It has now been almost 72 hours since we returned from our vacation - a Viking riverboat cruise to "Paris and the Heart of Normandy". We have sorted through all of the pictures. (We took over 700 of them, and after sorting through and deleting all of the duplications and bad ones, have gotten it down to 654 of them.) In these few days since our return, I have been contemplating just how I was going to write this one up to share with you, and I have to confess that I am overwhelmed at the thought of it. I think that Marilyn said it best late Saturday night when she said that this trip just might have been the most special trip that we have ever taken.
I am not even sure where to begin. First off, the trip was special because of the company we kept, our friends Dan and Susan. We just can't imagine better travel companions. Lots of laughs, good times, and memories made.
Then there were the sights, the authenticity, and the glamour and romance of Paris, plus the sheer beauty of the Normandy countryside through which we sailed. I have concluded that there is no way that I can put into words just what we experienced. However, that has never stopped me before, so let me just share a bit of it with you in the form of some photos and accompanying comments.
On our first day, we went into Paris and walked about on our own, and at one point a view of the Eiffel Tower appeared before us. You have seen it a million times in pictures, movies, and TV shows, and let me tell you, seeing it right before you for the very first time almost takes your breath away. It is mesmerizing , and you can't take your eyes off of it.
The next day, Saturday, we were able to stop at a public site near the tower that gave us even better views and some cool photo ops.
Yes, we admit to pure Yinzerism,
but we had to do it.
That first full day also include stops at some other Paris landmarks...
The Arc de Triomphe
Through a rain streaked coach window.
Notre Dame Paris
Construction on this began in 1163!
It also seemed that just about every city in
France has a church named "Notre Dame"
The glass pyramid in the courtyard at The Louvre
I don't have to tell you what this is, do I?
Quite a thing to see this knowing it is the original.
Visiting The Louvre was quite an experience. It is enormous. No way you could ever see everything. Being a part of the crowds, especially around such attractions as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo was a part of the fun of the overall experience.
Some other sites worth noting for the trip....
The gardens and water lily pond at the Claude Monet Estate in Giverny....
A walking tour of the town of Vernon. Like much of France, Vernon was occupied by the Nazis during World War II. Our guide, Patricia, told us of her mother, then eleven years old, having to flee to the hillsides and live in caves during the occupation.
But then there was the charm of the town of Vernon itself.
Many of the homes and buildings
in Vernon date back to the 1500's!!
With our guide, Patricia. She was terrific.
Later in the week, we toured a medieval castle in the town of Les Andelys, and were treated to some spectacular views.
Some other various scenes that we experienced throughout the week....
Believe it or not, this flooded commercial touristy area
is in the one block run up to the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Hard to pass by any French bakeries, even one that uses
St. Joan of Arc to peddle macaroons!
At the Palace of Versailles. Little known fact,
the place began as a humble hunting lodge out in the country
for the King of France/
How French of us.
Patronizing Parisian street vendors.
I will stop here so as to avoid sensory overload to the reader. I will leave you with one final spectacular scene from our last night in Paris.
Unbelievable, isn't it? Rick Blaine certainly knew what he was talking about when he told Ilsa Lund that "We'll always have Paris." So did Audrey Hepburn in the movie "Sabrina" when she said "Paris is always a good idea."
I also will promise you two additional posts in the days ahead. One will describe the overall experience that we had on the Viking riverboat, The Kadlin.
The other post will be about the day that was the absolute highlight of the trip when this photo was taken:
We are standing on Omaha Beach in Normandy. Our visit to the D-Day beaches and the American Cemetery deserves its own separate post.