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Viking River Cruise Trip Report Part 2
      #1449329 - 10/22/12 02:15 PM (24.115.32.217)

Day 1 of Cruise
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Sunny High 76 Low 47


Chalon-sur-Soane
We arrived in Frankfurt for our connection to Lyon on time. After this trip Frankfurt has joined Dusseldorf and Miami as airports to avoid if at all possible. It was confusing, surprisingly dirty with unhelpful, sullen employees.

When we got to passport control, we joined a very long line for non-EU passports. While we were waiting we noticed that John and Fran’s ticket had a different gate than ours. John had gone to check on his air miles while we were still in Philly, and they apparently issued him a new ticket. Both gates were in the same vicinity so we decided we’d confirm the gate when we got to the correct terminal.

Frankfurt passport control was downright scary. There was a man at one window and a woman at the other. They remained totally expressionless. They didn’t motion you forward but just stared at you. I pointed at myself and shrugged. The guy nodded his head one time. He never spoke and took a long time to go through our passports. His expression never changed.

Our next challenge was finding Terminal A. We followed the signs until we came to one that pointed straight at a blank wall. Being the bright group that we are, we figured out we needed to take the escalator up and catch a tram to our gate.

BUT before that we had to go through security. What an experience. Fran caused an alarm to go off, but has no idea why. John and I got through with no problem. Then there was Paul. First his knee set off an alarm. Then he was taken over to the area for carry-on screening. He had a neck pillow hanging over his carry on handle that they swapped it at least 3 times with something. They continued to swab some more stuff in his carry-on—none of them things the TSA questioned. (I realize we are not dealing with the TSA in Germany). Then they went through his pockets. He was carrying 2 wallets one for US dollars the other for Euros. They searched both of them several times. At some point they called a supervisor over. They finally decided to let him through. It was enough to make you vow never to fly anywhere again.

We finally got on the tram to Terminal A. John and Fran’s tickets showed Gate 21. Ours showed Gate 23. I decided to walk down to Gate 23 while the others waited at Gate 21. I found an actual person at Gate 23. I asked which gate was correct. She looked it up and said, “Gate 21—for now.” During the confusion over gates, Paul lost his pillow that had caused so much concern at security.

We were called for boarding. All of us had E-tickets. The scanner took several tries before the metal gates were flung open. From the terminal we were bused to the plane for Lyon. Our seats were all over the place with none of us sitting together. The man sitting next to me very graciously offered to switch with Paul. Fran sat with an opera singer who is apparently well known in Europe, but not in the US. John ended up sitting by himself.

Just as everyone was buckled in and waiting for take-off the following announcement was made: “We are sorry for the delay, but we have an electrical problem. Our technical crew will be here shortly.” We were about 45 minutes late leaving Frankfurt.

At baggage claim in Lyon my bag was the last one off the plane. That seems to happen every time we go to France.

We found our Viking contact and joined the rest of the group she had met. We then headed for the elevator to our ground transportation. However, the gods were not finished with us yet.

The elevator made a terrific grinding noise and jolted to a bone jarring, abrupt stop. We were stuck a few inches below where we should have been. Of course, the doors would not open.

Our Viking rep was on her cell phone making various calls to get help. It was Sunday, and there was not much available. People at the café across from the elevator came over and tried pushing the buttons on the outside.

In the meantime, Fran, who was only going to audit our French tutoring, is yelling through the glass door, “Parlez vous Anglais?” Paul and I were trying really hard not to laugh. Fran and John had also gotten stuck in an elevator in Amsterdam on our first Viking cruise.

Later Paul told Lois, he couldn’t vouch for the pronunciation, but the volume was there.

Finally, and I don’t know long it was, security and we think mechanics or firemen came and used a tool to release the doors. They used their hands to open the doors.

We still had a 1 ½ hour bus ride. One part of you just wanted to go to sleep, the other part didn’t want to miss anything.

We were all admiring some very pretty French architecture only to find that it was right across the street from the Viking Europe, the same ship that we took for the Romantic Danube Cruise.

After the lunch buffet on board, we went for a walk to Isle St. Laurent in Chalon-sur-Soane. We really regretted that we didn’t have more time in this pretty city.

After we got back to the ship, we sat in the lounge for only a few minutes before we were told our cabins were ready. This time we were escorted to our room. Turned out it was a good thing because I’d given them the wrong cabin number. Our escort moved our stuff to the correct cabin. We unpacked and rested for a short time then headed to the lounge for Cocktail Hour and Embarkation and Safety Briefing.

After our briefing, a very thorough description of our dinner was given by Viking’s Corporate Chef, Magalie Kaufling from Alsace. She is in charge of food for the entire Viking fleet. She was aboard to train the new Chef de Cuisine, David. We also think she was developing menus. Each evening first Magalie, then Magalie and David, and finally David gave a description of our dinner. Our first dinner was wonderful.

After dinner there was an overview of the regions we would be visiting, and an overview of our excursions the next day given by the Program Director, Susann Otto.

Day 2
Monday, September 17
Sunny High 74 Low 43


Beaune, Tournous, and Maçon

Since our last river cruise, Viking has started a system of rating the difficulty of the walking tours from 1 to 3. At times their rating didn’t really make sense because one of the most difficult tours was rated a 2 and 2 others that were much easier but longer tours were rated a 3.

Our tour for Beaune left promptly at 8 AM. In Beaune there was an option of a leisurely tour. The leisurely group shared a bus with another group for the bus trip from Chalon-sur-Soane to Beaune. We opted for the leisurely group and met up with our guide in Beaune. We saw everything the other groups did with plenty of time to take photos, etc.

Our first stop was the Musée Hostel Dieu founded in 1443 as a hospital for the poor. It was amazing what was done.

The street side of the hospital is Intentionally quite plain. However, once in the courtyard, you see beautiful Burgundian architecture with gorgeous Flemish tile roofs.

The setup inside was interesting. The beds were in a straight line on either side of room facing the alter. The ceiling beams were painted to help the patients pray because this was a time when most people could neither read nor write. There was a curtained corridor behind the beds. The nuns cared for the patients from there.

The thing that surprised me the most was that there were actual faucets in the form of large swan’s heads in the kitchen. Just how they worked was never mentioned, but running water was not common.

Many of the vineyards in the area are still owned by the Hospices de Beaune.

Our next stop was at Le Cellier de la Cabiote. We were treated to a wonderful wine tasting. We have been to wine tastings before, but learned much more on this one than any of the others we’ve attended.

Our guide made the comment that they wanted to take us to a very good wine cellar that did not charge exorbitantly high prices.

We were given a list of the wines we would be tasting as well as the palate cleansers listed as Gourgeres et Pain . I don’t know what the translation is for gourgeres. I’ve never seen one. Pain is bread. We tasted 2 white wines and 2 red wines. .

The last thing that we tasted was Double Crème Cassis. We’d never thought of drinking this straight and had always had it in mixed drinks. It was quite good.

We had free time to wander around the charming town before boarding our buses back to the ship just in time for lunch. During lunch we set sail from Chalon-sur-Soane to Tournous.

An optional tour was offered to Cluny from Tournous. Paul and I opted not to take this one. We spent a leisurely afternoon on the sundeck and enjoyed French pastries in the lounge.

Fran and John did go to Cluny and thoroughly enjoyed it. While they were in Cluny, the ship set sail for Maçon where the Cluny tour met the ship.

The “Welcome Aboard Reception” started the evening with your choice of Champagne or Kir Royale and hor-d’oeuvres. The senior staff members were introduced and each gave a very short welcoming speech.

We were told was that the cruise was fully booked with 145 passengers and 40 crew members. Of the 145 passengers, 90 were repeat cruisers with Viking. Both the hotel manager and the program director said that had never happened before. There were more younger passengers on this cruise than on our previous cruises on Viking. Those seemed to be all passengers over 50.

After our daily briefing for the next day we headed for the “Welcome Dinner.” It was an excellent meal that Magalie described with great enthusiasm.

After dinner there was a lecture on French cheeses followed by a tasting. We did not go because we did not want to eat anything else after such a good dinner.

The ship stayed docked in Maçon overnight. No one left the ship at this docking,


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Carol_HillAdministrator
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Re: Viking River Cruise Trip Report Part 2 [Re: swg]
      #1449349 - 10/22/12 03:13 PM (71.101.41.196)

Thanks so much for taking the time to post this. It sounds lovely so far!!

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swg
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Joined: 10/20/03
Posts: 327
Re: Viking River Cruise Trip Report Part 2 [Re: Carol_Hill]
      #1449603 - 10/23/12 09:34 PM (24.115.32.217)

Hi Carol,

I usually keep a journal when we do these trips. On this one I had no time to do so. This is from memory with some help from Paul, Viking materials we got before our cruise, and the daily schedule given out during our cruise.

I loaded up my e-reader, got my journal ready, and never even looked at either of them because this was a very active cruse. So, there is more coming because we did so much, and hopefully a link to some photos.

Sue


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Carol_HillAdministrator
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Re: Viking River Cruise Trip Report Part 2 [Re: swg]
      #1449607 - 10/23/12 09:38 PM (108.117.53.145)

OK, looking forward to seeing the rest of the story and some pictures! Would love to be able to do a similar cruise some day!

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