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jpalbny

SS Catherine, Lyon to Avignon 3/22/15 - Live

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I'm awake early this morning, in our hotel room in Paris. Our train to Lyon leaves in 4 hours, and when we arrive this afternoon, we'll be boarding SS Catherine for this year's first voyage!

 

Friday 3/20

 

On Friday afternoon it was snowy in Albany so our flight to Atlanta was delayed slightly. We had no trouble making our connection, though. As soon as we landed, we walked to our next gate, where they were starting to board the plane. So the timing was good.

 

Relaxing flight over to CDG though the food and wine on the Air France plane wasn't as good as it's been on past flights with them. Got a few hours of sleep and arrived at CDG only 5-10 minutes after our scheduled arrival time of 11:10.

 

Saturday 3/21

 

Luggage wasn't a terrible wait and we were heading for the RER station before noon. Amazingly enough, when we got there, we saw signs announcing that all public transportation in the area was free this weekend! A train was waiting and we hopped on; by 12:05 we were heading in towards the city, which I thought was great since we had landed less than an hour ago. We changed over to the Metro without trouble and made it to our hotel at 1:00, and our room was ready for us. After a shower, it was time to head out and see a few things we missed last time.

 

I asked the hotel staff about the free public transportation, and they said it was to reduce air pollution. So, we took the free Metro out to Pere Lachaise Cemetery which was a neat place. It reminded us of the Recoletta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. We saw several famous graves including Chopin, Jim Morrison, and Oscar Wilde. It was a perfect day to visit a cemetery - grey skies, bare tree branches swaying in the wind, and the large black birds lurking about all added to the ambience. The setting was appropriate! After wandering through looking at the impressive monuments, we headed out to the Metro for our next stop.

 

We went to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which was nicely done. It consists of a lake with a mountainous island in the center, set in the middle of the park which rises up on all sides around it. There's a Romanesque temple on the top of the island but it's blocked off for repairs at the moment. There are some manmade waterfalls but they're not all running at the moment. It looks fairly natural even though most of it was built and isn't a natural formation. There is a bunch of construction going on, though, so that detracts from the setting a little. I'd like to see what it looks like when they're done working.

 

Afterwards it was getting chilly, so we headed back to our neighborhood on the Metro. We found a bistro and sat outdoors under the heat lamps, and I enjoyed a nice steak with fries, and Chris had a duck breast that was delicious as well. It was accompanied by a cheap red Burgundy which was fine. It ended up being a pretty cheap dinner, and with the exchange rate under $1.10 per Euro, even better!

 

Back to the hotel where they had dark chocolates for us on our pillows. We used some of our bar credit to have a glass of wine before bed, and then it was time to sleep!

 

***

 

More to follow - I haven't uploaded any pictures yet but will work some in as we go. I doubt I'll keep up with the live reporting every day but we'll see how it goes. Time for breakfast soon, then maybe a little more sightseeing before we jump on the Metro to Gare de Lyon for our train. Can't wait to see how SS Catherine compares to her sister ship, SS Antoinette!

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Thanks for posting live! I am looking forward to reading about your trip as we will be on this itinerary in reverse in a few months.

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JP,

What wonderful memories arise reading about the start of your trip. We took this trip the first year it was offered in 2006 on the River Royale. It was fantastic. Looking forward to reading more. If you like garlicky food--the frogs legs at the small cafe near the berth in Viviers are amazing. Pat

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More to follow - I haven't uploaded any pictures yet but will work some in as we go. I doubt I'll keep up with the live reporting every day but we'll see how it goes. Time for breakfast soon, then maybe a little more sightseeing before we jump on the Metro to Gare de Lyon for our train. Can't wait to see how SS Catherine compares to her sister ship, SS Antoinette!

 

Oh no, no cop out. You started this blog, you have to keep it up every single day! :p

 

Just kidding, but I am looking forward to your semi-regular updates. Don't forget to check the premium booze menu. ;)

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Thanks guys for posting your travel blog...anxious to hear your thoughts and see photos..keep up the good work!!

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Interesting. We just read an article in the LA Times about pollution in Paris. Hoping for clear skies for you from now on.

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Thanks all for the comments. As expected, we're having way too much fun to post much but it's been a great time so far.

 

The TGV from Paris to Lyon was easy and the Perrache Station in Lyon was within walking distance of the ship. We did some of Lyon on our own that afternoon before sailing to Macon.

 

Yesterday's trip to Beaune was fun; the weather was gorgeous - sunny and in the 60s. Some difference from home! We're back in Lyon this morning for more touring.

 

For those of you who have been wondering, here is the premium liquor list:

 

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I haven't come across a premium wine list. The included wines are all local and tasty.

 

More to follow... Merci de votre patienter...

Edited by jpalbny

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Thanks for posting the premium list, JP! I appreciate it.

 

Looking forward to hearing your review of the cruise!

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Yes, thanks for posting the premium list. They had given me the second page but not the first. I am glad to see there is only one champagne that is not included. Hopefully that means there are several decent champagnes to choose from for free:)

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Thanks for posting about Parc des Butte-Chaumont--I'll be in Paris this October and had hoped to visit this place, which was the setting for a film I saw several years ago--let's hope the construction is done by then.

 

Have a good rest of your trip.

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I knew you were having too much fun! :D

 

Throw us a line every once in a while. And thanks for the liquor list. No issues for me, I don't even drink that high end stuff when I'm home.

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Here are a few photos from Pere-Lachaise Cemetery. We had a great day to visit; the dark cloudy day really set the mood for a visit:

 

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These photos set the mood for our visit... We saw a few famous graves that I'll post later. We're late to the Past Guests' Party and I have to get ready for that...

 

The internet speed here so far has been crummy; hope it gets better further to the south!

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I am disappointed that 2 of my favorite vodka's are on the list. I read elsewhere that Grey Goose is extra as well. I certainly hope there are some premium brands included. I do not drink hard liquor often but when I want a martini, I want a good one:).

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I am disappointed that 2 of my favorite vodka's are on the list. I read elsewhere that Grey Goose is extra as well. I certainly hope there are some premium brands included. I do not drink hard liquor often but when I want a martini, I want a good one:).

 

I think you may have read my comment when I said that I was surprised that Ketel One was on the list (I am also a vodka drinker and don't consider this premium, although it is good) and that I hoped they had Grey Goose since it was not on the list. It seemed to cause some confusion and others thought I said Grey Goose costs extra. If they have it and it isn't on the list, I don't think it costs extra. Sorry if I caused any confusion! :o

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I think you may have read my comment when I said that I was surprised that Ketel One was on the list (I am also a vodka drinker and don't consider this premium, although it is good) and that I hoped they had Grey Goose since it was not on the list. It seemed to cause some confusion and others thought I said Grey Goose costs extra. If they have it and it isn't on the list, I don't think it costs extra. Sorry if I caused any confusion! :o

 

I am a fan of Chopin and Pravda personally but Goose, Belvedere or Ketel One will work. Looking to learn if Goose is actually included.

 

I did read that some nice single malts were included. :)

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I am a fan of Chopin and Pravda personally but Goose, Belvedere or Ketel One will work. Looking to learn if Goose is actually included.

 

I did read that some nice single malts were included. :)

 

Chopin is my favorite also! I wasn't sure if they would even have it since it is less known. If they have it and it is included for free, I will be a happy woman! I am looking forward to your report once you go in July since it seems we have similar tastes in vodkas :)

 

jpalbny, sorry to hijack your thread with conversations about alcohol! :p I am looking forward to hearing more about your experience at the various ports and seeing more photos. Thanks so much for sharing!

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jpbalny

 

Thanks for your posts! Know you are having lots of fun but please post again when you can. Sorry the internet is slow. That is what i encountered on the Danube. I'm hoping the Rhine will be better for us in May. We are wine drinkers. Glad to hear the local wines are good. If you do find a premium wine list please post that if you have a chance.

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I'm boggled that you flew to Atlanta to get to Paris! Have a great cruise. I'm in Provence right now and off to Avignon today...hope you are not experiencing the rain we are.

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Hi all and thanks for hanging in there... This cruise is flying by and we're having a great time. Just docked in Viviers, a tiny little place south of Tain l'Hermitage, and we went out for a late-night stroll. It was wild - cold, windy, cloudy, with the moonlight shining through some bare trees. The town was deserted and it felt like we were wandering through the set of a scary movie... We walked up to the highest point of town and ducked into the cathedral, which was open for a tour group. So we snuck in with them, and got a free peek. More on that later!

 

The cruise so far has been even better than we remembered from last year. The food is really great - we expected good food, but we're surprised by just how good it has been. Lots of fun people, lively dinners, good wine... Can't believe it's already half over. Tomorrow it's my birthday so more celebrating in store.

 

***

 

I'll go back to where I left off with a few more shots of Père-Lachaise Cemetery. Neat place - the setting was great, and with the grey clouds, sparse crowds, and the wind whipping through the bare trees, the mood was perfect to explore some famous graves. Here's Chopin, near a less well-known (to us) artist:

 

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There was a crowd around Jim Morrison's grave. It's fenced off so you can't get close, and the angle is bad for pictures:

 

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Oscar Wilde's grave was surrounded in plexiglass. Part of the stone is covered in lipstick. Apparently it means something to leave lip prints on the gravestone. We didn't join in on the custom...

 

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Here are a few more monuments:

 

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After exploring the cemetery, we headed back to the Metro to the Parc des Buttes-Chamount while we were still awake and able to keep walking. We were a little hungry but figured we'd try to hold off a little longer, and have an early dinner before calling it a day.

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Saturday, 3/22 - wrapping up in Paris:

 

We made it to the Parc des Buttes-Chamount which is a large bowl-shaped park in the middle of an urban setting. The center of the park is dominated by a large rock "mountain" sitting in the middle of a manmade lake. There's nice green parkland, lots of trees, a restaurant... Lovely setting. It's the off-season so there is construction / repairs going on. But still, some nice views:

 

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Here is the "mountain" in the center, surrounded by the lake. There's a Roman-inspired temple atop the mountain, but the pathway is closed off for repair work.

 

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Here are a few of the bridges spanning the lake, connecting the periphery of the park to the mountain:

 

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After walking around the park, climbing those crazy hills, we were running out of steam. So we headed back to our neighborhood, figuring we'd grab some dinner. This place looked nice, and it was between our Metro stop and the hotel:

 

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We sat outside under the heat lamps (a novelty in March) but had a nice dinner - steak frites and a duck breast that were both delicious. That and an inexpensive bottle of red Burgundy, and we were pretty much set for the evening. We had a nightcap at our hotel - just to use up some of our bar credit - and called it an early night. Tomorrow, we're off on the TGV to Lyon. I'll close out tonight with a picture of our hotel room - nice place; Victoria Palace Hotel near the Montparnasse district.

 

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And it's after midnight here, so time for some sleep!

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We made it back home last night about 10:00, after being awake for about 24 hours. Some snow squalls and a "wintry mix" to greet us on our way back to work later today. Compared to yesterday, that was a bit of a rude awakening, but on the plus side there is less snow on the ground than when we left.

 

We got our photos organized on the plane so I should be able to start the day by day descriptions soon. For now, I've scanned in the daily programs as well as an overview sheet that they gave us on the first day which was very helpful. The overview lists all optional tours and prices. Here's a link to a shared folder with the scans in pdf.

 

Daily Programs

 

I also snagged a price list for their laundry services. We were Heritage Club members so we got one bag of laundry free (per week). That was a great perk - the bags are decent sized so we had no trouble fitting 2 pairs of jeans, a few shirts, and some socks/underwear into the bag, with room to spare. And the best part of this perk is that it's PER PERSON, not per cabin. So we EACH got a bag of laundry included. We used one 21" rollaboard each, and we could have packed less.

 

More to follow - this was a great cruise and we really enjoyed it. I think that the food was even better than I expected. We booked Uniworld for a China trip next March - that will definitely be a different experience from the Europe trips, but we really want to visit China and we thought this would be a good chance to do so. For now, I have to go grocery shopping so we don't starve this week, then it's off to work the evening shift tonight...

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Yes, thanks for posting that daily program. I just read through the first two days, but I will be reading the entire program. It is very informative since we have never been on a river cruise.

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Thanks for the comments so far... A few answers and non-answers:

 

Barrheadlass - we flew through ATL because the timing happened to work out better vis-à-vis leaving Friday night and returning on Sunday. But yeah, it was a long flight! It's actually faster to go ALB-DTW-CGD but for some reason the timing didn't work out on our dates.

 

To everyone who is interested in the premium alcohol list, you're OK in my book. Feel free to keep discussing... I posted the list in the Roll Call thread too.

 

whatnot, I never saw a premium wine list - though I never did think to ask. And the internet remained spotty throughout. It was a little frustrating at times.

 

caviargal, we didn't look at any spa services so I can't tell you how much they cost. Sorry!

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Sunday 3/22 - Lyon and Embarkation Day!

 

We were up well before 7 this morning, ready to head from Paris to Lyon. We had our TGV tickets in hand, and were excited to have the chance to finally ride the train! Thought about taking a stroll around the neighborhood, but decided on a leisurely breakfast instead. We were the only ones there for a while; it was a nice spread and fun to have it to ourselves!

 

We checked out about 10:00 and headed to the Metro; from there to the RER and we made it to Gare de Lyon earlier than we needed to. Public transport in Paris was still free today so we're saving money left and right! The Gare de Lyon was a nice blend of old and new; the main structure has a soaring steel and glass roof, which reminds me of the old conservatories that were popular in Europe at the end of the 19th century - but the inside was very modern and efficient. We hopped on our train, settled in, and pulled out on time.

 

The ride down was uneventful, though it is a bit unnerving when two trains pass at full speed. The other train seems very close! And at full speed, they pass by in a fraction of a second. It's a fun way to travel, and soon we arrived in Lyon. After a few minutes' stop at Lyon Part-Dieu station we continued on to Perrache, which is closer to the boat dock. We figured we'd just walk to the boat rather than taking the tram, as it doesn't look too far.

 

We left the station, walked out, and headed for the bridge spanning the Rhone. A beautiful sight awaited us! The SS Catherine was right at the pier where we expected her to be!

 

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Here's the walking route for those of you who want to try this at home...

 

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And a wider-angle view; we're on the opposite bank from the boat in this picture:

 

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A few locals turned out to greet us:

 

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It was an easy walk to the ship; once crossing the bridge, all you do is turn left and head down the stairs to the quai. A nice easy walking path, past the Avalon ship docked behind us, to the Catherine where the staff were waiting for us. They took our bags, we checked in, and about 30 seconds later we were heading upstairs to lunch. Couldn't have been much easier!

 

The lunch buffet was tasty - plenty of wine to go around, and several appetizing choices including a tasty Beef Borgogne. They had initially told us that the rooms wouldn't be ready until after 3PM, but as we were eating lunch, the Hotel Manager came by to tell us that the rooms were ready early. That makes sense; since this was the first cruise of the year, the rooms should have been ready early. We unpacked and enjoyed the view from our cabin:

 

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With that, it was time to see what we could do on our own in Lyon for a few hours. We just have to make it back in time to the ship by 5:30 for the safety drill. I downloaded a mobile app for my phone that has a map of Lyon's public transport system, used the ship's Wi-Fi to sign in and calculate a route to the Roman Ruins, and then we set out to explore!

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Sunday 3/22, Lyon - continued:

 

After a nice lunch and a quick unpacking we were ready to go. The room was nice and there was enough closet space but the bed is close to the closets. With the closet doors open it was hard to move about. I'll post a picture later that might illustrate this.

 

We walked up from the pier to the Quai Claude Bernard tram stop which took about 2 minutes. The ticket machine was easy to use and we used up some change buying two tickets for €1.80 each. Tickets in hand, we jumped on the tram, transferred to a Metro, and then boarded the funicular to get to the top of Fourvière Hill for the cathedral and the views. As we exited the funicular, the cathedral was hard to miss:

 

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And the scenic viewpoint of the with the Saone River stretched out below us was very pretty. From this hill, we're looking out over the Saone, then the Lyon Peninsula, then the Rhone (though it's hard to see the Rhone from this point of view). The two tall buildings are on the other side of the peninsula, beyond the Rhone. The one on the right is "le crayon" (the pencil), a former bank building that is now a hotel. The one on the left is still under construction but will replace le crayon as the tallest building in Lyon.

 

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We headed back down the hill a little bit to the Gallo-Roman museum. Gallo refers to Gaul, not wine... As we arrived there were nice views of the Roman theater. We figured we'd tour that after the museum, as the museum was higher up than the theater. No sense of walking downhill to the theater, then uphill to the museum if we didn't have to! I had planned this route to avoid climbing.

 

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The museum was much more extensive than we'd thought, especially since the admission was a relative bargain at €4 per person. They had some pretty extensive collections of carvings, mosaics, and other items of historical interest. I wasn't sure why there was a bronze statue of a horse's hind end, though:

 

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A few nicely carved sarcophagi:

 

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Next we explored their fantastic collection of mosaics. We really like looking at them!

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The museum is built into a hillside and you start at the top. The exhibits are visited by walking slowly down a series of spiraling ramps. The mosaic work is cleverly displayed so that you can see first some of the larger ones through viewing holes, or from platforms on the floor above (where you can get good pictures). Then when you descend to the floor where the mosaic is located, you can get next to it to look more closely at the details.

 

One of my favorites was this large specimen depicting a chariot race:

 

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I'd like to have a house where something like that would fit in! The details were neat too; here's two chariots going neck and neck for the finish line - manes flying, hooves in perfect sync at full gallop:

 

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Unfortunately, chariot racing wasn't always this pretty! This looks like a DNF.

 

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Here's a mosaic of our favorite Roman God, Dionysius, riding a black panther:

 

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And a few more interesting specimens - great details!

 

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Lastly, a "drunken Hercules" stands supported by others. That's what happens when you spend too much time with Dionysius, I guess. Silenus, on the far left, looks amused. The facial expressions are very amusing.

 

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One other cool thing about this museum is that the hillside location allows for large viewing windows that overlook the theater ruins. This was a well-planned museum with an excellent layout, and we though it was well worth the stop. But, it's time to head out to the theatre ruins so that we can make it back to the boat in time for the safety drill.

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3/22 Lyon, continued:

 

We headed out from the museum and down the road to the Roman Theatre ruins. You can climb all over and spend as much time as you want, but compared to others we've seen recently, this one was average. The seating has been restored and it's used for performances now. And it's a nice place to hang out and catch a few rays of sunshine, as many are doing here!

 

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This picture shows the top floor of the museum (flat concrete structure atop the hill) and gives you an idea of its layout. It spirals down under the hill. The large windows in the side of the hill are on the museum's lower floors.

 

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Next to the theatre, there is a smaller odeon. After a while these all start to look similar, but this one had a nice marble stage. Must have been restored too!

 

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So with that, we headed down the remains of an old Roman road to catch the funicular back to the metro to the tram to the boat. Phew! No worries, it sounds more complicated than it actually was, and I had the route saved on my phone just in case we got lost.

 

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Here's the funicular coming down the hill to pick us up:

 

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Once we got back to the boat, we had time to head over to the lounge and prepare for the safety drill.

 

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Sailaway would be coming up soon and we were excited to see the views from our nice cabin, with the full-length sliding window...

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3/22, Lyon - wrapping up:

 

We enjoyed the sailaway from our room. We put the window down, sat in our "balcony" type sitting-area, and enjoyed the sunset view as we pulled out of Lyon at 6:00. We cruised down the Rhone for a few minutes, then turned around at the confluence with the Saone, and headed northward up the Saone to tomorrow's scheduled stop in Burgundy.

 

As we cruised up the Saone, the sights got very pretty. Here's the Basilica that we had visited earlier today, Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière:

 

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And the Palais de Justice, with its front façade of white marble columns, looking like a Greco-Roman temple. Up on the hill you can see just how high up the Basilica sits.

 

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There are many bridges over this section of the Saone; this one up ahead of us is a footbridge -

 

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which leads to this interesting place, Place de l'Homme de la Roche (place of the man of the rock). A fitting description, I guess!

 

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The view from our top-floor cabin, as we passed under some of the lowest bridges, was very interesting. It almost seemed that you could reach out and touch the bridge - but instead, I found myself wanting to duck!

 

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The sunset colors were nice tonight - but dinner time was approaching. It's been almost 5 hours since we last ate, so we can't be late!

 

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Dinner tonight was quite nice. I went with the chef's suggestion of a poached egg in bacon/mushroom sauce (oeuf en meurette), Dijon mustard soup (sounds weird, but was tasty) and my main course was a delicious roasted chicken. Chris wasn't up for trying mustard soup so she had chicken soup and a nice dish with grouper for her entrée. Dessert was delicious crepes. The included white wine was a Sauvignon Blanc; didn't try the red.

 

A word about the dining room - there are round 4-tops, and rectangular 6-tops along the outer walls, and a few more rectangular tables in the back center. We didn't see bigger tables but probably in the back center portion, the tables could be put together to seat 8 or maybe 10. The 6-tops were technically a square 2-top next to a rectangular 4-top, but the tables were so close together that they functioned like a 6-top - there was at most 6 inches of space between the tables. As was our experience before on SS Antoinette, you wander in and seat yourself.

 

After dinner we spent some time in the lounge seeing what the musical entertainment was like - Ulf from Sweden, and his wife Rowena from the Philippines, were the act and they seemed like fun. A little dancing, then off to bed so that we can enjoy tomorrow's activities. We visit Burgundy tomorrow for a taste of the local food and wine.

Edited by jpalbny

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Loving following along your trip. From your photos I assume your stateroom or suite is on the port side. We will be on the starboard side so will not see Vieux Lyon on the sail toward Burgundy, right?

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can't wait to follow your trip...love your photos and dialogue..keep up the great work, jp and chris!

rick

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Thanks, Rick. My Picasa program is being a real pest this morning so organizing the next batch of pictures is taking way too much time. I'll get there...

 

jklc123, you are correct that we were on the port side. Vieux Lyon is on the right bank of the Saone so we had a great view while sailing northward. You would see it on the way back from Macon but it would be late at night. Depending on which direction you're going on this cruise, your timing would be different, though. We went Lyon to Avignon.

 

The top deck of SS Catherine is very nice and open though, so head there if you can't see what you want to see from your room.

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Monday 3/23 – Macon and Beaune – A Taste of Burgundy!

 

Slept a little later this morning but still had time for a nice relaxing breakfast before our drive to Beaune. It will be a bit of a drive today; 50 miles / 80 km. They will show us some of the countryside so we'll spend part of our time on the back roads on the way there. The one odd thing about this “included” tour is that we have free time for lunch on our own. We don't mind because we're always game to eat on our own – and we didn't hear anyone else complaining about it either – but it seems odd for an all-inclusive line to set up a tour this way.

 

We headed out on the A6 motorway, and stopped halfway there for a bathroom break at one of the rest areas. That may not sound too exciting unless you've ever driven the motorways in France... The rest areas are pretty neat! Lots of good food, and decent facilities. As an aside, we once drove from Nice to Paris in one day, and ate very nicely from rest area food that day. We didn't need any of the food this time, but I enjoyed looking at all of the odd foods that were for sale in the convenience store. Lays BBQ potato chips are familiar to me but those other flavors were fun to imagine. Wish they'd sold a sampler package...

 

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We turned off the motorway and headed out into some secondary roads, then started driving through small towns that were definitely not built for tour buses! We felt a little like invaders, rumbling through these tiny towns, but our driver was excellent and we passed without incident. At one point she had to stop the bus, and go find the driver of a truck that was stopped in front of a store, so he could move out or our way. Here's a traffic circle in the village of Puligny-Montrachet:

 

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And another little park in the center of Meursault:

 

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We stopped off at a scenic viewpoint just outside of Monthelie – there was still a little chill in the air but the sun was coming out, and the mist was burning off the valley below. It looked like a gorgeous day shaping up:

 

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The trees are still pretty dormant but the grass is much greener here (I mean that literally) than it is at home:

 

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One more small village to pass through before we get to Beaune – here is Pommard:

 

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We arrived in Beaune, found a place for the bus to drop us off, and followed our guide through the gates in the city wall for our walking tour. The sun is really shining nicely now, and the sky is a beautiful deep blue. Looks incredible!

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I'm really enjoying hearing about your trip since we will be there in May. I think you mentioned taking one of the optional excursions. I would be interested in hearing what you (or other passengers) thought about the optional excursions. I'm trying to decide if we want to take any of them.

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I'm really enjoying hearing about your trip since we will be there in May. I think you mentioned taking one of the optional excursions. I would be interested in hearing what you (or other passengers) thought about the optional excursions. I'm trying to decide if we want to take any of them.

 

We took the optional excursion to Pont du Gard and also the Truffle Farm / Chateauneuf du Pape wine tasting. We had $300 OBC from AMEX Platinum, which worked out to €270 with the incredible exchange rate... So they ended up being covered by the OBC with a little room to spare.

 

The Pont du Gard excursion was great and appropriately priced. The Chateauneuf du Pape was OK but a little overpriced IMO. The truffle farm portion was very entertaining, but the wine tasting was so-so.

 

People who did the Olive Farm / Les Baux optional expedition liked it, and the optional tour in Beaune received excellent reviews as well.

 

I'll post more details about the two we took as I get to them chronologically. I should get to them by May, but it is a slow process!

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<We took the optional excursion to Pont du Gard and also the Truffle Farm / Chateauneuf du Pape wine tasting. We had $300 OBC from AMEX Platinum, which worked out to €270 with the incredible exchange rate... So they ended up being covered by the OBC with a little room to spare.

 

The Pont du Gard excursion was great and appropriately priced. The Chateauneuf du Pape was OK but a little overpriced IMO. The truffle farm portion was very entertaining, but the wine tasting was so-so.>

 

I am surprised to read that these were optional tours, carrying an additional charge. We did the truffle farm and Chateauneuf du Pape with AMA last fall and these were included, as was Pont du Gard.

 

I thought Uniworld was more inclusive than AMA but apparently not when it comes to excursions.

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