mostly used as hotels and shops that sells branded items.  We have to move around Aix by foot because the streets are so narrow for vehicles to pass through and furthermore it is made with cobblestone.... a nightmare for the cars!

The cobblestone street.
 It's location in south of France, by the river bank gives  it a warm climate.... a Mediterranean climate, not only attract the super power to concur Aix, but even produced many nobles like artists, musicians, architects, botanist, poets, and even attracted foreigners to be part of Aix.  Amazing to know how  surroundings played important part in producing such nobles.   Same goes to Pak Hamka, the famous novelist, a poet, a philosopher, a politician and an Ulama  from West Sumatera.  I visited his house which is now a museum overlooking the Lake Meninjau. With the paddy fields, chirping of the birds, the cool air and picturesque views. Ya Allah..... I can feel the peacefulness and calmness!  It must be those criteria that made him what he was.  Al Fatihah to Allahyarham Pak Hamka.  I was wondering what would I have been should I be born in such an environment.....emmmmmm just wondering but I love my country with all my heart.  Malaysia tanah tumpah darahku.....

@ Allahyarham Buya Hamka
@ Lake Meninjau
@ The house Hamka was born and raised and now a museum.

Walking around this beautiful small town with the summer heat is no joke....... tired, perspired but you see more.  Aix is known as the city of thousand fountains.  Among the many is a 17th century Fountain of the Four Dolphins which was designed by Jean-Claude Rambot.

Fountain of the Four Dolphins.
Resting at one of the thousands fountains in Aix.
As we were walking, we passed through an open air market place with lots of fruits, cheese,  fragrance sachets, beauty items, vegetables, decorations and so on - products of the locals.  I love the fruits especially the cherries and the berries most..... 

At the open air market.

In Aix, there were many beautiful Romans houses with big compounds and a beautiful gardens, scenery with rows and rows of trees, lots  more  fountains and many sidewalk cafes!  Well, time to get our feet to rest. We searched for cafes that have free wi-fi so we can connect to our love ones back home.  Everybody started loading photos and informing families about the feelings, experiences, expectations and hopes through different ways like Tango, Face time, Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat, LINE and just name it...we have it all!  As for me, my iPhone 5*** refused to get connected.  So I just sit at the cafe and imagining how the Romans built this town  and enjoyed their life to the fullest with the beautiful weather and the view of the majestic and famous mountain and not forgetting the Roman Baths. What a life it must have been! 

A house with big compound and garden
The roadside cafes and restaurants.

The main road with rows of  plane trees and cafe. It reminded me
of  our Taiping. The Roman houses are situated here. 
Do not get lost......where to? Mind your language!

See all of you in my next excursion in Port of Livorno (Italy). 

"Au revoir et merci"  (goodbye and thank you)...

***My iPhone 5.... the problem was my new housing casing covering the antenna which is all around the phone, making it not sensitive to connect!  That was what my son told me.  I laughed at myself!  Beautiful housing casing, but not practical ..... hahahhahahha.  So my friends, if you cannot get connected, do not change your phones but take off the housing!  I learnt my lesson well!  Thanks to my son Haji Azman.

@ whenever you see this sign @, it means I copied from google. Thanks Google!