Friday, March 15, 2013

Highlights of Normandy

At last! A connection to the world! The connection onboard has been spotty to nonexistent since Monday, but finally today it worked. Even so, it's so slow, I age a bit more while waiting for a page to come through.
I'd so hoped to be able to post every day but the best laid plans often do not work out.

We sailed from Rouen at 4 a.m. this morning and are now docked in a small but picturesque town called Caubec du Cav. The French flag flies from many of the buildings. Ken is out walking and exploring the town but it was too cold for me to go this early. Later in the day. Cold? Ah yes, it has been winter temps as well as three days when we had snow. Not great amounts but enough to create problems in towns that have little snow and thus no snow removal equipment. Instead, they wait for the sun to appear and melt the white stuff on the ground. Temps have been in the 30's but the sightseeing goes on with the group all bundled up like teddy bears.

Some highlights:

One cold, wet morning we did a walking tour in Vernon where Van Gogh stayed for 70 days, painted 78 canvases and then committed suicide. He is buried in the local cemetery with a simple marker. The city guides we have had are so knowledgeable and gracious, putting up with the weather conditions quite well. We returned to the ship and savored the hot soup for lunch.

We woke yesterday to find it had snowed overnight in Rouen where we were docked. But we all bundled up and ventured forth with the city guide for a 2 hour walking tour of this city where Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) was burned at the stake over 600 years ago. Cobblestone streets in the old section of town made walking a bit slipperier than normal but we picked our way carefully as we listened to many interesting stories the guide told us about this or that building, an old church and one built in 1979, so very different from the gothic structures of hundreds of years earlier. The sun had appeared and by the time we returned to the ship for lunch, the snow was gone. Ken and I went back into the town in the afternoon to explore the many interesting shops.

On Tuesday afternoon, we were scheduled to go to several host homes for cake and coffee--always a highlight of Grand Circle trips, but the snow was bad enough that day that the buses cancelled. So, on to Plan B--the host families bundled up and drove carefully to the ship, bringing the good sweets they'd baked for us with them. We then played host to them--a bit of a turnabout but great fun as we all mingled together. These French women have such style. They can wear the simplest of clothes and yet look terrific. A scarf is often used to add that touch of something special. Most of the women had some English, a few fluent, others less so. But we had a good time talking with them, trying the cakes they'd brought and having an exchange of culture and good will.

The food has been incredible each and every day. Not only delicious but presented beautifully. The only reason we don't gain five pounds on these trips is the great amount of walking we do. Some form of entertainment each evening in the loung. Last night, it was a singer who was so personable and professional.

This afternoon, we are going to the Cliffs of Etreat and a small town called Fecamp. Tomorrow, we move on  to Honfleur where we will bus to the Beaches of Normandy where the D-Day landing occurred. A hhighlight of this trip.

1 comment:

  1. Can hardly wait for the latest news on Normandy. Haven't been there since 1977.