Since my last blog we’ve visited the famous port city of St. Malo, the historic village of Dinan, the French capital of Paris….and had a bit of a high seas drama. Not bad in a couple of days, eh?
First St. Malo and Dinan……after a morning at sea and a bit of a late arrival, we went on a shore excursion to an extremely old and famous village in Brittany called Dinan. The old quarter is housed inside the ramparts of castle walls, and to say there’s a photo op on virtually every corner you turn isn’t an understatement. We walked its narrow, cobbled streets, browsed at its art galleries and souvenir shops, had coffee, and marvelled at the architecture and churches.
Back in St. Malo hours later, it was fast approaching 6pm and we had a few hours to explore this fascinating walled medieval city perched on the Atlantic, and the top tourist site in Brittany (according to our guide earlier). Also picturesque, we walked its impressive ramparts end to end, offering views of the off shore islands, the ship at anchor outside the harbour and the expanse of the ocean beyond.
It’s rugged and exposed – we saw photographs in a shop which showed how big the surf can get here also, projecting wildly beyond the city walls. Eventually a combination of cold and fatigue got the better of us, so we took a tender back to the ship and enjoyed the view from afar.
Our next port of call was Honfleur, near Le Havre, and from there we took a long, full-day excursion to Paris…another trip down memory lane for Ben and me, as one of the last places we visited before moving back to Australia just over 13 years ago. It was a bit of a gamble to go…..a long bus ride there and back and a quick fire tour of one or Europe’s most expansive, impressive and grandiose cities, but it was well worth the effort.
We started with a bus ride through the green and pretty Normandy countryside, just shy of three hours including a “comfort” stop about half an hour outside of the city. Arriving around 11.30 we then saw some of the sights….unfortunately it was drive-by only – no op to stop – but for those who hadn’t been to Paris before they got to see Notre Dam, the Eiffel Tower, Place de Vendome and some other famous landmarks before being dropped off for an hour and 15 minutes of free time.
We were in the area of the Paris Opera, so headed for a simple cafe for a classic baguette with chicken and salad, and then explored the area briefly before heading back to the bus for some more landmark sightseeing. This time, however, the driver negotiated a couple of stops, one at the Place de Concorde and the other briefly at a spot which affords a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower – it was only for five minutes, but we got the shots and everyone seemed happy enough.
From there we had the long bus ride back to Honfleur, which too, just on two and a half hours with no stopping. The ship left at 6.30pm, thirty minutes late due to a few missing passengers, but the real drama emerged during dinner a few hours later, our second visit to the fabulous Jacques. We noticed that the ship was banking significantly and it appeared to be turning around…..then the captain made a public announcement – we knew there was trouble afoot.
A medical emergency was forcing the ship back to Le Harve to offload a seriously ill guest to a helicopter. As we listened we all felt sad for whoever the person was, but as the sun set in glorious fashion it made us all the more determined to enjoy what proved to be another legendary dining experience.
Today we are at sea, in the North Sea to be precise, heading for Copenhagen. Even with the drama and time lost yesterday, the ship is running at full speed so we will make the Danish capital on time at midday. From there have the rest of the day to explore the city (again for us, a trip down memory lane), finish our packing and round off an incredible cruise with a return to Red Ginger for dinner.
On Saturday we fly to Brussels for a few days, and will then begin the long trek home to Sydney. My last blog will wrap everything up, including a report back from Copenhagen, and offer our final thoughts on Marina and the cruise. Right now, however, the other half of our celebratory bottle of champagne is waiting in an ice bucket, and the ice has shifted as if to remind us it’s time for a drink. So for now, cheers and happy cruising!