|Today we are in Le Harve France. The tour started after we left the ship late for someone unknown reason. We could have cleared customs late or some other reason, but we were to first meet the tour at 7:45am. Last night the ship paper listed the time as 8:00am. We had time for breakfast and then a quick check of the email to see if there was any news on Coqui. She had been having problems with her back legs. The email was there and said she was in better shape with a different medication. The original medication, prednisone, seemed to make her drunk. Well this was good news for the start of our day.
We got away from the ship at about 8:25am. This would be no problem for us as our tour ended midday. This was a real problem for those headed to Paris on one of the high $ tours. The ship was to sail at 7:00pm with all on board at 6:30pm. We have about a 90 minute drive to Rouen for our trip.
Our trip to Rouen with the ship crosses the river Seine near the mouth of the river. The bridge was only built in the late 1950's. Rouen is home of many middle age style buildings. It is picturesque, but also modern. The first stop is the cathedral after our 90 minute drive. I did paperwork on the way to Rouen. The paperwork was the exit survey and another survey about the ship excursions. I also wrote postcards to Reed and Hannah. We have now arrived at Rouen and see the massive gothic cathedral.
The cathedral is one of the three or four largest in France and dates back to 1100's. It has statues all over the outside. The cathedral was also the subject of over 30 paintings by Claude Monet. It is massive with a huge tower that is under repair. Some of the many statues were brought into the church for safety from the elements.
One of the strange things was there were not many stained glass windows in the church. The church has two stained glass panels dedicated to the life of Joan of Arc. Rouen is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. The cathedral is also home to the heart of Richard the Lionhearted. Richard was King of England, but was also Duke of Normandy. His body is buried in England, but his heart is here and this is per his own request. Rouen is in the heart of Normandy. I shot pictures in the cathedral and of the stained glass, interior, King Richard's tomb and the exterior of the church.
We left the tour and walked through the town. They have refurbished the town and put in new store fronts in the bottom of the buildings. This quite appropriate with the historical idea of these homes as the original purpose was to have merchandising in the bottom floor and then living space above the sales floor. It is however quite strange to see The Body Shop or McDonalds in the bottom of a middle age style house. You could call this when the past meets the future in a paradoxical blend of new old world style.
We ended the tour with a stop at the market. It was market day this Friday. The market is similar to the Public Market in Seattle. It was re-built in 1977 and blends with a modern church dedicated to Joan of Arc that was also built at the same time. The roof of the market and church symbolizes flames. There is a space in the market where there are flowers to mark Joan of Arc and a large Cross about 20 feet tall on the spot where she was burned.
The market has fresh fish and produce. You could see the shine on the peppers and cherries. I took some pictures inside the market, though I don't think that I did much to capture the atmosphere of the market. The air was filled with the smell of fresh fish and fresh bread. We had a fresh loaf of French bread while we waited to board the bus.
We made it back to the ship and looked at the tourist junk at the port. Mom, Dad and Kim recalled the time two years ago when we were here in port at Le Harve. The town was a ghost town then as all were on holiday and had rolled up the sidewalks before they left. The town was busier today, but they still joked about going to walk around the town.
We had time for lunch and then packing. We are being smart and packing early so that we can enjoy the rest of the day and evening instead of staying up late at night like most people do. I also went to the purser's desk to check our account when no one was there and the tours were still out. During dinner and throughout the night and early in the AM, the lines will be impossibly long.
I also previously secured luggage tags so that we could get off with the first passengers instead of waiting until called. This allows us the freedom to do as we feel in leaving since we do not pick up luggage, but carry our own off the ship. Almost the entire ship is required to and needs to put out their luggage in the hall the night before we leave. Then you cannot leave until your luggage is unloaded on the pier and this is done by color luggage tag depending on when your flight or other departure time is arranged.
With this done, we had time for a leisurely dip in the hot tub and pool before dinner. This was really relaxing for both of us. I mentioned that the buses would be late. We watched them come in all through dinner. The last bus arrived finally and we departed at about 8:00pm. I then went to the last show and enjoyed the violinist and the singer. His jokes are corny, but he was a good guitar player. I came back to the room; we had finished the last little load of laundry and packed the last items. We had given Mom and Dad two packages to bring home for us and they got them packed in their luggage.
We could not have had a better time sharing the trip with friends on the ship that we met through the Internet. It seems likely that we might be able to arrange to share an African Photo Safari with Steve and Rose Marie (live in Florida) during next year's Spring Break. That would be too cool. Time for bed after watching Spanglish on TV.