LES ANDELYS, FRANCE – After a long Sunday we began our cruise down the Seine river early at 5:30 Monday morning to begin our journey back to Le Pecq just outside of Paris.
The trip had gone by so quickly, but it had been great so far and my time in Les Andelys would be great as well.
That morning on our journey I got some work finished and listened in on the cooking class on how to make a lemon tart. I even gave out a few pointers to some people beside me.
Arriving just after lunch we docked there in the small town to have an afternoon hike up to the Château Gaillard, a medieval castle, which was a beautiful sight to see.
In the United States walking to and from places is unheard of, but not in Europe where everybody walks and the trip up the hillside was a nice hike up.
For lunch that day I was tempted by some ice cream and made the mistake of eating it because my afternoon was full of outdoor activity.
As I made it up to the ruins I took in the beautiful views of the French countryside, but also the ruins themselves.
I completed the journey up the hill rather quickly and began my journey across the town to some bluffs that overlooked the city and river, which Ken Dermer had suggested that I do to do something different.
As I came down I saw Donna and Brad Beardmore along with Mary Jane Coffman with a tour group listening in on the history of homes in the area and French history. I stopped and began walking over when their tour guide asked me if I belonged with the Viking group.
I said yes, but she told me that I looked like a French man instead of an American due to my good looks and charming personality (Well she never said the second part, but I knew.)
However, she said that after a second glace she noticed that I smiled a lot and knew I was not French. I never knew the French did not smile much, until I began observing after that moment.
After the discussion about my French looks, I headed off to go on my hike on the nearly 90-degree day, which is rather hot in France.
The hike up was amazing, despite having too much ice cream. It was peaceful to see the bees pollinating the flowers and two French-speaking individuals hiking as well.
It was a nice time to relax and burn a few calories since there was no gym on the ship.
After my hike, I walked about two miles to the larger town and found the cheapest sparkling water every. The entire normal soda bottle was only around 25 cents.
Arriving back at the ship at around 5 p.m., I freshened up and went to dinner with everybody to enjoy some good lamb.
Once dinner was finished I thought I would give the crème brûlée another try, but being extremely disappointed I gave up and had my dessert in another form.
Right before dinner, we began sailing down the Seine and that evening I spent the evening talking with Leroy Coffman’s children out on the top deck as we passed beautiful chateau and watched the sky go by.
It was cool to see the ship navigate its way through locks on the river. When it slipped into the locks there was no more than a foot on either side of the ship, but the captains made it through.
After being out for several hours I got some reading done and headed off to bed for our last full day in France.
We had arrived back in Le Pecq sometime overnight and it was a slow morning for me and Leroy.
I spent the morning working from a Starbucks in the city, which was nearly a 20-minute hike up a hill but was able to finally get some decent internet.
It was Donna’s birthday and I was in charge of getting some decorations, flowers and a birthday card. Needless to say, you never send somebody to a flower shop who loves flowers and used to help in the floral department.
Finding a florist was not easy, but after about 30-minutes I stumbled upon one and she was able to create a beautiful bouquet of roses, aster and another local flower, which the name escaped me.
I was able to make it back to the ship without her seeing them since the three children had gone on an excursion that morning.
Once we finished with lunch Donna and Mary Jane headed off to the grocery store and once they returned I had Dermer give the flowers to her as Leroy and I watched.
Donna did not even think they were for her, but Dermer had to finally explain that they were for her.
It was an uplifting afternoon to see her marvel at the beautiful bouquet.
Afterward, I cleaned up and headed off to Paris for a meeting with Catherine Webster, dean of the Liberal Arts College at the University of Central Oklahoma, along with her family and another alumnus who was traveling through Paris.
We all met up at Chez Plumeau, a local pub near the Montmartre art district.
However, since I am no expert on traveling by rail in Paris I arrived extremely early and began writing my story about my experiences of the Normandy beaches at a café in a nearby neighborhood.
Once we all got there to have a drink we all had a great time and enjoyed lighthearted conversations.
While the French like to eat late, I wanted to make it back to the ship just in time to see Donna receive her birthday cake, so I had to leave at around 7 p.m. for the hour-and-a-half journey,
I arrived just in the nick of time as they were lighting the candles; somehow time was on my side. But, getting dinner was a hassle since I arrived late.
Luckily the kitchen still had a little bit of food at the bottom of the barrel.
Afterward, I spent the rest of the evening reading up on the sundeck before calling it a night in anticipation for a day of travel back home.
On a side note, I enjoyed my time in Paris and the people I got to meet along the way.
Making lifelong friend where ever I go has always been important to me, whether that was Ivana Boškovic, who did an excellent job of cleaning our rooms and even making an elephant out of towels, to Dorel who managed to remember my name and sparkling water with limes every time I walked past the bar.
The river cruise may not be my preferred option of travel at this point in my life, but anywhere I go I know the Lord has a plan.
Featured Photo: A view from atop the bluffs overlooking the valley of Les Andelys on Monday.