Today we had the unusual later arrival time of 1pm, although departure time wasn’t until 10pm to make up for it. The sun was shining brightly and we went up on the promenade deck to see the Astoria sail into the month of the River Seine – gateway to Paris!
As usual there was a lot of what looked like as oil storage tanks on the far side bank, while the other was studded by what looked like as very expensive sea-front houses as we approached the port of Honfleur. The white beaches looked pristine and relatively empty.
We docked quietly in the cruise terminal and the covered “gangplank” was extended for passengers to disembark to the waiting shuttle bus service. The drop off/pick up location at La Gare Router, rue Jean de Vienne, was a short walk away from the Vieux Bassin (old harbour).
Debbie and I decided to explore the old town and the inside the Church of Sainte-Catherine which was wooden with a separate bell-tower which struck us as very unusual. What struck me was the sheer number of French tourists, not just the Brits from the cruise that were milling around in the sun and tucking into what looked like a large amount of seafood & wine. This looks promising I thought…
We hadn’t gone long when we found ourselves back at the old harbour where we bumped into our friends George & Thelma Hooper. George is a retired railwayman and reminded me of Debbie’s father in the way that only Welsh storytellers can. As we chatted with them I noticed a horse and cart ride that looked interesting, with no queue and what seemed good value for money when I enquired, so we decided to go along with another couple for a tour of the ancient town and rest our tired legs.
This proved to be a good decision and with Thelma waving regally at the passers by and all of us smirking as we listened to the driver instruct the horse to stop, go quicker, turn left and turn right. The latter sounded like deux, deux for some reason so Thelma asked him what it all meant and he replied, much to our amusement, that he only spoke “horse” not English! I did manage to find out that the horse, which looked a bit like a Shire to me, was called “Vodka”…
As the sun shone on other weary tourists we trotted through the narrow streets in a big curve to the right arriving back at our start point about 20 minutes later. Great fun! After that the four of us felt a bit thirsty so we headed back to what looked like a pub, where I was concerned we wouldn’t be allowed to sit on a table outside, unless we all ordered a full sit down meal.
Luck was with us when the very friendly French waiter allowed us to sit down and so I ordered a “pichet de vin blanc” (carafe of white wine) for us to share while naughtily I ordered six “huitres” or oysters which I devoured with gusto.
We were all enjoying so much just sitting in the sun and chatting I couldn’t bear to go so ordered another carafe of wine to pass some more time in such pleasant surroundings and company.
Eventually that too ran out and so we prepared to make our way back to the shuttle bus. About halfway we saw two rather elderly and small men in their late seventies admiring some Harley Davison motor bikes. We recognised them from the ship and started talking to them when it transpired that like George they had done their National Service in the RAF. hey had seemingly got separated from their wives and trying to help I asked them what they looked like and much to my consternation they were unable to give me a description!
Much Mickey taking of each other later, we left these sprightly fellows behind and made our way (a little unsteadily it has to be said) back to the bus. Safely on-board a rather worried lady then came up to us and asked if we had seen her husband who had gone of with his mate and left her and her friend without saying where they were going. A hurried explanation from us that they were last seen admiring some bikes and they shot off looking for them…
We saw them all later safely on board the Astoria, where I fancy the “lads” were in a bit of trouble. Apparently the older chap who wore a flat cap and was rather small had been a biker himself from age 18 to 80 and had only given it up recently! His slightly younger friend too had been a rider and over drinks later with his wife it transpired that his wife had been married before to a biker who unfortunately had been killed in a road accident years before. Looks as they say really can be deceiving!
Later we enjoyed a number of drinks listening to Katya and Olga who played the piano & violin together in the Sirenes bar and feeling quite tired, we decided to give the show a miss that evening and retire to our cabin for an early night. It had been a great day and we resolved to meet up with George and Thelma back in Wales, but before that we had tomorrow to look forward to together, when we would dock in St. Peter Port in Guernsey.