This has nothing to do with the series I am doing on my next adventure to Turkey and beyond, but this blogger always has such wonderful stories and BEAUTIFUL pictures that I thought I would share this article with you. Enjoy… I LOVE lavender and still to this day regret going to Provence in May and missing them! Next time though!!

Victor Travel Blog

By Irina.

I’d like to visit France three times:

– In the beginning of summer, Normandy, when plump French cows are put out to graze on young, lush grass, and their milk smells of spring, which means that fresh, soft, young Brie cheese covered with flavored rind would be the highest quality. Moreover, Mont Saint Michel might look fantastic against the green-blue background of summer. Although I suppose this abbey looks wonderful on the background of leaden clouds too.

– In the middle of summer, Provence, to catch a sight of lavender fields.

– And in autumn for the New Wine Festival. Although maybe we would choose Italy for this event.

So, the summer vacation came up, and we decided to go to the south of France to seek lavender fields. Don’t ask me, “Why seek them? They are all over the place there.” As it turned out, to capture…

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It ain’t no bull that Istanbul!

Here we go… with just a little under two months before we set off on our next adventure if I want to make sure that you are totally bored with me and my trip then I better get cracking!  So let’s take a look at our first destination; Istanbul, Turkey.

Istanbul Turkey Skyline

Soon I can put a little dot on this picture that reads “I am here”!

Want to be wowed with my knowledge of history and such?  Way back when (okay so far not very impressive) Istanbul used to be called Constantinople.  Now, I have never professed to being an expert on ALL things.. just travel related things!  So I did what I do best in these instances and Googled!

Back in 1453 the seige of Constantinople and the subsequent capture of Constantinople marked the end of the Roman Empire, an imperial state which had lasted for nearly 1,500 years.  The fact that I didn’t realize that Constantinople played such an important part in the downfall of the Roman Empire I would like to blame on the poor schooling back in the 70’s rather than perhaps non-interest in my teen years…

So… a pretty important place both way back when and now…  We will have a good amount of free time in Istanbul… the first full day… and then the next day until the evening when our ship departs.  I am betting that my jet lag will be major as it usually is when going over the pond.  I try my best to get as much out of myself that first day without sleeping until the evening, trying to reset my inner clock, but after 50 years that clock is pretty stubborn.

But if so inclined here are some of the highlights that I might want to pay a visit to: (and with the help of my friend Google while some of these you might well know or have heard about, some of these will be brand-new (to you) ).

The Grand Bazaar:

Grand Bazaar Istanbul TurkeyThere are 5,500-odd vendors in the Grand Bazaar. Shopkeepers cajole and entreat passers-by in a dozen languages, determined not to permit visitors to indulge in such a non-commercial activity as sightseeing. You are not dealing with sales clerks but most likely the owners themselves, or at least a trusted brother or nephew. Many still pay their rent in gold – a hefty seven kilos per year for shops on the main avenue.

Grand Bazaar Istanbul Turkey

I already want one of everything!!!

Fortunately, the perception that hardcore hustling is bad for long-term trade has finally started to sink in among the bazaar traders. Visitors will find the Grand Bazaar a kinder, gentler place than it was years ago. But even the sagacious Mehmed the Conqueror, who founded the covered bazaar in the 1460s, would have been surprised by the plasma screens overhead in the bazaar’s 65 alleys.

Grand Bazaar Istanbul Turkey

I think I am already lost!

Serious shoppers should come armed with a notepad, a calculator for working out exchange rates and plenty of time – three hours is about the minimum needed for a purchasing expedition here. When you find something you like, jot down the price and the location of the seller. Then find the item elsewhere and get more quotes. Continue for as long as you have the patience.

Haghia Sophia:

Haghia Sophia Istanbul Turkey

What a gorgeous place!

Google to the rescue again!  Having never heard of this sacred building before, I came across a very interesting explanation Haghia Sophia Review.  I wanted to just do a little synopsis for you on the blog but after reading a couple of paragraphs I felt that everything was really pretty interesting and as I know what appeals to me might not interest everyone (I thought that the fact it once held the finger of that doubting Apostle Thomas was pretty cool…..) so for a quick read just click on the link.  It reads like a soap opera!

Haghia Sophia Istanbul Turkey

Topkapi Palace:

Topkapi Palace Istanbul TurkeyGlad to hear that this Palace is located right behind the Haghia Sophia… so see one see both.  The Palace was the hub of Ottoman power for over three centuries, until it was superseded by Dolmabahçe Palace in 1853. For lavish decor and exquisite location, it rivals Granada’s Alhambra. (I will have to be the judge of that though… when we went to Spain a couple of years ago I had thought that the Alhambra was magnificent).  But they say that at least half a day is needed to explore Topkapı and that

Topkapi Palace Interior Istanbul Turkey

Oh, oh… the Alhambra might have a rival!

given the high entrance fee you might want to take a full day to get your money’s worth.  We might be a little pushed for time so the must-see features are the Harem (although there’s an extra charge), Imperial Treasury and the views from the innermost courtyard.   Now the Harem?  I might never get Matt out of there!


The Church of St Saviour in Chora

The Church of St Savior in Chora

What beautiful work and so well preserved!

Often overlooked because it’s so far off the beaten track, for Byzantine splendour this church (also known as the Kariye Mosque or Museum) is second only to Haghia Sophia. Built in the late 11th century, its celebrated mosaics and frescoes were added when the church was remodelled in the 14th century.

Depicting all manner of Christian iconography, from the Day of Judgement through to the Resurrection, the works here are arguably the most important surviving examples of Byzantine art in the world, both in terms of their execution and preservation. Ironically, this Christian art owes its excellent condition to the church’s conversion to Islam in the early 16th century, when the frescoes and mosaics were covered over.  They remained concealed until their rediscovery in 1860.

Yerebatan Sarnici

Yerebatan Sarayi Istanbul Turkey

Eerie! But what a marvel of engineering!

Built by the Emperor Justinian at the same time as the Haghia Sophia, it was forgotten for centuries and only rediscovered by a Frenchman, Peter Gyllius, in 1545 when he noticed that people in the neighborhood got water by lowering buckets through holes in their basements.

It’s a tremendous engineering feat, with brick vaults supported on 336 columns spaced at 13-foot  intervals. Prior to restoration in 1987, the cistern could only be explored by boat (James Bond rowed through in From Russia With Love). These days there are concrete walkways. The subdued lighting and subterranean cool are especially welcome on hot days.  Look for the two Medusa heads at the far end from the entrance, both recycled from an even more ancient building and casually employed as column bases.

I hope that this article has peaked your interest a little more into Istanbul.  While the Grand Bazaar is a “must” there are so many other interesting places in the city and on the outskirts that Istanbul is a great destination for more than just a day or two… so many times when I am setting up a client with a cruise that starts or ends here… or a tour, they chose to spend some extra days on their own to discover the city… and you will find that the prices for tours and hotels in Turkey these days are very reasonable!

For more information you know where to find me!  Call 888 877 8464 or email me at or you can post a comment on the blog or visit my website at!

Next week’s blog will outline our next stop on the cruise Kusadasi, Turkey… so you know we will be talking about Ephesus!!

Ephesus Turkey

Ephesus Turkey


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What took me so long???

What are we still doing here???

I have been home from my last trip for a month and 2 days… and yet I haven’t made a peep about any future travel… so unlike me!

Well, peep peep peep…. my next jaunt has been decided upon, booked and mostly paid for (what is left?  AIRFARE!  I hate airfare pricing… even though I am a “professional” I still never know when is the perfect time to bite the bullet….)  I monitor usually for at least a good couple of months and hope that magically one day I will log on and find that the fares have dropped hundreds of dollars… unfortunately (or fortunately since it makes me stress out) I don’t have that much time for this trip…  we are less than 2 months away so I have to “you know what or get off the pot” soon.

Crystal Serenity

Our ship the Serenity! What a great name!

“Where are you going Suzanne?”  Well I am so glad that you asked!  We are off sailing on the high seas this time and not a river (I heard you all gasp!)  This go around we will be sailing with Crystal Cruises on their Crystal Serenity (With just a little over 1,000 passengers and a 2:1 ratio we will still get that wonderful experience that we are used to when sailing on the smaller river cruises).

A couple of years ago we sailed with Crystal on their other ship the Symphony so we are really excited to see how the Serenity differs!

And where will we be off to?  Well this is also a pleasant surprise that every port will be a destination that I have never been to!  I am just marking tons off my Bucket List with this trip aren’t I?

Crystal Serenity Istanbul to RomeThe name of the itinerary we chose is Crystal Getaways, which is a shorten itinerary from their Roman Empire Exploration cruise.  Crystal decided this year to offer shorter legs in conjunction with their longer journeys.  Perfect for those of us that can’t take 2 weeks off for vacation.  The original cruise was Istanbul to Barcelona.  Considering that I had been to the stops between Rome and Barcelona I opted to leave the ship in Rome and spend extra days there vs. on the ship.  I think it is a smart move on Crystal’s part to allow passengers to almost create their own cruise itinerary!

We will start off in Istanbul spending 2 days before we set sail to Kusadisi, Turkey (a nice day at sea sailing the Dardanelles).  Then a visit to Mykonos, Greece, a day of sailing the Mediterranean Sea then on to Sicily/Catania, Italy; Naples, Italy and ending in Rome! (now I have been to Rome but that was years ago and it was cold and rainy, hopefully this time it will be different).

Trevi Fountain at night

See, I brought Ilyse to Rome with me also… what a nice Mom I am!

We will spend a couple of extra days in Rome on our own so that Matt can see the sights.  And this just dawned on me, last time I threw some coins in the Trevi Fountain so I guess that really does work!  Look I am coming back!

So over the coming weeks I will be focusing on what to do in each of these ports, more information about the ship itself, what we will be doing in Rome afterwards and of course I will tell you the most important thing:  how much money did I end up spending on that damn airfare….  I can tell you right now, if I want to just change planes once on the way there and back I can only fly US Air and right now that pricing flying from Charlotte to Istanbul and Rome back to Charlotte is $1,900.00 pp.  So unless pigs start sprouting wings I guess I am going to have to suck it up and change planes a couple of times in each direction.  If I bite the bullet and do that I am looking at fares that range from $1,100 – $1,400  pp depending on the airline.  What is on my wish list?  Lufthansa… what is on my no-way-in-hell list?  Probably British Airways (last time I flew them I was really disappointed with the condition of the plane).

As always, if you would like any help in planning your own vacation you know where to find me!  Visit my website Champagne Vacations or call (888) 877-8464 or send me an email at!

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There is a Battle a “Brewing”!

The mountains of Western North Carolina have seen many battles over the years…. early settlers and the Cherokee Indians, the Rebels and the Yanks.. but just when you think that there is Peace now in the Valley I am here to report otherwise!

Living in Charlotte we have the best of both worlds.  We are just about 3 hours to the beaches and a little shorter distance to the mountains.  I am not a beach kind of girl but I do love my mountains!  So when we want to take a quick getaway we usually head up to the Maggie Valley – Cherokee area of WNC (Western North Carolina for ya’ll that don’t know).  Really truth be told it is the Cherokee Casino that draws us but it doesn’t hurt that the location is so scenic.

So this past weekend we decided that a quick one night getaway would be a good refueling for the soul and we set out on Saturday to do just that.  But this time we decided that rather than stay up at the Casino we would just drive and find someplace with availability in Maggie Valley.

Jonathan's Creek Inn Maggie Valley NC

We found a great place with Jonathon Creek Inn and Villas.  Located on a creek (thus the name) the hotel was very clean, reasonably priced and their area out back on the creek had many picnic tables, swings and grilling areas.  The perfect getaway!

While we were checking in we asked about the pancake house across the street called “Joey’s Pancake House”.  Having been to Cherokee many times we always pay a visit to “Peter’s Pancakes and Waffles” which we were told by the employees at Cherokee had “the best pancakes in the area”.  So you can imagine our shock when the gal at the hotel told us the Joey’s “blew away Peters”… them is fighting words and we are always ready for a fight!  We decided that the next morning we would put Joey to the test!

Joey's Pancake House Maggie Valley NC

Will Joey win the battle of the Pancakes???

And I hope that you all appreciate my efforts because technically I am on a diet trying to lose 10 lbs before my 50th birthday next month… so far I am thinking of legally changing my birthday and delaying it by about 2 more months because I think that now I might have to lose about 12 lbs….

Peter's Pancakes and Waffles, Cherokee NC

All I can say is Yummy!

Peter’s Pancakes we fell in love with first because of the view off their backroom of the restaurant… a beautiful creek runs through it… wonderful to sit and look at while sipping a cup of their strong coffee.  The service is good, the waitresses are always very personable.  The only negative that I could come up with would be that the decor is a little dated and perhaps a little more cleaning in the public areas could be done… but their sanitation grading is still very high.


The first time we ate there Matt ordered a waffle and I ordered sausage gravy and biscuits… both were awesome, but the waffle blew everything away!  It was delicious.. so much so that the next morning we came back for breakfast again and we both ordered the waffles.  Matt had eggs and bacon added to his.  We asked if they sold the mix and she said that they just bought it at the store… (I have yet to find it)  Again it was wonderful and we left dreaming of another return visit to Cherokee primarily for the waffles because the Casino has been really just very mean to us lately!

Peters is open from 6:30 am to 2:00 pm where you can get breakfast during that whole time.  A family owned business which I believe has been around since the 60’s.

So frankly, Joey’s had a lot to live up to!  We arrived to breakfast on Sunday morning a little after 10 am.  The restaurant is open from 7 am – Noon and they have been in business they tell us since 1966.

We were told by all that we asked that there is always a wait and they were right, but the gals that run the front area really ran it like clockwork.  We were told about a 10 minute wait and they were right on.  While we sat there waiting, they gave us some complimentary coffee and we had wonderful views from the full glass waiting area of the surrounding mountains.

When our number was called we were very excited to enter their “inner sanctum” that was not visible from the waiting area.  To our delight we entered the restaurant that was bright and full of some of the most beautiful Dahlias at every table I had ever seen (locally grown).  The tables were clean, the display areas that held their cups and various souvenirs with their Joey’s Pancake logos were also gleaming.  I would have to say in the battle of the cleanliness Joey’s won hands down.

I ordered the Blueberry Pancakes and an order of chipped beef on toast (from my army years always a favorite of mine)  Matt ordered one of their specials which was pancakes, eggs and bacon and he added in the hash brown casserole for an additional .90.

Our food arrived very quickly… and when we took our initial bites our eyes locked across the table and it was love at first bite “WOW” was all we could say.  We knew in that moment that the battle was over as far as we were concerned… Joey’s had won, hands down.  While Peter’s is really great food, Joey’s pancakes melted in your mouth.. you know how you eat some pancakes and they are like lead in your stomach?  Very heavy?  These were so light that I think I could have eaten half a dozen and not even batted an eye!

Joey's Pancake House Maggie Valley, NCPricing between the two is very comparable.  Menu choices you will find more on Joey’s than Peter’s.  Joey’s sells their pancake mix, something that I would suggest that Peter also do because I would have bought some that first day we went.  Did I buy Joey’s? No because I always need an excuse to go back up to the mountains!

For more information on both restaurants you can visit their sites!  Joey’s Pancake House  or Peter’s Pancakes and Waffles.

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Do you need to revisit your Bucket List? Our last day in Paris!

All good things must come to an end.. or so “they” say.  Our last day in Paris was a memorable one to say the least.

This morning at breakfast I had a run in with a renegade bowl of oatmeal!  How exciting… the doctor was called to the ship and he fixed me all up but I ended up with 2nd degree burns on my wrist and hand.  I am a trooper though and the show must go on.  I did send Ilyse off on a morning excursion of the Latin Quarter and Notre Dame Cathedral while I waited for the doctor to arrive (he looked more like an artist you would find painting on the Seine…  flip flop sandals, cargo shorts and long wild gray hair)

What was the most exciting thing that she saw while on the walking tour?  A bridge of locks!  Just near Notre Dame; people have taken over a bridge by locking pad-locks to the bridge’s railings. Locks have love messages or hearts on them. They’re called “locks of love” and are very symbolic as you can see but hey Ilyse.. what did you think of the Cathedral?  “It was nice”…. hmmm

Paris Locks of Love Bridge near Notre DameReminded me of Juliet’s Balcony in Verona, Italy where notes are stuck to the walls.

Louvre Museum Paris France Venus de MiloBefore oatmeal changed my life that morning, we had planned to go to the Louvre Museum and spend the whole day there.  We were able though to modify the plans and instead took an afternoon optional tour with the ship that brought us to 4 or 5 of the most famous art works in the Louvre.

If you wanted to see every piece of art in the museum, and could spend 5 seconds in front of each, I believe the guide said it would take 8 months to view everything!  She said that they are currently working on the two “new” Louvre Museums.  One will be in the north of France and one will be in Dubai.

The tour took us to Venus de Milo, The Winged Victory, various painting of Leonardo’s but you can see after just a couple of hours many of us on the tour were staring aimlessly in Art-Overload.  I did have a purpose though.. trying to read the icons on my damn camera that I can’t see without my reading glasses!

Louvre Museum Paris France

Okay.. now is Best Shot good for indoor or would that be the picture of the face?

Louvre Museum Paris France

Ah… apparently I could figure it out because here is Ilyse taking my picture while I take hers… with MJ and Verna our new best friends resting beside her!

And here comes the body of the teaser in my headline of this blog.  I had been to the Louvre many moons ago (as many moons as you can fit in a 30 year span).  My whole purpose of going back was so that Ilyse could also see the Mona Lisa… one of the few times in my life that I totally remember everything about it… entering the room.. seeing the guard standing next to it… Mona in her plexi-glass case… and I just stood and stared thinking “Wow, I am actually standing here looking at the Mona Lisa”.  I have seen many pieces of art since then all over Europe but I best remember that moment.  It was more memorable than my first marriage. (and maybe the second one too).

Mona Lisa Paris France Louvre Museum

Wow, Mona… you and I haven’t changed a bit! (I too travel surrounded by a plexi-glass case)

But when we entered the Louvre from the underground parking lot… walking past the Food Court and McDonalds at the entrance to the shopping mall and then rounded the corner to see the inverted pyramid I had to ask the guide “When did all of this happen???”  1989 or so she tells me.. ah.. I was here in 1982.  I felt much the same way I did when I went back to the Hoover Dam last year after about a 25 year hiatus.  “Where did that bridge come from?  Wow look at this parking garage!  Where is the little building that shows the movie?”  It was like I was there for the very first time!

Louvre Museum Pyramid

These two gentleman look familiar. I think I saw them the first time I was there!

So, word to the wise… if you have been working on your bucket list like I have been for over 30 years now, you might have to pay a second visit to some… you will be amazed at what the world has been doing while you have been busy living your life!

All in all it was a wonderful trip on the Seine.  On a cruise that I didn’t really go on with any huge expectations but walked away with wonderful memories and the knowledge that I will be coming back to the Normandy area again and there won’t be 30 years between visits!

Broken record time but I always have to say, you meet the best people on river cruises!  Those that love travel and history.  Ready to head out and conquer the day!  Ilyse and I started out on this adventure just the two of us but ended it with many new friends and lots of stories to tell.  I want to thank everyone that cruised with us and all of you that have          joined us via my blog.  I will leave you with some closing pictures.

Au revoir, A bientot, A demain and Adieu!  

Louvre Museum

Two stunning works of art at the Louvre!

Louvre Museum Mona Lisa

The whole purpose of the trip is to see this face! (Ilyse’s not Mona’s)

Notice the pickpocket signs on each side of the picture.  The Louvre is one of the highest areas in Paris with pickpockets… and I swear as I was there I saw quite a few people that looked like that was their sole purpose in the museum.  So be-aware!

Louvre Museum Paris France

So many rooms were totally different than the first time I went there. I was like a whole new experience for me!

Paris and Normandy River Cruise River Baroness

Some of our favorite dinner guests! Verna, MJ, myself, Jan, Ilyse & Michael! Une bonne alimentation!

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If you’ve got the Monet…. I’ve got the time!

I crack myself up sometimes!

Well, our river cruise is coming to an end soon… just today and then our last full day in Paris tomorrow… this morning we woke up in Vernon, France… the town closest to one of today’s highlights the Gardens and Home of Claude Monet located in Giverny, France.

Today is going to be an interesting day for many reasons.. while we wake up in Vernon and take the bus to Claude’s place… the ship will move and when we are done we will actually catch the ship in Mantes-la-Jolie.  After we have our lunch on the ship some of us will be travelling on to see the Palace of Versailles as an optional tour while others will stay on the ship as it sails to Conflans St. Honorine.  It stays there just long enough for the Versailles people to rejoin the ship and then it is off to Paris… so while we are traveling on land, the ship is traveling up the Seine to join us.  Very interesting as I have never been on a river cruise where the ship relocated while we were on land and so many times!

Claude Monet House and Gardens

One of the many flower-lined paths that lead to Claude’s House

So… one of the highlights of today is the House and Garden of Claude Monet.  Claude spent the last 40 or so years of his life in Giverny.  At first he rented this home and later he bought it and some of the surrounding land.  Claude’s love of painting ran equally to his love of gardening… I can relate (just to the gardening.. the only painting I do are rooms in my house).

Claude Monet's Pond

The reflections of the surrounding plants on the pond are beautiful.

We started with his fish pond which was the inspiration of many of his paintings… as the guide explained the lighting of the area and how it comes through the trees and plants and reflects off the stillness of the water.   Just take a look at this picture of the lily pads.. it is hard to figure out what is coming out of the water and what isn’t… but this is just a picture of lily pads… all the other shapes and flowers or trees are just a reflection from above on the water.. beautiful (thanks Ilyse… great photo!!)

The area was packed… so unfortunately many of our pictures of the serene pond shows rows and rows of people also trying to take that perfect shot of the pond…. while August is the month that many French go on vacation and leave the country it is also the month that it seems that the rest of the world comes to visit!

Monet Gardens

The “real” worker of the Monet Gardens!

Claude Monet GardensWe left the pond and walked up to the house area… we were given time to wander through the gardens and then visit the home itself… of course afterwards there is that ever present gift shop that is set up in what would be Claude’s last painting studio that was built shortly before his death.. (could he foresee the 21st Century and our need for Monet coffee mugs, lighters and calenders?)  Just down the road there is also a small museum that focuses on other impressionist painters also.  We had time to walk through that as well.

After we took the motor coaches back to the ship.. had our lunch and then Ilyse and I were on our way to the Palace of Versailles.  I have never been and I was very excited to see what has been described as the most opulent Palace ever built.

Palace of Versailles

I am thinking of incorporating something similar at my house….

Some facts (naturally that I found interesting because after all this is my blog) surrounding the Palace:

The palace is 51,000 square meters (550 sq ft), has 2,153 windows, 67 staircases, and nearly 2000 acres of gardens

Construction of the palace cost around 116,438,892 Livres. Today, this amounts to approximately 2 billion dollars

The garden is just as impressive as the palace, covering 1,976 acres (800 hectares) in a structured French Garden style. It has 200,000 trees, 50 fountains with 620 jets of water, and 210,000 flowers planted every year

The Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors in 1919, ending World War I

Now this last fact leads nicely to my next photo.  My whole adult life I had heard about the Hall of Mirrors.. seen pictures… have visited other European castles and palaces that have imitated bits and pieces so to say that I was excited about seeing the Hall was really an understatement.  So as we progressed through the Palace.. seeing various sitting rooms, chapels and what not we round the corner to see the Hall and what do I find?

Palace of Versailles Hall of Mirrors

Excuse me… Pardon me… Sorry… Excuse me…

Yes what seems to be 1,000 of my closest friends also standing around the Hall of Mirrors… now maybe the reflection of the mirrors might have made it seem like 1,000 but I would say that there were at least a couple of hundred people in that hall.. all bumping and crowding etc.  It was basically that way throughout the whole time we were at the Palace.. now looking at the grounds was very nice because it was a little less confining.  The Palace was beautiful to look at but unfortunately when you have so many people packed in at one time it did take away from the experience… I might go back one day and if so maybe during the winter months it might not be so crowded?  What I would really go back to see again though would be the Gardens!

Palace of Versailles Gardens

The flowers were beautiful even though in August many plants were past their peak blooming time

Palace of Versailles Gardens

Ah! Some breathing space! The Gardens are actually very lovely and next time I think I might just stay outside!

Here is a hint… I hear that they rent Golf Carts so that you can travel around all of the Gardens without having to walk them.  This is a great idea if you have someone traveling with you (or yourself) that would love to venture out to see all the grounds but would have issues with walking those long distances.

Hey, those Mirrors were good for something! I think they took 10 years off my face!

All in all it was a very long day filled with so much to see.  Ilyse had a wonderful time as did I.  Tomorrow is the last full day of the cruise… tonight is the Captain’s Farewell Dinner and we celebrated Ilyse’s 16th Birthday on board!  As always she was the Belle of the Ball!

I have taught her well… always get in good with the Head Chef and Waiter!

I hope you have been enjoying my travels through the north of France.  Tomorrow everything will be coming to an end, but remember, if this has gotten those wheels turning in your head of a visit to France… you know who to call!  (Hey… my credit card bill is due to arrive any day now…  oh là là !!


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Honfleur, France…. we have arrived!

Honfleur France

Honfleur France

One of the highlights of the Paris and Normandy river cruise… or even any ocean liner cruise that docks at Le Havre, France is the small harbor town of Honfleur.  Today’s photos are all shot by my daughter Ilyse.. so you are seeing the town of Honfleur through the photo lens of a 16-year-old…

Restaurants of HonfleurTalk to anyone that has visited this town and they all say the same thing… they loved it and would go back again in a heartbeat.  When I Googled to see what the translation of the town’s name would mean instead I found a definition of the town on Wikipedia:

It is especially known for its old, beautiful picturesque port, characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists, including in particular Claude Monet, Eugene Boudin, Gustave Courbet and Johan Jongkind.  Now I am not going to try to pretend that I know a lot about art, I love looking at it but I don’t know one from another, except Monet which tomorrow’s blog will be about as we visited his Gardens and Home on our sail back down the Seine River to Paris.

Honfleur France ShoppingAll I can say though is I can see what the draw would be for an artist.  The harbor with all its boats, the cafes lining the harbor with its bright colors and all the many shops lining the narrow streets.   And as you can see, Ilyse loved all the shops!  She finished up her souvenir shopping for all her friends!  We also visited it’s church St. Stephen’s which is built entirely of wood and when you enter and look up to the ceiling it reminds you of the hull of a ship.

Lunch at a cafe in Honfleur France

Excuse me sir looking at the camera over my shoulder, I don’t remember telling you to “smile”.

Another draw of Honfleur is its seafood.  Here you can find every type of seafood imaginable.  For our lunch we chose one of the cafes on the harbor and ordered what I call their Complete Menu but I am sure that it has a more formal name than that.  What it is is you pick one option from their listed appetizers, main course and then dessert and you get it at a set price.  We paid 13.90 each and had a ton of food for lunch.  I ordered snails, mussels and chocolate mousse… Ilyse did the same except she said no to the snails and had something called fried cheese… which she said she didn’t know what kind of cheese it was but it tasted wonderful!

Snails in Honfleur France


We had two options while visiting Honfleur that Uniworld offered.  We could come in for a guided tour and spend about an hour shopping and then take the motorcoach back to the ship and have lunch on board and spend the afternoon visiting the port of Caudebec-en-Caux where we were docked or you could spend more time in Honfleur and have lunch and do more shopping and take the motorcoach back around 3 pm.  As you can tell we chose the second option… which when we arrived back to the ship Ilyse went on shore with another couple to see the local church which our guide had told us was very pretty.  I opted to take a quick nap on the sun deck as the weather was really beautiful and frankly I was really tired!!  It is hard vacationing!!

That evening as a past guest of Uniworld we had a little cocktail party where the captain, Pierre and the hotel manager Sebastian came around to each table to talk and to thank us for returning to sail with them again…

At 6:00 pm we set sail for Vernon and tomorrow’s visit to Claude Monet’s House and Gardens!

Lunching in Honfleur France

Don’t you wish you were 16 again?

Honfleur France Fish Market

Here is the welcoming committee for Honfleur!

Honfleur France

My daughter, the Queen of the Self Photo.. these kids are going to grow up one day and find that one of their arms is longer than the other!

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