“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”
– Lin Yutang
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
November 28, 2014
Can a bill make you teary-eyed? Yes, certainly. The end-of-cruise statement is never pleasant to get, though I got a bit misty today over a different part of it: the quote listed above is on the inner flap of Viking River Cruises’ Viking Forseti ‘s new account folders that come delivered to your stateroom as we wrap up this Chateaux, Rivers & Wine itinerary.
It sounds odd, sure, but I did really choke up when I opened the bill at breakfast this morning and saw that quote. It’s perfect. It’s beautiful. It’s exactly how I feel about travel. Why do we travel? To see something different. To appreciate the amazingness of the world around us. To meet new people.
To me, this cruise has, more than any other, changed my outlook on life and travel for a variety of reasons. Firstly, everyone is here because they want to be here; this is a terrible cruise for those who don’t absolutely fall head-over-heels in love with wine, because you’re going to drink a lot of it. Most guests have joked about needing new livers, and it’s only said half tongue-in-cheek. The vino does flow on this cruise, and Viking has brought on some of the very best of Bordeaux wines for guests to enjoy.
In fact, Viking Forseti is the only ship in the Viking fleet to have a full-time Sommelier. You can learn an amazing amount just by talking to Frank – he knows everything. The man is un-stumpable. But more than the knowledge of how wine is produced, though, the onboard atmosphere encourages guests to appreciate wine. Sure, it’s a bit of a social lubricant, but it’s not a drink you drink to get drunk; wine is something you drink to appreciate life.
If we needed any more reasons to appreciate life, Mother Nature gave that to us in spades today. We’re just plain being spoiled now. After all, how do you describe a day like today – a day drenched in sunshine, barely any clouds, and balmy temperatures that hit 21°C even during the dying days of November? You can’t. Bordeaux’s beauty today was indescribable; the postcard-perfect end to this stunning weeklong Chateaux, Rivers & Wine voyage.
All I wanted to do today: walk, explore and window shop. That’s what I did. And it was stunning, relaxing and rewarding. I joined a fellow guest and together we ate lunch at a place called Paul’s that serves fresh sandwiches and baguettes. On the outside, the place looks so high-end that you’re starting to think of how much cash you have on you. But, this is France – everything looks suitably spotless and fancy. Total cost of lunch? Less than 10 Euros.
To me, travel is all about possibility. Without travel, we’re destined to remain as we were – stuck in our ways, our thinking, and our lives. Travel isn’t really about buildings and monuments; it’s about people. That’s Viking’s greatest strength: they’ve got the best staff working for them, and arguably the best of the best were onboard Viking Forseti for us all week.
The same can be said of the guests. I’ve been on other river cruises, Viking included, where we’re “shutting down the bar” at the ripe old hour of 8:30 p.m. Not so here – nightlife generally went on well past midnight on many occasions, which is highly unusual for a river cruise. To me, here’s nothing like a lounge filled with clinking glasses, dancing people and live music to enhance the social atmosphere onboard.
For me, the adventures are far from being over; tomorrow, I leave the Viking Forseti and fly to Budapest for an overnight stay at the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest prior to boarding Viking Baldur on Sunday for a cruise along the Danube. It’s my first back-to-back river cruise experience. It seemed like a fantastic idea: fly once to Europe, cruise twice. While it makes total sense from a practical standpoint, there’s just one thing I’d never considered:
You can’t take the friends you’ve made with you.
Our full journey:
Viking Forseti - Chateaux, Rivers and Wine In Bordeaux
|November 22, 2014||Bordeaux, France||Arrival; free time.|
|November 23||Gironde River / Pauillac, France||Scenic Cruising / Medoc and Margaux wine country visit; wine tasting & evening at leisure|
|November 24||Blaye, France||Tour of Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site; afternoon free time or optional excursion to Cognac|
|November 25||Libourne, France||Tour of Saint-Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site & Pomerol wine region; afternoon at leisure or optional excursion to Bergerac|
|November 26||Garonne River / Cadillac, France||Scenic Cruising / Excursion to Sauternes wine region & wine tasting|
|November 27||Cadillac, France / Bordeaux, France||Morning city tour / evening at leisure in Bordeaux|
|November 28||Bordeaux, France||Tour of city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site; afternoon at leisure|
|November 29, 2014||Bordeaux, France||Disembark Viking Forseti; flight to Budapest, Hungary for the start of our next Live Voyage Report!|
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