Tuesday, January 26, 2010


For the past 3 years, since my mother passed away, we have been going back and forward to England to check on the flat where she lived. There were many family mementos that I really wanted to bring back here. The perfect opportunity arose this past November. A cruise ship, sailing from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale. No restrictions on luggage, just get to and from both ports. England was easy. We dropped off the 12 suitcases at the dock, returning our rental car just a few blocks away, and set sail. First stop Le Havre.

Le Havre is the port of call for a visit to the D day beaches. We chose to take the trip from this port because it would take us to the British beaches and a British cemetery as well as the town of Bayeux. The following day the ship would dock in Cherbourg to visit the American beaches. Above is the now peaceful seaside resort of Arromanches, close to Gold beach. The British built a floating harbor here, which they towed across the channel, and which allowed them to land thousands of supplies. Remains of Mulberry harbour can still be seen today.

It was quite sobering to think of what happened on these beaches.

But more so to visit the cemeteries.

There were many wreathes of poppies laid on Remembrance Day, November 11th.

We also stopped at Pegasus Bridge, which was taken by the Airborne troops in the early hours of D Day. This disrupted the ability of the Germans to bring in supplies to the beaches of Juno Sword and Gold where British and Canadian troops were landing. David's father, who was a glider pilot, landed at Pegasus.

We also visited the town of Bayeux with its many half timbered buildings, and museum in which the 11th century Bayeux tapestry is displayed. This tapestry, which measures over 230' depicts the events leading up to the Norman Conquest of England, at the battle of Hastings in 1066.

The following day we visited Cherbourg.

Of course every French town has one of these.

We went round and round in circles looking for Le Jardin Botanique, we saw on the map. In the end we found it was closed due to damage from high winds. Then it started hailing. What a good job we were wearing our rain pants and jackets. Don't even consider going to Europe without this garb. You will need it.

Our next port of call was Vigo, Spain but not before crossing the dreaded Bay of Biscay. My parents crossed many years ago in a terrible storm. They were on a car ferry and the storm was so bad that the vehicles in the hold broke free from their chains and the ship began to list. My father said he was sure it was the end. In the end they arrived safely, and we arrived in Vigo, with not so much as a dramamine pill taken.
Not a very interesting port. We hiked up to the high point for a view of the port.

Our last port of call before heading out across the Atlantic was Funchal on the island of Madeira.
We had visited this island on a previous cruise and knew exactly where to go. The Jardim Botanico da Madeira.We were a lot smarter this time. Last time we tried to walk up to the garden but had to give up halfway because the road had no sidewalk and with a sheer wall of rock on one side and a sheer cliff on the other we thought we would definitely be risking our lives. We took the local bus.
Set high above the town on a steeply sloping hillside, these gardens are truly magnificent. The Mediterranean climate coupled with the rich volcanic soil makes for an amazing variety of plants, many indigenous to Madeira. I plan to give more time to this garden, in the future, on my garden blog. The town itself has a nice promenade and with such a mild winter climate is a tourist destination for many Europeans.

As we passed by this replica of a ship which once took the same route across the Atlantic, on which we were about to embark, I was happy that our ship was that big monster in the harbor.

Navigator of the Seas

This was our third transatlantic crossing with Royal Caribbean and we have enjoyed everyone. We have enjoyed wonderful dining companions with great food and entertainment. We have attended dance classes, played bridge, entered trivia contests, camera classes, attended great lectures on anything from Oceanography to Hollywood murders and just relaxed out on deck. That is, after we have walked the decks and the stairs! We make it a rule never to use the elevators which sometimes means walking as many as 30-40 flights a day.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale, and after some delay clearing customs and immigration, picked up a rental car and set out for the 1200 mile journey back to Texas. Along with my Great Grandfathers table writing desk, a dinner set, a boomerang that my great uncle brought from Australia in 1930, some Royal Lancastrian lustreware pottery, family photographs, documents, bibles, Grandfather's bowler hat, a glass fishing net float that I found on the beach when I was little, tea bags and many more treasured items. They all made it here in one piece.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the nice comment on my blog.
    I would love to see the Bayeux tapestry. I have several books about it including a huge pictorial, coffee table book depicting a close up of every square inch. One of my ancestors is William the Conqueror, I think that's what piqued my interest in the first place. I see by your profile, you are interested in genealogy as well.