I admit it: my husband I are hooked on river cruising. Once upon a time we thought it was fun to schlep our suitcases around by underground and walk for miles in search of unique destinations. Now we've discovered the joy of being met at the airport by a friendly face and having our suitcases taken to our room where we can unpack them for a whole week. A small floating hotel will take us to those unique destinations while we sit on deck and enjoy the scenery. And when we arrive, we can just walk off the boat and new delights are right at hand. We've discovered Viking River Cruises.
Take, for example, the point of embarkation for our most recent cruise: Avignon. The cruise was named "Portraits of Southern France" and Avignon was a perfect starting place. We arrived in the morning and our room was not yet ready, so we decided to go out and explore. This was easy to do because our boat was docked directly across from the old city walls and quite close to the famous bridge. After visiting the bridge (though not dancing on it), we headed for a small museum which was not on the official itinerary but which has an excellent collection of medieval and early Renaissance art. Then we returned to the boat for a nap and a general introduction. After dinner we were free to go ashore again, because we did not sail until midnight. We happened to be there during the theater festival so the whole city was bursting with activity, and we strolled happily past mimes and jugglers and dancers, a beautifully illuminated carousel, and a multitude of cafÃ©s doing a lively business. There was even a giant Ferris wheel set up across from our boat. What a wonderful welcome!
Southern France is very beautiful, truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. We had several half days when we were just cruising past vineyards and farms and villages. You could work on your tan or read a book in the shade and soak up the peace and tranquility. On one excursion in Burgundy we passed through ancient towns which looked little changed by the years. We saw dark forests and private chateaux and fields of sunflowers. I dream now of spending a vacation in a little cottage or B&B in Burgundy or Provence and getting to know the whole area better.