David's Diary: Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Arles, France

Arles Amphitheatre
Arles Amphitheatre

Today was a break from school as we rented a car for the day to visit the nearby town of Arles. A defining point for Arles came about in 49BC when the city sided with the victorious Julius Caesar, who captured and plundered the city of Marseilles. Arles replaced Marseilles as the major port of the region.

Two Thousand Year Old Walls
Two Thousand Year Old Walls

As the Roman provincial center, Arles grew to the point that it need a 20,000 person amphitheatre. Today, we get to visit this amphitheatre which is still used for bull fights today. From the top of the walls, we had views down narrow streets towards the Rhone. We got to visit the inside and outside of the amphitheatre as we imagined the Roman events that must have taken place in the past.

Arles is also famous as the place where Van Gogh painted many of his paintings. In the two years Van Gogh was in Arles, he produced more than 200 paintings and 100 drawings. Back in September, we visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and got to view many of the paintings that he did of Arles. One of the nice things about our trip is being able to connect some of the historic sites that we visit and show the children how they are connected.

David Get's An Eye Checkup
David Gets An Eye Checkup

The main reason for our visit to Arles is so that I can have an eye doctor checkup. Last May I had laser eye surgery. This was very successful, but last week when we were in Cassis I noticed that I could not read road signs as I was used to. I was due for my six-month checkup, so I arranged for an eye doctor visit.

In the center of the old town of Arles, we visited Dr. Blanc who thankfully spoke English. My eyes have swelled and created haze, which is impairing my vision. This is unusual in laser eye surgery, but not unheard of, especially if, like me, you have had the PRK type of surgery. I now must start taking steroid drops in my eyes three times a day, just as I did after my surgery. I just hope that my eyesight recovers, as we are going to need it when navigating the Mediterranean.

It is still interesting to see the differences between Canadian and French eye measurements. In France, you wear a special eyeglass holder where the doctor places different lenses. These lenses come from a circular workstation that revolves to provide various measuring devices for the doctor. In Canada, we look through a special eyeglass device that has a series of adjustable lenses. The net result is the same, but the method of achieving it are quite different. I'm still getting used to the French method of eye measurement, but the conclusions were clear. My eyesight is much worse due the haze and we have to hope that the medication will solve the problem. While my eyesight is still much better than before my surgery, right now it is poor enough that I would be required to have glasses to drive.

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