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Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 543
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

May 28, 2013

Pauline, Could your friend be thinking of the Lady with the Unicorn tapestry that is in Paris at the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages?

If you're not comfortable using the ATM at the airport you could get some euros at your bank. I always head right to the ATM when I land and, like another poster, usually have enough left from a trip for a start on the next.

Your trip is getting close. I hope it's wonderful!

I agree with Jack, if you have knee problems going downstairs is worse than going up. So a collapsible cane or trekking pole would help take some of the pressure off and also help with balance.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

May 28, 2013

I know about going down stairs through bitter experience.  And I always travel with a collapsible cane, although most times I don't have to use it.  I did in Israel, because the pavement is so uneven and I needed it for moral support.  It's not only the knees, I believe.  I think it has something to do with one's center of gravity.

As far as ATMs in airports, I usually do get a supply when I first arrive somewhere.  But it's so easy to get Euros here that if I'm going to a country where that is the currency, I start off with a little bit.  Made a terrible mistake when we went to Israel in November.  Our flight was so delayed that by the time we landed, it was Shabbat and the ATMs at the airport were all locked up.  The next day, also Shabbat, we did manage to find one ATM near the Old City that would allow a limited withdrawal.  We hadn't bothered getting Shekels ahead, because our travel agent told us there was an ATM right where you pick up your luggage.  True, but no good to us that night.

My friend has described enough detail about what she remembers that it does sound like the Bayeaux tapestry.  And she remembers how long a piece it is.  But, as I said, it's almost 60 years ago that we were in Paris at the same time.  We could have seen a reproduction in some museum somewhere.

 

Author: baywaves

Joined: 3/19/2010
Posts: 15
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2001

June 05, 2013

The optional trip to the Bayeaux Tapestry also included the Notre Dame Cathedral in Bayeaux.  It was beautiful.  We thought it was worth the money and the drive on the bus.

As for Euros, we always use the ATM at the airport and take out what we think we'll need for the duration of the trip.  There is a fee for the ATM but it's usually less than what local banks charge to get Euros for you.  Just be sure that you have a numerical pin for your ATM card.

Lynn

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 176
GCT Trips Taken: 13
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

June 17, 2013

For Pauline who asked for my review of Optionals on this cruise. (trip report on other board later)

Bayeux: 1.5 hrs to and 1.5 hrs.? back:  Did not go myself but asked 2 diverse opinions how they liked it. Both said it was very interesting. Asked what else they saw on this trip: one said "very little" the other said "not much, but there was a lovely cathedral, but it was a long bus ride back to the boat.

Abbey St Wandrille: None of us went. PD's cancelled it. there was a tall ship armada docked in Rouen and EVERYONE wanted to go.  Right on the Seine, walking distance from the Bizet. Great! Weather perfect! 2 couples who did not scratch their names were disappointed. If they had rebooked the Abbey tour for another down time, we might have gone.

Fecamp and Cliffs of Entreat: Rainy and very windy. We took it anyway and glad we did. Saw the cliffs which Monet painted (Painting is in the Boudin Museum in Honfleur). Surf was gorgeous but forget the umbrellas.   Visit to Benedictine Abbey was surprisingly educational, not crowded and its history was very interesting.

Versailles was wonderful. Perfect weather. Joelle, our guide, was great. Not too crowded in the afternoon after all. Cool inside with a great breeze. Gardens were gorgeous if a little underbloomed. Thank heavens Giverny was GORGEOUS.   Fountains only on weekends. France's version of sequester.

Louvre crowded but we had Joelle as our guide again. Went first thing in the morning, crowds ok. Rather warm inside Louvre. Whispers were a blessing everywhere.

Dinan: Like this very much, Perfect weather by water. Our guide Peter took us to Saint Sulliac, a 14th century village. Charming interesting. Sure GCT is including this because Dinan can be covered quickly.

Just got home yesterday afternoon. WONDERFUL TRIP. Lots of walking. Bring comfortable shoes. Cobblestones are a killer.     Florence. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

June 17, 2013

Oh, thanks so much for that prompt post, Florence.  I'll look forward to your review on the other page.

My plans are moving right along.  Told the bank and my credit card companies that I'll be out of the country, when and where.  Made arrangements with my limo company for transportation to and from the airport.  I still have to suspend mail and newspaper deliveries, but there's time for that.  The only other issue is clothes.  Right now, my packing list consists of two pairs of SAS shoes (one to wear on the plane), my folding cane and a raincoat.

Pauline

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

June 18, 2013

What kind of outer jacket did you bring in addition to a rain jacket?  I'll be wearing a denim jacket on the plane, but I'll have a cardigan in my carry-on.  Also, that beige GCT rain jacket which ran very large.  I have the small size, and it will fit over anything.  But I'd prefer not to pack a fleece jacket if I can help it.  They fill up so much of the suitcase, and I hope not to bring my largest one.  I do have a fleece vest, which might be better.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 543
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

June 18, 2013

Pauline,

I vote for the fleece vest! It keeps your core warm and would be perfect under your rain jacket. I tend to get chilly and always pack a fleece or quilted vest and have worn them on many trips. Sometimes I just need one when starting out in the morning or on cool evenings.

They are lightweight and easy to pack, roll up the fleece and put a large rubber band around it so it will stay put in your luggage.

Have a wonderful trip. I'll be watching for your report when you return.

 

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 176
GCT Trips Taken: 13
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

June 18, 2013

I agree with Luisa.  A light fleece vest is all you need. I took a light fleece jacket and wore it in the mornings when it was cooler. The raincoat I only wore a few times and my husband only wore the raincoat.  Vest is a much better choice. but take the raincoat.  It rolled up tightly in my carryon so was no bother. If it is as windy at Normandy beaches, you will definitely need the hood.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

June 24, 2013

I just read your very informative review.  One thing that only a couple of reviewers seems to have mentioned is the home-hosted visit.  And one who did mention it really panned it.  Said the place was not clean, and the host didn't seem prepared for them.  So that's something I probably won't do.  Did you do it?

I tend to take most of these reviews with a grain of salt.  Especially, when I look at what they may complain about.  For example, one person was very surprised that people didn't dress for dinner.  But for this trip, most people enjoyed it very much.  And I expect to.  Eleven days to go!

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 176
GCT Trips Taken: 13
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

June 24, 2013

Pauline:  We did not do the home hosted visit which was in Vernon.  Some 8somes were driven to their hosts; other 8somes walked to theirs. We chose to have some free time to catch up on rest in the lounge, showers, etc. The home hosted visits were 4 pm and they were back by 5:30 pm.   We did not regret this decision to stay on board. My review was abbreviated, so feel free to ask anything on concerning questions. 

Florence

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

June 24, 2013

I've had varied experiences with the home-hosted visits. 

The first one was on the Classic Costa del Sol, and it was not a pleasant experience.  The hosts didn't talk with us at all or even smile and nod.  Then when we were finished, they demanded money.  If our PD hadn't shown up at that point, who knows what could have happened.

The next one was the Best of Eastern Europe right after 9/11.  We really lucked out with those people.  Papa, who did the cooking with the help of his oldest daughter, worked for Mazda.  Mama, second wife and the mother of the two youngest daughters, worked at the Swiss Embassy and taught English.  Grandma had lived for years in Binghampton, NY, sat down at the upright piano and played God Bless America and we all sang.  Uncle was visiting from Brooklyn with his girlfriend and had been on the Brooklyn Bridge when the planes flew into the WTC.

Those were the worst and the best.  One, Costa Rica, wasn't even in a home.  It was in a restaurant owned by the family.  I'm not sure how to rate that, although the food was very good.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

June 28, 2013

I hope this is the last question.  I know that the Bizet has Wi-fi, but I'm not really sure what that means.  I don't travel with a laptop or notebook.  Is there a computer in the library for people to access their e-mail?  If not, I have to let family know not to depend on me sending or receiving mail while I'm on the cruise.  There's a website that, supposedly, lists all the internet cafes all over the world and it's kept up to date, they say.  I checked and couldn't find any listed in Rouen or Honfleur.  I suppose that the hotel in St. Malo has something.

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 176
GCT Trips Taken: 13
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

June 28, 2013

Pauline: The Bizet no longer has computers to borrow as they did in 2010 when we took the same trip at Christmastime.  We carry an International Phone if we indeed need to get in touch with home. (They have all our info: hotels #'s; Bizet #'s.)  Several people carried iPads or the like and communicated often with home, as well as taking pictures all over with them.

 

Wifi (the signals to pick up your messages etc.) is on the Bizet unless there is a blank area and cannot get a signal. Don't know about St Malo. It was the beginning of our trip and I did not feel  the urge to call home.

Your PD will probably be sending you an email soon.  They want to know of any questions or concerns. This would be a perfect time to ask about yours.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

June 28, 2013

Thanks, Florence.  I know there are plenty of internet cafes in Paris, but as you said I wouldn't need to get in touch that early.  In the old days, we never expected to be in constant contact anyway.  I'll let everybody know they probably won't be able to reach me unless it's an emergency and that I will not be sending mail.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 23, 2013

Well, after all my planning and preparations, I missed out on a lot.  During the city walk in Rouen, I fell down.  Lionel Auber, the PD for the red group, was walking right behind me and he said that I was watching where I was going, but that a cobblestone was sticking out (or something) and the toe of my shoe hit it.  And down I went!  Lionel called for the emergency services and an ambulance came with three EMTs who checked me over and decided I should go to the hospital.  The doctor there did more checking, put some surgical glue on a cut and told me to keep it dry. 

So I didn't take any of the city walks or do any exploring on my own, especially if there were cobblestones, of which there are a lot in these old cities.  I'd been to Conflans, Vernon, Giverny and Les Andelys by that time.  And I'm so glad I didn't miss them.

Two days after I fell, we went to the Normandy Invasion sites and the American Cemetery.  I managed that with help from the nicest group of people I've ever traveled with.  Everyone was so solicitous and ready with an arm or a hand.  The experience at the Cemetery was very moving, and I'm sure I wasn't the only person who cried.  That was July 14th, Bastille Day, and their were fireworks all over the country.  We went up to the sun deck on the Bizet and watched from about 11:30, and they were spectacular.

The last day of the main tour, we went to Caen to visit the Peace Memorial.  Another moving experience and worth more time than was available to us.  Then we split up, our group to head to Brittany and the other two to the airport either to fly home the next day or to London for the post-trip extension.

Brittany was charming, but I can't say much about Mont St. Michel since I only went a little way up.  The guide there was the least satisfactory of any on our tour.  She refused to slow down in spite of repeated requests.  The next day we left for Paris, stopping in Chartres to visit the Cathedral, with the most spectacular stained glass I've ever seen.  It's a miracle that it's survived over the centuries.

Food was wonderful everywhere, which is to be expected since this is France.  The Bizet is smaller than other GCCL river ships I've traveled on, but it has everything.  And great crew and staff.  And we had three wonderful Program Directors  -  Lionel Auber, Eva Bickerton, and Nadege Nechadi.

I may, or may not, write a review on the other page since I'm really turned off by the new format. 

I've spoken with Trip Mate, and there's nothing to do at this point unless, or until, I receive a bill from the hospital in Rouen.  They didn't want me to sign anything (and I asked), so I don't know whether I will receive anything.  The coverage for that remains active for a long time.  But any medical expenses I incur now will be covered by my own insurance.  So apart from some really colorful bruises on my face, I'm fine.  They will fade eventually.

 

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 242
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

July 23, 2013

So sorry to hear you fell on the first few days of your Seine river cruise.  That's always my worry when I'm walking on cobblestones or rocks to someplace just have to see. 

I think it is not unusual to  not be charged for medical emergencies in France and Germany.  I've heard of this before.  But, when I had been taken by ambulance in Moscow, and treated by an American-Russian who ran a medical clinic for travelers and embassy folks, I was asked to give a credit card on the spot, and my account was charged upon my discharge before I was even dressed.  $1200 plus; he included taxi charge back to my hotel in the charge.  And I know in Singapore, you don't get treated until you give credit card.  You probably won't see a bill.

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 176
GCT Trips Taken: 13
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

July 24, 2013

I, too, am so sorry to hear of your unfortunate incident.  Indeed, the cobblestones are a peril. 
Would this have been averted if you had a balancing walking cane?  I used mine several times over the walks since I don't pay attention half the time to the ground around me.  Several of us were calling places to watch everywhere we went.  My heart hurts for you and hope you are well on your way to recovery.  (an old N.Y. expression: 'it could have been worse')  Be well/  Florence

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 24, 2013

Florence, what's a balanced walking stick?  Is it the one with the four-pronged base?  There was a woman on the tour who had one of those, and she told me she liked it because it would stand up by itself instead of needing to be hooked over something.

I was watching where I put my feet and not looking around, since I was so concerned about those cobblestones.  So unless we stopped while the guide pointed to things or explained things, I kept my head down.  And I did have a regular cane.  So it was just one of those unavoidable things.  And, as you say, it could have been a lot worse.

So I'm left with some colorful bruises that will fade with time and regret that I missed out on some things I was looking forward to.  And a lot of gratitude to everyone on the ship, the three Program Directors and my fellow travelers who were so helpful.

Pauline

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 543
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

July 24, 2013

I'm sorry that you fell and have bruises as reminders, but am glad there are  no broken bones. It's good that you were in a country with good medical care. I wouldn't be surprised if you never receive a bill.

 I'm very wary of the cobblestones and any uneven sidewalks. I have seen travelers fall on the city walks. The worst was an older man who fell in Florence and broke his hip so had replacement surgery in Italy.

Were you able to get around Honfleur?  Too bad about the PD on the extension.

The fireworks on July 14 must have been spectacular.

I don't think the quad cane would have helped any more than the one you used. 

I hope you'll be fully recovered -- no bruises or aches -- very soon. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 24, 2013

Luisa, it wasn't the PD in Honfleur that I complained about.  It was the local guide for Mont. St. Michel.  Lionel was, as always, wonderful.  I didn't go much past the drawbridge at Mont St. Michel; Lionel found me a place in a bar to sit and have coffee and watch the crowds go by while he did some paperwork.  Very soon, I was joined by another person in our group who was having some difficulties.  But what I was told later was that people kept asking the local guide to slow down and she refused saying there was too much to see.  There were a number of other people using canes and several without who seemed somewhat wobbly.  But they had people with them, so they managed.

What surprised all of us was the number of babies in backpacks and small children in strollers and how well behaved all of them were in a place that couldn't have interested them.  Plus the dogs.  I saw two lovely grayhounds, and the people with them told me they had adopted them.  I know someone who does that, so I was interested.

Lionel sent four of us back first before the others came down, because he said we moved slower.  We may have, but we waited quite a while at the shuttle bus stop for the first of the rest.  And finally went back to the Relais, leaving a few behind for the next shuttle.

I'm still glad I went.  I wouldn't have missed what I did manage to see and experience for anything.

Pauline

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