Friday, August 12, 2011

The Start of a Week in Provence

My college friend of 35 years, Robin, called me from her home in Provence, France and said, "when are you coming to visit? Don't you have the time now? You simply must come." I begged off because I was hard at work learning Turkish and working on other projects. What is a girl to do, though, when your friend tries to call you three times in one day and says, "come!"  I had no choice. So off I went.
 I help out a representation of "The Kitchen Maid"
a famous Dutch masterpiece by
Johannes Vermeer (painted 1658)
There isn't a very direct way to get from Provence from Istanbul.  I flew first to Amsterdam, where I was able to experience an hours worth of my Dutch heritage.  In the very nice Amsterdam airport, there is a small gallery of paintings from the Rijksmuseum, the famous Dutch Art Museum full of Van Goghs.

Isn't that a fabulous idea - to have an art gallery in an airport? To share the very best of one's culture with people who are stuck in an building with no place to go?  I'm surprised there aren't similar art galleries in airports all over the world. Good job, Dutch people, you made me proud. And you made me want to come back.

From Amsterdam, I then flew to Marseilles.  It was an utterly gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky.  Southern France has the soft, balmy Southern California-type weather only without the pollution.  When the plane flew out over the Mediterranean and the Southern France coastline of majestic rocky fjords, it was simply breathtaking to take in the coastline, the sea, the sailboats and yachts, and the sun-washed city of Marseilles. I had no idea there was such a pretty, craggy coastline to Southern France.

I knew Robin would not be there right away to pick me up, having never once arrived on time to get me at any airport in the world. There is a comfort in knowing someone so well. I knew eventually she would show up and I would no longer have to loiter around the lobby, sneaking peaks at the amazing weather outside.

Robin and her husband live in Singapore now full-time where Robin has started a new job as a Senior International Government Affairs Advisor for a large oil company.  She has her hands full between her new executive position, two daughters, and her husband's health care. Robin's husband has been recovering the last couple years from the surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy involved with having a brain tumor.

While my friend Robin employs a terrific Filipino man to help her physically care for her 6'4" husband, I wanted to give my dear friend lots of love and appreciation and make sure someone was taking care of her. We had last seen each other in Prague when she came to visit for some serious girlfriend time and I dragged her to the Museum of Communism rather than letting her see the art she wanted to see (hey, she worked for the State Department then, I was doing my duty as an American citizen).
La Mourrade
Eventually, my beloved friend came to the airport and we packed ourselves off for the trip to Provence and her fairy wonderland home "La Mourrade."  Robin and Jim rent their home out much of the summer, when they do get to spend time there, they practically cry leaving the place, life is so beautiful there.
 My bedroom window
Overlooking the terrace, the Lubéron,
and the spectacular mountain painted by Cézanne,
Mt. Sainte-Victoire
Along with their spectacularly-sited La Mourrade provencal home, this is the beautiful lunch Robin had prepared that greeted me upon arrival:
 Oysters on the Half Shell
Al Fresco
A fresh, healthy Provençal salad
 Grilled Sardines Stuffed With Lemon
A life-long friend
is a blessing.
I am truly grateful for
my friend Robin.
Lemon sorbet
with Black Currants
and Cassis
and a sprig of homegrown mint
A beautiful cappuccino to end the meal
Later that night, while enjoying champagne poolside, Robin asked, "Now aren't you glad you came to Provence?" Yes, I was.  It was the start of an amazing week.
Poolside at La Mourrade

6 comments:

Michael Carøe Andersen said...

Wow that looks amazing. What a place to have for inviting friends over :)

autumnmiss said...

Hi from a new viewer of your blog. What a fantastic place it looks, thanks for sharing it.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm new to your blog and dropped by from the Provence Post after seeing your comment about your visit to Provence.

The south of France is one of our favorite places in all of the world and we were fortunate enough to spend two glorious months there several years ago. If we had been introduced to Provence earlier in our lives, we probably would have moved there and remodeled an old Mas instead of following our dream of living on a tropical island in the Atlantic.

I'm so glad you had a wonderful time. I hope you'll write more about your trip.
Sam

Sher said...

Hi Karen,
So great you were able to get away and see your friend again! And what a beautiful place she and her husband have! Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Marcia C said...

I just now discovered your blog and am really enjoying reading it! I am a divorced single mom, newly empty nested by my two grown children. Your blog inspires me to do something adventurous!

Karen said...

Welcome Autumnmiss, and Sam, and Marcia, keep coming back! I'm glad you're here and love to read your comments. Thanks Michael and Sher for being such steady readers.

One note about my plane trip, I did a search on kayak.com for flights to Marsailles and for some reason, the direct flights from Pegasus Airlines to Marsailles from Istanbul do not come up on that search engine. Kayak.com is advertised as a way to search across multiple travel ticket search engines. Thus, I was entirely unaware of the cheapest and most direct way to get there. Now I know!

 
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