After two stress free weeks on the Viking Star cruising Scandinavia, we must sadly return to the real world. This was our first time on Viking, and we were very pleased. The food was excellent. Every dinner required a tough choice between a number of entrees and appetizers I really wanted to try. There was no choosing the lesser of the evils. And all the meals ranged from good to excellent. The service throughout the ship could not have been better. To our complete surprise, we also liked most of the evening entertainment more than that on Celebrity. We expected the much larger Celebrity ships would be able to afford better entertainment, but Viking catered more to our age bracket with songs we knew and singers that didn’t feel the need to scream. The only worry in the world was getting back to the boat before it left the port.
Our trip to Provence started with a flight to Nice, France. When we asked where we should check in for our flight, we were directed to a bank of automatic machines. We soon were holding our baggage tags and boarding passes. So far, nothing too unique. Everyone else was putting the tag on their bags, so we did the same. We then went to the baggage drop, and found a conveyor that was standing still. We put our bag on the conveyor and scanned the tag we had just attached. The conveyor started, transferred the bag to the collecting conveyor, and stopped for the next customer. We had checked in without interacting with another human being. Wait until Spirit finds out you can do that!
Our plane got into Nice a few minutes early and everything seemed to be going well for meeting our apartment owner to get the keys. However, Nice is on the French Riviera and it appeared all the families in Europe were going there for summer vacation. The airport was chaos with children running everywhere. It took 45 minutes to get our bags. Then there was the task of getting the rental car which involved a shuttle bus to another terminal and a long walk in the heat lugging our suitcases to find the poorly marked rental car center. We arrived soaked in perspiration to find a large room full of people in an assortment of lines. One woman who was in the middle of the longest line claimed to have been in line for two hours! We had already checked in painlessly at the first terminal, so we only had to find a Hertz guy to give us our key. I managed to achieve that without standing in any lines, but we did have to stand in line for the elevator to take us to the floor where our car was parked. Then we had to learn the quirks of a new car. Our biggest challenge was opening the trunk. We were finally able to get some lunch about 4 PM and we arrived at our destination only a little over an hour late.
Our apartment is located right in the center of L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue. It is known as the Venice of France as the Sorgue River splits into many canals running through the town.Our apartment is in the heart of the historic area of town behind a big plane tree and next to an antique store. Better yet, it is one door from a bakery! We like everything about the apartment except the stairs. It is on the European second floor which would be our third floor since their ground floor is zero. It has narrow steep winding stairs.Let me introduce you to the main intersection of our stair system. Straight ahead are the stairs winding down to the ground. To the left is the shower and wash basin. Note that the floor at this door is fraught with peril. To the far right are the steps up to our bedroom. And finally on the right, taking off from the bedroom steps are the steps up to the only toilet. We have both pledged never to use the steps without holding on to the handrail and to always turn the light on if we go to the toilet in the night! We woke this morning to find the largest market in Provence beneath our window (this was not a surprise). It stretched throughout the town and had anything you could ever want for sale. This is a big town for antique stores and one long street had nothing but antique booths.The market even featured two classical cello players beside our front door. We opened our window so we could enjoy the music.The town still has fifteen water wheels on the canals (down from 44 originally). We did the water wheel walk this afternoon. Some of them still turn, but most of them do not. We are finding it to be another charming French town.