Monday, October 27, 2014

Brief Encounter

We are now on the train travelling at high speed to our next destination which is Florence, Italy.
We have successfully disembarked and have had no issues hopping aboard the VVVFT to Torlino where we will swap trains for Florence.
We had our last sumptuous meal this morning with Mal and Chris. Mind, I was so full after eating too much these past days, I really have little appetite and eat because it is in front of me rather than because of appetite. I did order Eggs Benedict today as a last treat, but they fail to arrive. Our waiters are very busy multi skilling this morning, helping to empty rooms, remove luggage and begin the arduous preparation for stripping the rooms.
As this is the last tour for the season on board The Scenic Gem, the boat will go into dry dock once she has been emptied and undergo maintenance and any repairs in preparation for the next year tours.

Following on from our trip through Vernon and Giverney with the visit to Monet's garden we travel further again on our way back to Paris, stopping the night at Conflans. This all occurred yesterday and is our final leg of the trip before returning to a busting city yet again.
Conflans is another pretty town from what we see with a large amount of goods and services transportation occurring on the waterways as well as our aspect of tourism.
This day is the day I have been so looking forward to for it is the day we visit the beautiful village of Auvers-sur-Oise which was the final place Vincent Van Gogh lived before his death around 1890.
As was stated yesterday, we learn that Vincent, as he preferred to be called, led a troubled life, rejected by his mother when younger for no particular reason, and only having his brother who was 4 years younger as his emotional support in those years before his death.
Vincent had a significant psychiatric disorder and was admitted to an asylum following living in Paris which he did not enjoy, prior to relocating to Auvers-sur-Oise where he had hoped to regain his passion for life and health.
Deep dark depression was Vincent's burden and initially when relocating to this country town he had a burst of mania that saw him create a tremendous amount of paintings in a very short period of time.
Bear in mind that some painters of this time might take up to a year to complete one piece of artwork. Vincent in the 50 odd days he was at Auvers-sur-Oise painted hundreds of canvases with some of them being his most memorable.
All he wanted was to be at peace with himself, as he wrote, in numerous letters to his brother and to have some recognition of his artwork, but alas that was not to be whilst he was still alive. Like so many artists of great and profound reputation, his genius for his craft was not acknowledged till after his demise which occurred in mysterious happenings.
There are theories he committed suicide, there are theories he was shot intentionally and there is the theory he was out hunting and was shot accidentally. No one really knows what happened to this man other than his wounds caused him to return to his abode where he lay in agony for two days before death overtook him. His brother was with him at the time and cared for him till the end. The room in which Vincent lived and died remains untouched to this day and all there is to remind us of his presence is a symbolic chair facing the garret window. There are holes in the wall where he hung his artwork to dry and a presence of greatness once being within.

We wander through the village and look upon the fields where he gained inspiration. We visit the catholic church where he would spend time as he was a devout man, at one stage in his life wanting to become a protestant minister like his father. We wander the streets and stroll along the steps he once ambled along, with very little of the scenery changing from one century to the next in this country town with no walls and no housing estates. Just a little bit of traffic from time to time making us aware as we cross the Main Street to be careful.
We visit Vincent's grave, located up a hill out the back of the town in the local cemetary and we learn how his brother died not 6 months after Vincent from complications of syphillis which Vincent apparently had as well. They are buried together in a little plot and we have opportunity to pay our respects to this man and his brother Theo in a cemetry that also contains soldiers buried in haste during the second and first world wars also.

This is my piĆ©ce de resistance for the trip as I have for a very long time felt a spiritual connection with the story of this man and his life for reasons I will not go into at this time as I have written of them previously. 
Needless to say though, I once met a little man who was named Vincent also but who never had life to draw breath.

"This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you"

We finally say farewell to this place and return to our ship for our last sail back to Paris.
Dinner this evening is a gastonomique degustation delight (with wines to match!!!) which is delicious but as it is the last day is a 10 day gastonomique delight where I haven't had to cook or decide what's for dinner I am a bit over the richness of the food despite the individual flavours and the abundance...or should I say overabundance!
We sail into Paris around 9:30 that night and are up on deck in time for the multitudinous lights on the hour every hour. 
Tis a very beautiful way to return to the City of Love and we are truly grateful for all we have experienced these past 10 days or so.

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