Each time we travel, we learn more about our world…and meet new people to enjoy. Some are absurd…see Petru, the waiter, and me in full foolish mode with a candle on June 8th. Isn’t 74 an age of more sedate behavior by oneself and, perhaps, more reverence from staff people?
Here are our buddies on our last gathering.
Front are Chris & Dick Oliver, then Nancy & me (behind Chris), Marian Murfey in the back right and her husband, Skip, back left. The pretty women (tucked behind Dick’s shoulder) are a mom – Ann Huber, a Cleveland area travel agent, and her daughter – Elizabeth Stevens, a kindergarten teacher from Cincinnati. Marian & Skip are from Cleveland area, too, but did not know the ladies until this trip.
Other interesting issues:
Let’s have three cheers for Avalon Waterways…they did this whole trip for us and gave us half our money back! They could have blamed it on an “act of God”…it’s in their contract.
The architecture is usually quite different in each new location. This time, we were stunned to find that much of the style we describe as English Tudor half-timbered architecture really has its roots in Normandy.
Look at the main square in Rouen…and that little hotel on the right is where Julia Child cooked (according to a leading food source: Kris Strid). Then the whole block around that old clock…plus the local McDonalds is “Tudor”, too.
And Normandy is totally connected to Britain & Ireland. Roach was first “Roche” in Normandy and then in Cork County, Ireland. The Viking king Rollo, then William the Conqueror, then Richard the Lion-Hearted all had deep connections in English, Irish & French Norman history. They say that Richard, who did all those Crusades in the name of England (we thought) spoke French most of his life…and lived here in Normandy.
So, I want to be known in the future as Charles Row-shay, please…that’s how the French pronounce Roche…or they should.
The cross of the French Resistance. Did you ever see this before? We saw it above the beach at Normandy and represented the brave members of this amazingly clandestine part of the war, carried out by “ordinary” people. Charles de Gaulle adopted it as the symbol of his regime, which was carried on outside of the country for the most part.
The scenery is sometimes spectacular and unlike any places we have seen before…for instance, the white Limestone cliffs followed us along the Seine and provided “up views” from many of the towns – especially Etretat above Le Havre, where they are cliffs along the English Channel. Another English connection…they are just like the famous White Cliffs of Dover. See below the cliffs above Les Andelys, where we saw the castle and street fair, others along the banks of the Seine on our way to Caudebec and lastly, at the resort town on the English Channel – Etratat. (This town was a not-originally-scheduled stop for us.)
Honfleur was a favorite stop of several people who have advised us. It is another masterpiece of architecture, surrounding a protected harbor. It is still a working port…as well as a place for painters to work. It used to be the main harbor of the Seine, before Le Havre surpassed it, because of a new industrial canal.
The French people we met on our trip have been cordial and competent. They are OK, but nowhere near the “gold standard” of Italian hospitality by which we have become totally spoiled. (We have travelled to Italy three times in the last decade). Our cruise director had a great sense of humor while on the microphone but was not warm & friendly off the stage. To be fair, his work load was twice normal because of our trip’s many changes to make us comfortable.
In France, the threat of strikes is ever-present and we witnessed (but didn’t capture in photos) two different middle-of-the-highway tire-burning incidents, which seems a scary way to show visitors that you care to have them in your country. And, our last morning, our Cruise Director left at 6AM because a combination of the Paris floods plus a sudden rail strike, which had him busing his river cruise group to Lyon to begin a Rhone river trip.
Our overwhelming impression of this trip is of Normandy and its beaches, which hold so many tales of war…yet, it seems so peaceful a place today…as it was before Hitler’s invasion of France in 1940.
Cheers to you for coming along with us….choose one…or both.