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Live from the Viking Hermod, Portraits of Southern France
We flew in today on Viking Air. Flights were good: Detroit to Paris non-stop and then a short layover before Paris to Marseilles. A Viking rep greeted us in baggage claim and once our group of 17 was all together, we boarded our bus for Avignon, a 1 hr and 15 min. drive. When we arrived at the Hermod, our cabins were ready, so we dropped our carryon and coats and went to the Aquavit Terrace for lunch. It was a perfect day for dining al fesco; partly sunny and high 60's. The light lunch was good, and we returned to the cabin to do some unpacking. We have a verandah cabin, and it is small, but nicely appointed, with good drawer and closet space. The bathroom is much smaller than it was on the Idun, and I'm not sure if that's b/c of the verandah. I'll have to check. Still, the bathroom is also nicely appointed, with good lighting, shelf space, L'Occitane toiletries and nice towels, as well as those heated floors. So, I do a bit of unpacking and it's time for our introductory walking tour of Avignon.
To be continued...
Thanks so much for posting. DH and I are doing this cruise (reverse) in November on the Hermod and looking forward to hearing reviews of the ship and sites.
Frank & Pat
New York, NY
Future Cruise: 11/15 Viking Mani - Rhine Getaway / Burges to Basel
11/14 Viking Hermod / Viking Buri - Portraits of Southern France
11/13 Viking Prestige - Vineyards & Vistas / Trier to Bamberg
11/12 Viking Odin - Romantic Danube / Budapest to Nuremberg
11/11 Viking Schumann - Elegant Elbe / Prague to Berlin
10/10 Viking Sun - Rhine Getaway / Amsterdam to Basel (Lucerne)
11/09 Viking Pride - Romantic Danube / Nuremberg to Vienna
8/09 RCCL Explorer of the Seas / Bermuda
8/07 RCCL Western Caribbean
8/06 RCCL Spendour of the Seas /Greek Isles
6/05 RCCL Navigator of the Seas /Western Caribbean
6/04 RCCL Adventure of the Seas /Eastern Caribbean
6/03 CCL - Zenith /Bermuda
6/02 RCCL Grandeur of the Seas / Mediterrean
Thx everyone! We continue;
At 3pm, we have a walking tour of Avignon city center, which is a perfect way to fight the creeping jet lag. Most of the passengers who had already embarkedctook advantage of this tour. Avignon city center is a walled city, which already makes it very appealing. It is a short walk from the ship,, and walk thru a passageway in the wall. The street in many places is comprised of small rocks embedded into the pavement, which is even more challenging to walk on than cobblestones. But this pavement is not throught the entire area, so I glad when it comes to an end. We come to the city square, which is quite charming. There are many old, but restored buildings, resraurants and vendors and a lovely double-decker carousel. All s
Along our tour the guide points out streets that are good for shopping, dining, souvenirs, etc. At the end of the tour, we elect to stay in town a bit to find a ATM ( we need euros) and to shop a bit on our way back to the ship at stores she had suggested. We got our euros, got a couple of nice souvenirs at a lovely lavender shop and we were done.
We were due to have a safety drill at 6:15, but that got pushed back a half hour due to a large group of passengers being delayed. That meant that everything else , including dinner got delayed.
Dinner was very good. Most at our table had the rack of lamb and all said it was delicious. We all had the goat cheese souflle and loved it. Desserts were excellent as well, but I thought mine was best. it was a Pot au Chocolate and it was one of the best chocolate desserts I've ever had, and believe me, I've had plenty. . The only complaint anyone had at dinner was that there was nearly an hour lag b/t the first course and the main course. I hope that was just a one -time thing, and that it had something to do with the change in schedule due to the late-arriving passengers. Never experienced anything close to that on our last Viking cruise.
Oh, and for you wine drinkers; the dinner wines were a merlot and a chardonnay. Those at our table said they were excellent.
End of day one.
Today we are in Arles and our guided tour is to the Roman arena. It is a magnificent structure still being used for bullfights. From the arena we take a short walk to see the ruins of the theater. Also very impressive. Also in Arles is the yellow café pictured in Van Gogh's painting 'Starry Night'. Well, the original is long gone, but another is on the site, so good for a photo op. . The walking around Arles is somewhat strenuous, as it is hilly. We return to the ship for lunch, and we have the optional excursion to St Remy and Les Baux. At St Remy is the hospital in which Van Gogh spent a year and where he painted many of his most famous works. There were many of Van Gogh's works represented on the grounds and we were also shown the room where he stayed during his year there. He was quite the tortured soul. We then went to Les Baux, the fortress on the hill. This was quite interesting; a historical fortress and village accommodating shops and restaurants within its confines.
This evening was the Captains Welcome Aboard cocktail party and the Welcome Aboard dinner. Very few people dressed up. We didn't overdress, but my husband wore a button-down shirt with a sport coat and dress slacks. I wore a lurex turtleneck with dress slacks and some nice. earrings. Dinner service flowed much better than the first night and all courses were delicious. Chateaubriand was ordered by most at our table with chocolate souffle being the dessert of choice.
After dinner there were music and drinks on the top deck. A very nice finish to a lovely day.
Do you feel the optional excursion was worth going on? How has your wifi connection been on the ship so far? Thanks for you insights....
We were on the fence about the St Remy/Les Baux excursion, and I almost decided to just stay in Tarascon and wander around there. However, we had lunch with a couple who had done the excursion on a previous cruise and were very enthusiastic about it, so we decided to go. I was very glad we did. Both stops were very interesting and our guide made them even more so. The guides have been exceptional so far.
We are back in Avignon today and we have a more thorough tour of the city. This tour will include the papal palace and the covered market (Les Halles). The papal palace is huge and dates from the 12th century. It is not furnished, but that really, at least to me, does not diminish its impressiveness. Due to the size of the palace and a large number of steps, this tour is not for a mobility challenged person.
From the palace, we walk to Les Halles, the covered market, which is a feast for the senses. There is all manner of stalls here selling meats, various seafood, poultry, cheeses, pastries, spices, wines and produce. It is just delightful, and no one seems to mind us taking photos, which is good because there are some very strange things for sale here. There are...oh, you really have to see it for yourselves!
We leave Les Halles and return to the ship for lunch. Shortly after lunch is the call for the excursion to Chateauneuf du pape. My husband decided he wanted to go on this excursion at the last minute and they had room, so off he went. A bit later, I joined a group of ladies on the Aquavit Terrace for French tea. There were a wonderful selection of pastries(the macarons were to die for!) and teas and we had a lovely day for tea on the terrace. We passed thru some locks during our tea, which slowed our progress down a bit. We were to pick up the excursionists from Chateauneuf du pape at a set time, but it was later when we arrived. Therefore, we would not be able to stop at Viviers this evening for an evening walk. Disappointing, but these things happen. We continue thru locks throughout the evening.
Tonight is the cocktail party for the Viking past passengers. It is very nice. It is on the Aquavit Terrace, and we receive the cocktail or soft drink of our choice. Then the captain addresses the group, and everyone toasts with a shot of Aquavit liqueor. Servers then bring around some nice appetizers; spring rolls, veggie croquette, chicken skewer. All quite tasty. Lastly the servers bring around a shot of plum wine as a finish. It was very nicely done.
Dinner tonight was very gokd again. A very good salad with fresh figs for my appetizer, and trout for my main dish. Most of the table had the coq au vin and all said it was very good. The dessert was unusual but excellent. A small slice of chocolate viennette with a red wine ice cream. Now, that red wine ice cream may sound strange, but it was delicious! A great ending to my day!
Last edited by rjscott; April 1st, 2014 at 05:34 PM.
Glad to hear about your day's activities, especially the optional tour. We were also wondering about the weather since we are on the tour next week. Is it relatively warm? Hopefully, a coat (just layers) won't be necessary.
Thanks so much for giving us a day by day posting.
Thanks so much for sharing with us. We're listening carefully and we're so glad that you're talking about the optional tours. It will make it much easier to make day to day decisions this way. It's a totally new part of the country for us so we can't learn enough. Glad you are enjoying the Hermod so far. Don't forget to share weather (yes, it can change but it helps when trying to imagine different climates). Oh, how is Internet connection along the way? Have a wonderful time and keep writing!
Dittto to the "thanks for posting!" We're enjoying your posts as well - we are going in mid-April, but the other way round. We too are interested in the weather - we were thinking it would be jacket weather in mid-April, but from all your fun times you seem to be having on the Aquavit terrace, sounds like it's fairly warm?
2009 - A&K Alaska
2010 - Viking Treasures of the Rhine
2012 - Princess Eastern Carribean
June 2012 - Uniworld Waterways of Russia
January 2013 - Princess Southern Caribbean
October 2013 - Imperial China and the Yangtze
April 2014 - Viking Chateaux & Southern France
April 2015 - Viking Star, Empire maiden voyage
About the weather; by midday, weather has been in the mid 60's and mostly sunny. But mornings can be chilly for the walking tours, so a jacket or coat would be necessary. I brought a raincoat with hood and my husband brought a jacket with attached hood as well.
Internet connectivity has been great after the first day. There were some issues the day of embarkation, but by bedtime, it was fixed.
I believe the service level, while very good before, has ramped up since our last cruise. Every staff member goes out of their way to say hello. They are friendly and fun, but still professional. In the dining room, the servers help each other in order to make sure the passengers are served promptly. It is quite impressive.
Seems we all have questions about the optional tours. Did your husband enjoy Chateauneuf du pape? Keep the stories coming, it is so great to hear all the detail.
My husband did enjoy the visit to Chateauneuf du pape. However, he said it was less of a tour than a lesson in wine tasting. Still, he found that interesting, and enjoyed the wines he tasted. Plus, he enjoyed the once in a lifetime experience. . The cost of the tour is 49 euros and it is only about a 20-25 min bus ride from the ship, so not a long ride to get there.
Someone asked on another thread if the Sun deck was open during daytime sailing. So far, when we are sailing, the upper deck has been closed due to the many bridges we need to pass under,, with little clearance. The Aquavit Terrace is open during this time, however, and they do open the upper deck while in port.