France River Cruise 2019


Diary of Roger and Linda's France river cruises - April & May 2019


04/27/19 Day 1 We left this morning on our trip to France via Delta and Air France. San Diego to Los Angles (4 hr layover), then to Paris, and finally to Bordeaux. We traveled for 20 hours. France time zone is 9 hours later than ours, hence we are now into day 2 when arriving in France

 

04/28/19 Day 2, tour 1 day 1 We made it on time and picked up our free shuttle to the ship another 3/4 hour of traveling sitting on that sore butt of mine. As luck would have it I left San Diego with a chest cold that I caught at the SD Regional bridge tournament, I had a sore throat and was coughing big time. I bought 6 portions of Nyquil at the LAX airport for $15 which actually relieved the symptoms a lot. The Air France flight was on a 780 Airbus Jumbo 2 decker plane. I had purchased an upgrade to Comfort Class which was very roomy and much more comfortable than standard coach class. The food was actually editable, better than I expected. We and our luggage arrived on time. Our shuttle was waiting for us and we arrived at our river barge like vessel within one hour. Check in was quick and painless. Got unpacked rested an hour before orientation and a great steak dinner French style.

 

04/29/19 Day 3, tour 1 day 2 Linda and I slept quite well the first night. The room is very small but the bed is large enough and extremely comfortable. The ship called “Bon Voyage” had just been remodeled this year and was in beautiful condition. We got up at 7:00am and had a great breakfast mostly buffet style except for an omelet and egg station where you can get made to order omelets, fried eggs and eggs Benedict. We were docked at a small town called Blaye this morning. We got ready for our first excursion at 9:00am. It was a guided scenic bus drive along the Route de la Corniche Fleurie and then a walking tour of the Blaye Fortress. The country side was very green and beautiful, of course many vineyards, and views of an estuary we followed for 3/4’s of the trip. The Fortress was very impressive and so green with beautiful views of the estuary. We had two female guides for the excursion and both were excellent speaking very good English with a French flare. We returned to ship for lunch and a lecture on up coming excursion options we were going to have. Most of them are included in the cost of the cruise booking. At dinner the outstanding courses of the night was asparagus spears with poached egg appetizer and Veal Chops to die for all locally produced. After dinner two young French ladies performed a Can Can show for us. One was an excellent singer and the other a dancer who performed Can Can better than any I have ever seen. Of course they were at close range and flirted with all the men who just loved it.

04/30/19 Day 4, tour 1 day 3 Got up at 8:00am this morning starting to feel better and my cold symptoms are beginning to subside. We met with our friends Conrad and Kathy for breakfast and I enjoyed vegetable omelet, multi grain toast, and french cheese for breakfast.

Then Linda, Kathy, and I did a short hike to see another Fortress called Cussac-Fort-Medoc, Pauillac. It was built to help protect the estuary from invading ships on the opposite side of the one we hiked to yesterday. This one was much less imposing. I wanted to visit the Moutain Rothchild for tasting which cost $50 euro, but I waited too long as they only allowed 10 people and it was booked. Bummer. So I stayed home and caught up on my diary. The rest of the group did 4 hour trip to see the Atlantic WWII bunkers. They got back just in time for dinner at 7:00pm. It was great as usual. I had a cheese salad and local mussels for my first two courses. Both very tasty. For the main course I had duck confit with polenta and a couple of prime vegetable morsels all excellent. The polenta was the best I ever ate. Desert was a delicious strawberry tart. YUM YUM. Hope I don’t gain too many pounds on this trip.

05/01/19 Day 5, tour 1 day 4 Sleeping was tough last night because we sailed most of the night and our cabin was a bit warm We are docked on the river within walking distance of the small town of Cadillac. Got up about 7:00 am to get ready for the day. Linda and I have adapted to the very tight quarters on these river boats. We had the staff remove one chair that was blocking access to the right side of our queen size bed. The interior decorating and art work is very nice. The walls are covered with padded fabric. The bed is very comfortable, but the duvet is too warm for the current spring weather at 55 - 70 F. We had breakfast at 8:15 am and then left via bus on our excursion to see the Sauternes Vineyards with Private Tasting at Chateau de Cazeneuve The ride to this old castle through several famous vineyards was beautiful. The castle and grounds were impressive but no photos allowed. The sweet desert sauterne wine provided for tasting was not impressive. Returned around noon just in time for another gourmet lunch. I crashed in our room as I am still not recovered totally from my cold and was groggy from my lack of sleep last night. For dinner the lamb shank was a excellent main course and the floating islands for desert were also very good. This particular ship has outstanding food better than the previous two cruises I have sailed on. Linda liked the two person singing group who sang songs from various musical groups mostly from England.

 

05/02/19 Day 6, tour 1 day 5 We are in Libourne today near the very small famous town of St-Emilion. I slept much better last night, perhaps because I went back on my Nyquil. Got up at 7:00 am and then breakfast at 8:15 and left for excursion at 9:00 am our established routine this trip. I tried some French Toast this morning which was really good with my scrambled eggs and fresh fruit. We got on the bus driving through the beautiful vineyards on the half hour drive to the famous town of St-Emilion. Arrived and were assigned to our charming male guide to tour the town and the partially underground church. The church had very few artifacts left in it because it was looted after the French Revolution in 1789. This site definitely deserves its world heritage status. It is in awesome condition and really old dating back to 800 AD. After the city and church tour we had a very informative tour of a very popular local wine making company who made wine using both old and lots of new state of the art wine making procedures. This guide and most of the others provided to us so far were excellent and I had very little problem with the language. Got back on our bus and arrived back at the ship just in time for another great lunch. Hung out in the room in the afternoon resting, computing, and waiting for dinner tonight.

 

05/03/19 Day 7, tour 1 day 6 We remained docked on river in Libourne Bordeaux area of France today. After breakfast we all four did a guided tour to the local Market. I purchased some Euros, the local currency, today so I could buy some candy and pastries which this town is famous for. The vegetables for sale were of amazing quality. The large white asparagus is in season, expensive but really good. Many beautiful large colorful scarfs for sale, but I could not talk Linda into buying one as she is too tight. The cost ranged from 100 - 200 euro. A euro is approximately one US dollar. Had a very enjoyable morning at the Market. Returned to ship for a light lunch. The girls did another walk along the river in the afternoon. I slept all afternoon resting up for dinner. The boat traveled up river to Bordeaux while we ate dinner. Had seafood type dinner tonight; oysters similar to Rockefeller, white asparagus soup, white codfish, lobster, and Lava Cake with honey vanilla ice cream. YUM YUM After dinner the rest of group did a two hour night hike along the wharf area of the river. I am still not totally healed from my cold and decided to go to bed early again.

 

05/04/19 Day 8, tour 1 day 7 Arrived on a sunny low 60’s day into Bordeaux at the same place we started this cruise. We are going to have breakfast and then be off for a three hour hike into the city center of Bordeaux. Our guide today and for most of our excursions was Julia who lived near by in St Emilion. She was awesome and we tipped her $20 euro at the end of the trip. We went down town via train on the public metro transportation. As it was Sunday, the city was not busy at 9:00 am in the morning. We viewed on foot most of the city major buildings such as the opera house, main church, major original hotels, a Michelin 4 star restaurant, indoor market & shopping center, chocolate shop with tasting, two bakeries tasting some awesome cream puffs and various local specialties of the area. Most of the old city buildings are in various stages of renovation, Most of the buildings are made of sand stone which has become dark colored due to pollution and are being cleaned at the business owner’s expense. The French are very cognizant of various new ways to limit pollution in their cities. Returned back to the ship for lunch and then at 2 pm we walked about 2 miles to the new Wine Museum a very impressive modern style tall building on the river and near the famous bridge at the entrance into Bordeaux. Most of the displays were presented using the latest HiTec video and audio electronic display stations. The building itself was a work of art. It was very busy, so I do not recommend visiting it on a weekend. I walked back and was dead tired upon reaching the ship after doing the round trip walk perhaps 3 miles long. Took a hot shower, started packing for trip to next cruise ship, and waited for our final dinner at 7:00 pm with Linda, Conrad, and Kathy. This ship had the best food of any UniWorld cruise I have been on. YUM YUM.

 

05/05/19 Day 9, tour 2 day 1 Did not sleep at all last night due to Linda’s snoring and perhaps over exerting myself yesterday doing lots of hiking coupled with rain showers. This is our travel day via electric train to our next cruise to Paris-Normandy via the Seine River. Our luggage was transported to next ship via private truck. We were transported via UniWorld bus to the train depot about 20 minutes away. UniWorld provided a guide to accompany us on the bus and train trip to Paris. She was a good looking very engaging young women from Norway. I am not sure I could have navigated the train station gates, tunnels, and automated ticket station to be transported to Paris on my own. The train traveled at a top speed of 110 mph and it took us about 3.5 hours total to reach our destination at our ship on the Seine River about 6 blocks from the Eifel tower. UniWorld included all costs and we had 1st class tickets on the train. Arrived on the ship S.S. Joie de Vivre about 1:30 pm, had lunch on board, and got checked into our room around 2:30 pm. The room was like a suite compared to our last room; much bigger, Queen size bed, automated switch controlled drapes, heated bathroom floors and towels, tv built into mirror, way more storage space, immaculately clean, great layout and plugs of all kinds for my computer and electronic gear, and decorated in a french style decor that was very pleasing. We are becoming more pleased with UniWorld as the trip progresses. My first dinner on board was a bit disappointing however. I ordered a meal with a white asparagus theme with every course except desert. Unfortunately the salmon with hollandaise sauce was not hot. Retired early after dinner and took Nyquil to help me sleep which worked.

 

05/06/19, Day 10, tour 2 day 2 I slept great last night and felt human again. Got up at 6:45 am showered and worked on diary until breakfast at 8:15 am. Food and service had same good standards as the last ship.

The ship had moved during the night and we were at our excursion site right on the river to visit Chateau de Roche Gyon. Another awesome huge castle with a view of the Seine river housing some very interesting artifacts and history. There were 5 tapestries in one of the large rooms that told an incredible story (told by our guide). The color and detail of these tapestries were the best I have ever seen. Also saw some photos of German WW2 general Rommel alias Desert Fox signing some war documents in one of the rooms. During WW2 French occupation, the Germans took over this castle and kept weapons and ammunition in tunnels under the castle. We walked through these huge limestone tunnels that still had a view weapons of war stored in them. This was another enjoyable free walking excursion provided by UniWorld.

After the castle tour the ship sailed in the afternoon to our next excursion site Monet’s Gardens in Giverny. It was only a 20 minute bus trip to the gardens from the ship. These gardens were really busy, on this Monday afternoon, (like Disneyland crowds on a week end). Fortunately the guide kept us entertained with Monet stories via wireless radio while we were waiting in various lines to get in. The abundance, design, and color of the flowers in the gardens were awesome. Monet was most certainly aware of the complementary color wheel guide when he selected the flowers for his gardens. The design and layout was amazingly pleasing. Everyone was doing photography on this tour and it would be easy to loose your guide - my worst nightmare is to be lost in a foreign country-. There were also several quaint buildings filled with artifacts of the time and thousands of copies of Monet’s oil and water paintings. If in France, near these gardens, it is a must see place to visit.

 

05/07/19 Day 11, tour 2 day 3 Long full day excursion via bus to see Normandy Beaches; Utah Beach, Sainte Mere Eglise, Air bourne Museum, Pointe du Hoc, American Cemetery, and Private ceremony at Omaha Beach. The first stop at Utah Beach to see the German Bunkers and Landing site beaches that had to be negotiated on D day.
The beaches entry to land was reasonably easy for the allies to scale here, but at the top the Germans had bunkers with guns fortifying their position all over the place. The inland beach areas had all been flooded by the Germans so para troupers could not easily get in to take out the German bunkers. A very unfriendly place for the Allies. It was very cold at this first stop. I was wishing I had brought more layers of clothing.

Next the bus went to the town of Sainte Mere Eglise. Here one of the US para troupers landed on a church steeple and was stuck there. They still have a parachute and plastic dummy of the event on top of the church. The picture of this event made this town world famous. We had a nice French lunch eating early and just beating the tourist crowd. The pizza, buckwheat crepes, sandwiches, and white wine was wonderful and only $40 euro for all 4 of us. Wished we could have eaten out more on the entire trip at the local restaurants. After lunch we visited the free air entry air bourne museum of WW2. I really enjoyed this museum which had real planes and replicas of all the major important weapons of the war.

Next the bus took us to another beach landing site called Pointe du Hoc. Negotiating the beach and cliffs here looked suicidal to me. At the top the Germans had bunkers with many guns of all calibers. This was one of the toughest sites to secure. The allies thought there were huge 150 mm guns up here that were accurate up to 13 miles. The Germans however had hidden the guns inland, but they were eventually found by the allies.

Next the bus took us to The American Cemetery. This cemetery is immaculately maintained and had beautiful styled displays and statues all WW2 related. It reminded me of our Pt. Loma military cemetery and the Arlington cemetery in Washington DC. The land used for the cemetery was given to the US at no cost. A small division of the US government actually runs and maintains it. Was absolutely worth visiting.

Lastly the bus took us to Omaha Beach for a private ceremony to give credit to a young man in the Coast Guard who was killed in the war. A trumpet military musician played taps during the ceremony in front of the commemorative statues on the beach created to remember the brave soldiers who fought in WW2.

Got back to the ship 12 hours after leaving. It was a long day of travel but I will remember visiting the area the rest of my life.

 

05/08/19 Day 12, tour 2 day 4 Rain forecast for today, so I decided to stay on ship to work on diary and photos at Caudebec en Caux on the Seine River. The wifi only works in the middle of the ship near the front desk. They do have a myfi box you can rent for $8 euro per day, but it has a 800MB limit per day. I decided that when I need the internet, I will cart my ipad or laptop down to the lounge and use it there. Not convenient but it works. As I may have said earlier, French internet censorship is a real problem over here. To avoid this, one needs to use a VPN virtual private network service. Now the French don’t know where you are located and hence your actions on the web will not be censored. My friend Conrad installed NORDvpn app for $36 / 3 years which is one of the best services available. Using an app like this makes internet use a lot safer.

At 2:00 pm the sun came out and I decided to take a walk with the girls to the local church built around 1300. It was quit beautiful and had many statues and plaques of patron saints for this area during the middle ages.

Before dinner Kathy and I started drinking a bottle of French Cabernet wine which she had received from UniWorld because they are in a suite with their own private butler. The wine was quite good and we also took it to dinner and I ended up drinking more than 1/2 of it, more than my sensible limit. We ate on the ship in a small french bistro type restaurant with only 3 things on the menu. Kathy and I had mussels in a cream sauce which was very good. The traditional french fries served with mussels were not good. I also had an appetizer - three duck pates of which two were excellent. Desert was a bourbon flavored creme brulee not to my liking. Why can’t the chef stick with tried and true classic recipes? Conrad and Linda had Cassolette which they did not like. I thought the restaurant was a fun place located on top deck near bow of the ship. We had reservations for Saturday also, but were cancelled.

 

05/09/19 Day 13, tour 2 day 5 The ship is in Rouen today. We did a walking tour of the city from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. We experienced rain half of the walk. I had a rain jacket with a hood, so no problem. The city is quite congested and and full of huge old cathedrals. The Notre Dame Rouen was very huge and impressive. They allowed photos. It was really huge and a good place to escape from the rain. Kathy and I bought Joan of Arc tear drop candies which are almonds covered with a chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon confection and they were extremely tasty. I decided to rent a mifi or as the French called it, a router today from UniWorld and am very happy with it. The speed is 150 Mbps, bandwidth 880MB per day, 12 hour battery 10 devices can be hooked up, and the cost is $8 euro per day. All sounds good except the bandwidth which, I may exceed and I must find out how much more it will cost. Spent most of the afternoon surfing the web and watching You Tube videos. The evening meal with the usual group; Conrad, Kathy, Linda, and an old outgoing lady from Belgium who spoke 5 languages fluently and was very enjoyable and intertaining. Conrad likes to find a good waiter and sit at the same table every night which I must admit makes the social life of the cruise more fun and enjoyable. The food was to my liking tonight; deviled eggs with caviar, fresh pea cream soup, rack of lamb with polenta, ratatouille, and for desert crêpes Suzette. YUM YUM

 

05/10/19 Day 14, tour 2 day 6 The ship is on its way to Mantes-la-jollie near Paris today. Our excursion today is to the Versailles palace. When the ship reaches our destination we will leave for Versailles via bus at 12:00 pm and return at 5:30 pm. This turned out to be one of the most popular tourist destinations on our entire French agenda. It was about a 45 min drive through pretty farm land to Versailles Palace the home of kings - Louie the 14th, 15th, an 16th. Our French english speaking guide really knew her history and rarely stopped talking the entire trip. I enjoyed most of their stories about the aristocracy of the time. I have never visited a more decadent, elaborate, and beautiful palace than this one. In the 16th and 17th centuries this was the most prestigious place in the world. Of course Louie the 16th and his queen Marie Antoinette were both beheaded on the guillotine by the French Revolution leaders.

 

05/11/19 Day 15, tour 2 day 7 The ship is back in Paris today SUNDAY. We did a 4 hour bus tour to a few of the major attractions in the city. Have been to no city like this one. It was raining the first 1/2 of the tour. We got out and walked at bit at the Eifel Tower and a beautiful city park. It is evident that France was the most wealthy and powerful country in times past. Got back to the ship and had a nice lunch. After lunch and after it stopped raining we took a shuttle bus to the Opera House then used google maps to fine a Hard Rock Cafe so Conrad could buy a T shirt for his collection. Then we decided to walk 5 miles back to the ship using goggle maps. We lost signal on our
phone google maps app getting us a bit lost. We had disagreement on how to return to the ship. Good thing I agreed with Conrad and Kathy’s instincts on how to return. Had I not followed their route I might still be in Paris looking for that ship.

 

05/12/19 Day 16, tour 3 day 1 Got up and had breakfast on my favorite ship of the trip. Had my last fancy waffle cut up in shapes and then decorated with fruits and powered sugar Left the room and got on our Uniworld bus to the high speed train depot. We were guided all the way to Lyon France by the tour director who was being transferred to our new ship called the S.S Catherine. She arranged the purchase of all our train tickets and guided us to the proper gates. The train ride was awesome in our first class seats and the country side was very scenic reminding me of the terrain in Wisconsin, USA where I grew up. It was very smooth, comfortable seats, clean close toilettes, and sped through the country site at 200 + mph. The cost of all of this was included in our original booking. Basically I have had no extra costs on this trip except the upgraded wifi router I purchased in Paris. We embarked on the new ship about 2.5 hours after we left the last ship. Rather than checking in immediately we walked about 1 hour up river to visit the Hard Rock Cafe where Conrad wanted to add to his collection of Hard Rock Cafe T shirts from all over the world. We had lunch and beer and then walked an hour again back to the ship and checked into our room. The room was nice but not as good as the last ship S.S. Joie de Vivre (my most favorite ship ever in the UniWorld fleet). Faced that ugly fire drill one must endure on embarkation of every ship, rested a couple hours and then had a pleasant dinner with Conrad, Kathy, Linda, and an outgoing couple from Milwaukee, WI.

 

05/13/19 Day 17 tour 3 day 2 Our 8:30 am excursion today was a bus ride to Beaune through the pretty Burgundy country side farm areas and wine areas. We drove through a few famous wine areas. My favorite was the Puligamy Matrachet vineyard. I used to drink this famous white burgundy when I was young just starting out in my quest for wine appreciation. The price went up and I had forgotten about it until actually seeing their vineyard in the flesh. We stopped at perhaps 3 famous vineyards for photos. It was windy and cold so all these stops were very short hops in and out of the bus. Beaune was a very small, old, and quaint little city with well restored old structures. Did walking on our own after a guides tour of town center. We had lunch in a local restaurant where I had a vegetable cheese crepe, small salad, and a glass of dry white wine which was absolutely excellent. Four of us had lunch for only $36 euro. I was dead tired now at around 1:30 pm, but the tour continued. We next went though an old hospital/hospice which was now a museum now. I grabbed places to sit as much as possible and survived my fatigue. Got on bus and got a bit of sleep, on the 1.5 hour return to ship. Long day indeed, but I found enough energy to have foi gras, peach eggplant salad, pasta with mussels, and a grand mariner souffle.

05/14/19 Day 18 tour 3 day 3 Woke up to a 55 F., windy, yet a nice clear day in Lyon. We are off at 8:45 am to do a bus and a walking gastronomical tour of the city in Lyon. Visited a Basilica first, over looking the city on a high hill. Very cold and windy outside. The interior of the Basilica was awesome. Next we came down off the hill via bus to the inner city. Got out of the bus, visiting several famous buildings with fresco’s, bakeries, indoor markets, and then walked the inner city on the Rhone river which really was awesome, full of beautifully restored buildings, shops, and restaurants. Got back to ship about 1:00 pm and had a small lunch. Still tired from last two days, I spent the afternoon in my room resting and doing diary.

 

05/15/19 Day 18 tour 3 day 4 Our docking location today is Tain L’HERMITAGE, FRANCE on the Rhone River. Appears to be another cool clear, windy, sunny day temperature range 45 to 65 F. We did an 2.5 hour walk of the twin cities of Tain L’ HERMITAGE and Tournon one on each side of the Rhone river. It included walking through a very old church built around 1200 ad. It was beautiful inside. France as no shortage of ancient churches, cathedrals, and basilicas. Our guide today a older blond French lady was an excellent historian, great sense of humor, and spoke better English than I. At the end of the walk we visited a large wine producer’s shop for a sit down tasting of their class 1, 2, & 3 (no 4’s) wines. There vineyards could be seen on steep slopes above us facing the river Rhone. The woman conducting the tasting of 1 white and 2 red, had a terrible accent, speaking bad English, and raved on and on about the quality of the wine, how it was grown, pruned, fertilized, and how to taste the wine. They were not bad for the price under 20 euro, but I would not lug any home in my suit case. Spent the afternoon making more reservations on the internet for my Pacific NW upcoming RV trip. We ate alone tonight as Conrad and Kathy had a special dinner for suite holders only.

 

05/16/19 Day 19 tour 3 day 5 We arrived in the city of Vivers last night. Our walking tour today included a visit to St. Vincent’s Cathedral to hear an organ recital done by a local organist. The Cathedral (home for high ranking cardinals and other religious leaders) is the smallest one in France, but apparently its organ is world renowned. After the recital we walked the city center of Vivers. When done with that the local guide (same one as yesterday) took us to her 4 story Mediterranean style house with a beautiful outdoor patio garden. She served us with french bread, cheeses, pates including Foie gras, olives, and 3 types of wine. It was an excellent repast and I skipped lunch on the ship. Next I took a premium tour ($70 fee) to a Truffle Farm and a Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine tasting chateau. We jumped on a bus which drove toward the south of France on the old original highway that the Romans traveled on. The country side was varied with lots of lavender, vineyards, garlic, cattle, and various other produce and fruit including apricots, olives, and truffle farms with lots of oak trees It took 1.5 hours to reach the winery. The owner explained in french the business of wine making to our pretty guide who translated to us. She was an excellent translator, pleasant to watch and hear, but it really got boring after 30 to 40 minutes of this. A couple of wine makers were present from Napa Valley USA and they prolonged it even longer with questions. Eventually we got down to tasting and this too got boring. The wine was good for the price, but again I decided not good enough to lug any home in my suite case.

Next we drove about an half hour to the Truffle farm on curvy country side back road which was barely wide enough for our big bus. The owner explained the business of farming truffles in French with our charming black female guide translating all for us. After an 1/2 hour of explaining the business we took a walk to white oak trees which contained the truffles in the ground under the trees. This farmer used 2 adorable golden labrador white lab dogs to find the truffles. The truffles can ripen with in 2 days and the dogs only dig up the ones that are ripe. The older dog immediately within 10 minutes found 3 ripe white truffles (black outside, but white inside) which where shown to every one in the group. It takes 4 years to train a pup labrador retriever to become good a truffle hunter. The season at this location is from late November to May only. Next we went into his house to taste white truffles on french bread with olive oil, and sea salt. We were all given our choice of 3 wines to have with the truffles. The truffles are good but I think considering the high cost of them, they are way overrated. They tasted like sliced chestnuts to me and did not have any definite distinguishing flavor on my palate. After the truffles we had french bread with truffle oil on the bread. I found this to be more pleasing and tasteful than the real truffles. The dogs were allowed to join us while eating the truffles. Those two labs really loved the attention given by the guests.

We now got on the bus for the 45 minute ride to our ship which had been cruising down stream on the Rhone river while our bus was driving south on our tours.

Rested 45 minutes and headed to dining room for dinner. I decided to splurge tonight and ordered a bottle 2010 Château D’issan Margaux to go with my rack of lamb.

 

05/17/19 Day 20 tour 3 day 6 Woke up in Avignon this morning to rain. Had breakfast and the rain subsided so I decided to go on the morning walking tour to the Palace of the Popes in the walled city of Avignon. The palace where the French popes lived was mostly built in the 1300 and 1400 hundreds. The palace is really huge and has been partially restored. 202 steps are required by tourist to walk through the monstrously huge buildings. This however does not compare at all to the palace in Versailles where King Henry the 14, 15, & 16 lived, but it is still impressive to see none the less. There is a wall 4300 meters long x 8 meters high surrounding the city. Construction started in 1355 and it took 15 years to complete. Can Trump do better? On the walk back to the ship we visited a very old 1400’s church and then an indoor market place that had some great looking produce, meats, wine, cheese, and all kinds of prepared pates and dishes ready to eat. I would have been happy to purchase my lunch here and eat it in a park, but the rest of my group preferred to eat the familiar food of the ship luncheon buffet. Had lunch and returned to my room for rest, doing diary, and surfing the web.

 

05/18/19 Day 21 tour 3 day 7 The ship moved up river this morning to Tarascon, France. It is a clear day this morning. The tour today was a 30 minute bus ride to Arles, France and then a 3 hour guided walking tour through the very old city. Van Gogh paid tribute to Arles’s atmospheric beauty in some 200 paintings including the famous painting “STARRY NIGHT over the RHONE” The romans built the original walled city including a huge amphitheater where they had gladiators fighting each other and wild animals similar to the coliseum in Rome. Today they have bull fighting inside the amphitheater. The amphitheater is so well designed, that the entire 30,000 occupants can leave the theater in 30 seconds. Our designers in the US should study this design, to clear occupants in our sports stadiums quicker. They also built another large theater for plays and is now used by the french for Shakespearian live plays in the summer. This city is a photographers dream, because of the wild lines and textures produced by the old medieval buildings, streets, court yards, and beautiful floral growing around and in the building sculptured flower pots. Our guide was full of interesting historical facts about everything imaginable. 85% of UniWorld’s excursions are included in the booking cruise price. They also find outstanding sites and guides to lead the tours.

This was Saturday and we were next lead to the outdoor Farmers market, perhaps the biggest one of the trip. The food was in the middle of 4 inside rows of venders. Many venders were making Paella with huge shrimp and mussels, I wanted to taste it bad, but did not. I had euros left so I bought candy to take home. Got back to the ship around 1:00 pm and had lunch.

 

05/19/19 Day 22 return home Had to get up at 2:30 am to make our 3:30 am bus transport to the Marseille airport where our flight was leaving for Amsterdam at 6:30 am. Arrived 2 hours later at 8:40 am on time. Hurried through customs and boarded for our next flight to Detroit USA at 12:57 pm. Suffered another customs ordeal in Detroit and boarded our plane to San Diego leaving at 4:05 pm. This plane completely full was like a cattle car. Even with the upgraded seating I felt cramped and uncomfortable. Arrived at last after 5 hours, in San Diego at 6:15 pm. Grabbed a cab for a ride home which cost $75 with tip. HOME SWEET HOME its great to be back. Linda picked up Charlie who was very happy to see us both. ONE OF OUR BETTER TRIPS OF ALL TIME.

 

 

 


Last updated on June 14, 2019