Greenwich England, 10 June 2019

The Last Post from Azamara Journey, 10 June 2019, Greenwich England

This morning we were required to attend in the lounge for immigration officials to have a face to face meeting with each and every soul on the ship. Immigration was very fast. We produced our Passports and room key card. We had breakfast and grabbed each an umbrella. Heading out to Greenwich today in a torrential rain storm, to check wifi, to arrange for transfer to airport tomorrow, to do our on-line check-in for our Westjet flights, to catch a glimpse of the Prime Meridian.

The ship is actually tendered mid-river. Many bus-type boats for moving people along the river, up to London, to various stops along the way. Efficient catamaran for transport from the ship to shore. It goes very fast, produces little wake. It goes up and down the river with different docking places, ours was one stop along today.

Once safely on shore, we found the Tourism Information area, not yet opened so we waited in the rain with our umbrellas from the ship, large blue with Azamara logo identifying us as from the cruise ship. The wifi was available outside the building before the office opened so we huddled, I posted a few blog posts to catch up. Once it opened at 10 am, we went in and enjoyed catching up on the issues that needed wifi connection. The wifi on the ship is sketchy at best, does not work well in staterooms, have to stand in the Hallway or go up to some of the common areas on ship. I heard lots of people complain that often it was not available at all.

We walked toward the beautiful park, in search of the Prime Meridian. We entered the museum and an accommodating staff person walked us through and gave very helpful directions. It was a beautiful walk way …. trees overhead, lovely paved area. Stunning actually. The Greenwich Park is beautiful, lush and green, well manicured, beautiful trees and flowers, benches to rest at. Large 180 plus acres of green-land!

We continued to walk in the rain around the park and through some of the city, along cobblestones, by residences, enjoying being in this lovely place, despite being completely soaked up to our knees! Shoes were squishy filled with water.

Back to the ship for our afternoon nap, some food and a restful afternoon talking, looking out at the village along the river, packing up our suitcases for our adventure home tomorrow.

Goodnight my friends and family, Thanks for following

Stay tuned for my next travel adventure ….

Pamela

Greenwich England. 10 June 2019

A self-guided Greenwich England walking tour, a leisurely plan for the tomorrow. We will find wifi and post recent blog posts so you all can know the events of the last few days. Come with us on the walking tour of this world famous destination.

“The ma.l.in purpose of the Observatory was to measure and monitor time and the most famous aspect of the Observatory from this purpose: The Prime Meridian. At 0 degrees longitude, the Greenwich Meridian marks the point where all time around the world is measured. The Prime Meridian was established in 1851 and gained international use by 1884. A stainless steel strip in the courtyard marks the line and since 1999 there has also been a green laser that shines down 0 degrees.” To help people synchronize their clocks to Greenwich Mean Time, the Astronomer Royal in 1833, John Pond, had the time ball installed on top of the Observatory. The ball drops daily at 1 pm all-year-round.

We will see the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (joins the two sides of the Thames River), the Millenium Dome (opened 1 January 2000), and the Cutty Sark (built in 1869, retired in 1954, was once believed to be the fastest freight ship in the world. Damaged by fire in May 2007 and undergone 35 million pound restoration, now open to the public).

It is 630 am on Monday 10 June 2019, we are backing up along the Thames River. We see industrial buildings first, then commercial business high rises and now rows of dense residential areas. Background is very tall towers, bank and other business names. A single jogger in the rain. Sea gulls a plenty circling around our ship. Very tall, very grey, lots of glass and golden cranes bending over the roof tops. Brown river water, slowly we creep along to our parking spot. Palm trees on rooftops, balconies and dog walkers. It is all very curious! Single walker with umbrella along the walkway across the river. Our balcony is on the water side as we park this cruise ship. According to a map, about 6 to 8 kilometers from downtown centre of London! It will be interesting to explore this area today. Big tug boats and sea gulls gathered and surrounding our ship this morning as the docking procedure continues … it is now 7:10 am and we still seem to be continuing to move in a backward motion, slowly inching our way along. Another single walker across the river. 7:30 am and we are stopped, the tug boats have left us now.

Joggers, cyclists, dog walkers and folks out walking with umbrellas. Residential area with a lovely river-side walk way. Ducks / geese with long necks floating by over by the wall. Planes overhead. We are tied up now to huge buoys in the river … apparently to expect a tender system provided by the city (not using Azamara small tender boats). According to the information desk yesterday, the tender system runs all the time as we are parked, docked, tied-up until the ship departs with new guests tomorrow.

Security advises we must go through immigration on the ship, with London England officials by showing our passports and attending face-to-face with their team coming on board. Our scheduled time is 9 am …. still a few hours to rise and watch the process. Today’s project is also to find a suitable drive into London Gatwick for our ride to airport tomorrow as we will be leaving early in the morning. One more sleep. I am coming home!

Sea Day. 9 June 2019. Left France. En route to England

Last evening after dinner, we sat on the top deck, the Living Room it is called on board the Azamara Journey cruise ship. Front row view in comfy chairs, deck 10, for more than 3 hours as we sailed with swans along the Seine. I took pictures … I wrote these words …

“Wow. Spectacular. Fancy Triplets playing favourite songs.

Perfectly manicured lawns and hedges surrounding beautiful estate homes, mansions facing the mighty and peaceful Seine River. Farms on the other side of the river, acres of greenery. Tree lined walkways and paved paths.

Flocks of birds in formation leading us up this beautiful river. This is an amazing sight. A highlight of the trip and the reason we sail on small ships in Europe.

Caravans of camper trailers. Families of swans peacefully meandering alongside our boutique sailing home. The sun in the clear blue sky is preparing to set behind the green full trees. It’s so peaceful and busy. The colours of the sky catch my breath.

Occasional church steeples on the horizon. Hello yellow golden glow. Swans creating ripples in v formation. Horses in the field. Flowers atop fence posts. Limestone cliffs, sandy beaches. Trees bending in reverence.

Sailing boats tied up at the ready. Tall 4 story old homes stately, dignified, coloured paint, brick and stone, half timber, sloped roofs. More swans. A mating pair. And another. Families of 4 or 5. Getting ready for slow summer night on the Seine.”

It was a relaxing sea day today. We went for a walk and run this morning. A day of relaxation, enjoying the meals, free laundry. Recognizing this as the last day aboard this cruise ship, appreciation of the food, the activities, entertainment. We had German traditional meal, British cuisine, chocolate buffet. A view of behind the scenes at the Cabaret hosted by Eric, the cruise director … for over an hour of Q and A. As well as Eric deGray show tonight, singing Broadway and then a tribute to ABBA. Costumes, singing, humour, talent, fun, standing ovation. This is a spectacular cruiseline with a lot to offer.

Tomorrow we explore Greenwich England. We will find and arrange a transfer to Gatwich airport for the following morning as we depart for Home. Stay tuned.

Thanks for following, I am coming home!!

Love Pamela

Rouen France. Day 2. 8 June 2019

Good day folks, thanks for following along with us as we have travelled from Victoria BC Canada to Barcelona Spain, then Cadiz, up coast of Portugal (Lisbon and Porto), several stops in France (Saint Malo, Cherbourg, Honfleur)…. as we prepare to leave Rouen France, today is our last stop on mainland Europe.

A sea day tomorrow, followed by Greenwich England and then nice flight home, direct this time :). Westjet, London Gatwick to Vancouver and then a quick hop over to Victoria by Tuesday afternoon 11 June 2019.

Today, with rain on the forecast, we bundled up after a leisurely breakfast and grabbed the large bus shuttle to town. Our intention to walk over the bridge and walk along the Tall Ships exhibition here in beautiful Rouen, on the Seine River in France. The rain held off, the crowds were building, 5 entrances, free admission but security present creating some line-ups to get in. Families, young and old, friends, single walkers, tourists and locals all seemed happy to be walking along the promenade. Many lining up to step foot on and tour around the ships themselves.

Several countries have pavilions … Canada selling maple syrup products from Quebec, Russia selling stacking colorful dolls, Cuba selling interesting bright colored food served in edible dishes. I noticed the Swiss tent but don’t recall what they were featuring. Flags flying proudly in the wind, beckoning walkers to take a closer look.

The promenade spread out about two kilometers on both sides of the Seine, with 50 Tall Ships from around the world, open air tour boats taking people to view from the river, for photo opportunities. We kept our eye on each other walking as the crowds got more and more dense, people stopping at white tents for purchasing sweets, baked products, mouilles frites, beverages, souvenirs of the Armada 2019, leather goods, cheeses, wines. One tent hosted huge, larger than life-size pink plastic pigs drawing attention to their food being cooked over fire pits, pigs on racks rotating, stacks of wood to add to the fire. Never seen anything like that before! Otherwise it had the real feel of a festival like Calgary Stampede, I thought.

We were grateful that the rain held off. We retraced our steps back to the main bridge and found the exit. We enjoyed walking along the roadway back to the ship. Total walking time of our outing today was 2.5 hours.

When we arrived at the ship the staff were rearranging the stairway up to the 5th floor of the ship ….

A wee rest and then lunch at the buffet. Now sitting in the Living Room, 10th floor, looking out at the sun sparkling on the water in front of us. Big gray and white clouds taking turns covering the sunshine that surely is above, creating the heat of this day. It has been a spectacular place to park and visit this great city. No regrets, only gratitude for the weather, the ancient sites, the waterways and celebration of the Tall Ships here in Europe. The torrential rain has started now, difficult to make out shapes on the front window through the many large raindrops. It is a beautiful day.

I listened to a few chapters of “Making Friends With Your Mind” recording with Pema Chodron as the weather passed this afternoon. Went for some laps of walking around the deck, it was warm and sunny. Decided to have a swim in the lovely salt water pool. About ten minutes into the pool, the black clouds came back and the rain started again. It is time now to get ready for dinner. Music can be heard from the pier, our balcony door open, concert beginning the evening celebrations.

As we prepare to depart France tonight, I think about the trip, my intentions to walk and be present to the land and stories we are walking on … ending the trip in Greenwich England, where time takes on a new meaning. More to follow …..

Each night before drifting off to sleep we have been exchanging gratitude from the day, the trip, or what has happened to us. It builds a closeness, a sense of positivity and friendliness with ourselves, each otherand the world around us.

I intend to keep that practice going as I return home, ever so grateful to have a wonderful supportive home to return to. Grateful for my loving family, for having enough, for being enough. Thankful for safety and positivity.

Thank you for following and supporting me in my travels,

Pamela

Rouen France 7 June 2019

Rouen is the capital city of Normandy, with 2,000 years of history …. an ancient place. Arrival in our port parking lot at 7 am. Watched as we backed up in our parking spot on the Seine River, next to the Tall Ships. The morning started clear with promise of rain, which came in buckets. We did some reading about the port and had a chat with the ambassador of the town who was on board providing information and maps to cruisers who wanted to do some sightseeing without an organized excursion.

Originally we had discussed going to Paris for the day, by train and back same day. It was not easy or simple to take the shuttle to the town then catch a taxi to the rail station in order to get an early train into Paris …. where to stop? And then return same day ….. some folks from the cruise decided to go to Paris and spend overnight while the ship was docked in Rouen. Some stayed two nights, went to Paris from Honfleur and would meet up with us again tomorrow before we depart for England.

Mary and I finished our jigsaw puzzle (monochromatic Venice), had some lunch and decided to take the shuttle in to Rouen to check out the highlights, Notre Dame Cathedral, Joan of Arc execution spot and the big clock (gros horloge). Armed with our map, water bottles, rain coats and optimism we caught the shuttle in to centre of the old town.

There had to be 6 to 12 river cruise boats lining the Seine. So many tourists out walking, the Armada 2019 starts tonight with 50 Tall Ships and countless white tents set up for vendors and information booths along the river. We are parked in a little different part of town than typically would be, due to the Tall Ship event. There promises to be fireworks just outside on the pier each night. This Armada in Rouen takes place every five years, one of the largest concentrations of sailing ships in the world.

The shuttle ride was slow on the way to town, with stops from traffic and pedestrians crossing. Likely about 3 km took almost 25 minutes. We were let out in a congested bus parking zone two blocks from the main Cathedral. That was our first planned stop. Massive, ornate, under construction …. it was absolutely spectacular, magnificent…. we are searching for words to describe it. Nothing comes close. Consecrated in 1063, epitome of development of gothic art since the 12th century on the foundation of a 4th century basilica. 11th century Romanesque edifice. 19th century cast-iron spire rises to a height of 151 meters, the tallest in France. Trying to take in the outside with photos. We open a small door, entrance is free. In we stepped and the fabulous huge pipe organ was playing.

I took about 3 pictures and had an allergic reaction, could not breathe, coughing and gasping …. I had to leave the church and get air outside. The rest of the photos were taken by Mary, and then we stayed outside. I was not able to recover enough to enter any other buildings in this city, however we walked for a few hours on the cobblestones, taking pics of half-timber houses, beautiful rugged doors, picturesque facades, a fabulous hat shop and even a central market-place displaying colourful blooms and some flea market items.

Great Clock: Gothic belfry, Renaissance archway and clock face and an 18th century fountain, inside is the 14th century mechanism, for the first bells of the city …. and views available to get an amazing panorama. We walk under and take photos from each angle. Wow.

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake at the old Market Place on 30 May 1431, marked today by a large cross. The church created on the site has two purposes, church to honor Saint Joan of Arc, and a civil memorial to commemorate the heroine. We went in and admired the stain glass.

We saw the Parlement de Normandie, Palau’s de Justice (Court House) from the outside. We missed the Musee des Beaux-Arts.

Opting to bring the shuttle back to the ship, with wind picking up and rain starting up again. A quick 10 minute drive back, passing countless hundreds, thousands of tourists packing the walkway along the river, umbrellas, heavy rain, leaves and twigs scattered along the way …. we were so lucky today to have virtually caught all the sunshine between the rain showers. We saw the beauty of the city, tasted the historical significance and enjoyed wandering down beautiful cobbled walkways.

The evening was spent on board the ship, we ate in the buffet area and talked. Tea, hot water, sparkling water, all adding comfort. Back to the room after dining venues had closed (the ship is staying in port overnight to 8 June in the evening …. then we set sail for England, a sea day in between).

I shared, reading aloud from a fabulous life-changing book I have been reading, “The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life” by Lynne Twist. This book has been downloaded to my Kindle reading app on my ipad.

Good night wherever you are. Wishing you were here. Missing my family. I will be home in a few days.

Second day in Rouen, plans to walk the Tall Ships.

Love Pamela

Honfleur France, 6 June 2019

Honfleur France, Thursday 6 June 2019

We arrived in the wee hours of the morning so the night was peaceful for sleeping, no rocking. Awoke in a port of Honfleur, up against the pier, tide out. Leisurely wake-up and now have had breakfast. It is a bit of a slow start, late morning activities, now getting ready to head out. A map of the various walking tours and description of what to expect in this port town.

From the cruise terminal to the town center is 1.6 kilometers. Azamara provide a shuttle, and say it departs every 1/2 hour. There is a number of different walking trails, gardens, tour around the old town. Looks like there is a beach and Mont-Joli to explore later in the day. There is also a petit train for sightseeing tour.

Samuel de Champlain departed in 1608 from Honfleur to found the city of Quebec in the new world 🙂

Medieval town, narrow half-timbered houses, cobbled walkways, sheltered cove, fishermen, traditional buildings, bell tower, monuments,picturesque streets, artists. Art galleries, largest wooden church in France, castle that fortifies the town. River cruises come through here also, docked as many as 3 nights in row …. to see all the points of interest (D-Day beaches, American cemetery, Bayeux Tapestry, Giverny to see where Monet was inspired). Galleries and museums to view artists’ work Monet, Boudin, Corot, Dubourg, Jongkind, and others who gathered to paint in this area in the past. Nestled between Seine estuary and plateau of Pays d’Auge. Temperate climate, high of 18 degrees today expected.

Known for pan-fried frogs legs, foie gras with caramelized apple, cooked oysters with a leek fondue and Champagne sauce, accompanied by varieties of cheeses as local food choices. “Tip included”… “Service compris” in the price of the meal or snack. 17th century salt warehouses now used for exhibitions, previously used to salt cod brought from Newfoundland!

Lots of gardens to enjoy, souvenir shops and galleries. As in many parts of Europe shops close from noon to 2 pm. We can expect to take a walk then up the mont, and on to the beach to dip our toes in the sea before returning to the ship.

Tonight is the White Night party on board Azamara Journey, music, food, dancing on the deck in the beautiful surroundings.

I hope all is well wherever you are. Thanks for following along, we are enjoying bringing you with us wherever we go.

Pamela

Cherbourg France 5 June 2019

Bonjour my friends and family followers,

We arrived in Cherbourg France this morning at 8 am local time. I was still sound asleep. Still feeling a bit jet lagged and tired at times ….

I have no excursions throughout this cruise. Today a lot of guests are attending to the D-Day landing sites of Normandy or Juno beach excursions, so the ship is fairly quiet.

This port seems like a city, with an old town area near the waterfront. Shuttles provided by Azamara. I am in need of a suitcase as mine was smashed on the flight to Barcelona. I had hoped to get another Italian made bag, Carpisa, however have not found any of that quality as yet.

The shuttle, I was advised, takes and picks up at a mall with a Carrefour super Mercado. I am able to locate a great suitcase, same color as mine and larger so that all my items will fit in. I have not purchased anything else yet and don’t intend to either. The shuttle brought me back to the ship with the new suitcase and now I can relax that item is off my to-do list. Suitcase was on sale, although I did not know that, and no tax in France. (In Spain and perhaps Portugal the tax is 21% on all purchases made in those countries.) I am relieved and pleased that my shopping is complete.

After a little rest we will head out to walk the old town. We can walk safely from the ship, maybe a ten minute walk and it looks like there is a pedestrian bridge to try also :).

Le Pont Tournant crosses over the Bassin du Commerce. There is a large nautical museum including submarines and aquarium, located next to the cruise terminal. Railway station 2 kilometers from the cruise terminal, almost three hours train ride to Paris.

There is Tourism Information booth at the terminal, and Seabourn has a ship in port also. We are docked at the Quay de France. A person can rent electric bike here for 20 Euro per day. Not my choice, walking is my plan. Many pedestrian only narrow streets tucked in behind the waterfront. There is also a small tourist train for 5 Euro departing every 15 minutes. For those who need a rest from walking and still want to see the port, this is a welcome activity.

Bayeux is apparently a charming well preserved old town, Renaissance and medieval buildings, cobbled streets and beautiful surroundings. Famed Bayeux Tapestry can be found there.

This port is an important military and fishing area, although there is also a very large marina. Apparently this is an artificial harbor, the largest in the world, they say. The coastline of Normandy boasts plenty of sandy beaches, like we saw yesterday, and in this area, dramatic cliffs.

Looking forward to a stroll in the old city later this afternoon. Mary and I are working on a monochrome jigsaw puzzle of Venice up in the Living Room (10th floor). On Oceania this is called Horizons, and there is wifi, games, dancing, and great scenic views can be seen from the windows on this deck.

Tomorrow is Honfleur France for the day, with plenty of excursions related to Claude Monet and his artistic life and home. This area referred to as “quintessential French seaside town.” Sounds relaxing and beautiful. White Night celebration on board that night.

Stay tuned for more of this picturesque and beautiful cruise.

Love Pamela

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