Although the sites of the French riverside were the reason for us to go there for vacation, it was the staff on the Viking Heimdal that impressed us the most. Undeniably their online and television ads paint the picture of an effortless way to tour many cities. However, when you see how smoothly they run an ambitious operation, you must give credit to the staff that work incredibly hard over your cruise.
Firstly, the hotel manager and the cruise director have the most attention of the guests. Not only do they give you updates daily on the itineraries, but they are the point of contact for any of your needs while on your trip. Undoubtedly managing the whereabouts of all the passengers is a daunting task, but they seem to do it with a smile from early in the morning, to late at night. Indeed, I have admired how much they happily work while attempting to satisfy the requests of so many travelers!
In like fashion, a long river cruise ship requires a crew to physically ensure the boat is docked securely at each port. Being that a river has numerous bridges, the crew needed to be at the ready in case high waters required the preparation of the top deck from possible damage as we passed under. Of course, I thought that this needed to be done. However, the efficiency we saw every day as the ship continued up the river was like clockwork.
While on board, the food is better than at most restaurants I usually visit! Regardless of your dietary needs, they have plenty of options. From breakfast to dinner, they fuel you up for as much activity as you can take throughout the day. Surprisingly, they have a small onboard kitchen, but they produce more food than expected on every day of the cruise! Thanks especially to Robbie Sheriffs, the hotel manager that coordinated all of our needs while on board. He and his staff made our vacation better than we expected! Thanks to everyone on the Viking Heimdal for a beautiful cruise.
As our vacation on the Rhone River came to a close, we visited the cities of Vienne and Lyon. Besides become more populated as we went north, the terrain of the area also seemed to grow. As can be seen, we were hiking as high up the valley terrain as we could go. Vienne is home to many ancient Roman buildings that survive next to modern shops and cafes. Our tour guide pointed out the similarity of the design of the Temple of Augustus & Livia to buildings much closer to home. Thomas Jefferson, who visited Vienne while he was ambassador to France, used this temple as inspiration for buildings in the United States! Bring from Virginia, this was immediately apparent.
During a hike up Mount Pipet above the city, you are given a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Directly below you is the Roman theater that holds up to 13,000 spectators. The theater was buried for centuries. In the 1930x, it was uncovered completely. It is subsequently used for modern performances including the Vienna Jazz Festival which attracts international performers and audiences.
Vienne and Lyon
Lyon is the largest city on this trip. The Rhone and Saone river converge here at this second largest city of France. To be sure we saw the art and food that elevates this city to international fame. From the galleries, to large food halls with chefs on large advertisements, they have impressive diversity of culture throughout. Following our arrival discovering favorite areas was easy in this accessible area. The Old Town was walkable and accessible. At this time, we interacted with more of the people visiting the area, and we had many friendly interactions. Especially at the photo store where I was able to get a few of my favorite images printed to give as gifts to our tour operators.
Little did we think that only a few months later more Americans would flood the city to support the Women’s National Soccer team! The finals of the tournament is scheduled to be in Lyon where the United States brought home the top trophy again. Although we were not there for such a large event, we can see how this city has the capacity to host such an important, international tournament. Picturesque views as well as the best that France can offer in food helps to put their best foot forward. We enjoyed our short trip, and we look forward to a future trip to the south of France!
Continuing a previous post about a cruise on the Rhone River brings us to Viviers and Tournon-sur-Rhône. Although we had a leisurely morning planned for the day, I got up early to see the sun rise. At this time, we had docked in the marina in Viviers, France. The chilly morning yielded amazing morning light that burned off early fog and served as a backdrop to river wildlife. Waking and stretching out on the top deck was a peaceful start to a packed day of touring.
Firstly, we walked off the boat to tour the lovely old town section of Viviers. The most compelling evidence of the Roman origins were streets lined with symmetrically lined trees. Moreover, cobblestone streets throughout the homes in the walled city make a setting that takes you out of the modern world. Prominent in the middle of the old town is the Viviers Cathedral. As can be seen you get a beautiful panoramic view of the Rhone River valley below.
Subsequently, the itinerary was a cruise further up the river. While the ship leisurely traveled north, we stayed at the top deck to do some sightseeing. Of course, the surrounding countryside had our attention but watching the crew at work was equally intriguing. Due to elevated levels of the river, our ship would be remarkably close to touching the bottom of overhead bridges! With this in mind, the crew worked to remove all obstacles from the top deck! You can be sure I kept my head much lower than the very experienced team that was monitoring our progress!
The following day, we walked through the larger city of Tournon. It was a chance for us to walk through a local market. Additionally, we rode on an antique steam train through the Doux valley. Passing through the forest and over rustic bridges was a departure from touring by bus through this area.