Saturday, 29 September -- LeHavre, Honfleur, Le Pays D'Auge

We were docked at LeHavre and set out early to cross the Seine to Honfleur. It took awhile to sort everyone out, since people for different all-day tours seemed to have been randomly assigned to buses, so the guides had to go from bus to bus searching for the people on the wrong ones. We were disappointed to be moved from a bus with lots of open seats to one that was crammed full.

Honfleur is the town where many of the Impressionists learned their tricks at representing light. Our guide has a PhD in Art History, so was able to explain some of those to us as we gazed over the harbour. She also gave us a good rundown on the story of the church that was saved from destruction in the war(s) by prayer. It was market day and there was also a big autumn food showcase. The architecture is wonderful, covering many centuries. We saw a wall with bricks from several eras -- different sizes, colours, and shapes reflecting the methods of the time. We had fries and ice cream for lunch, then some chocolate samples to finish off a nourishing meal.

The afternoon part of the tour started in Beaumont En Auge, an old monastery town with with a lovely old church, half-timbered thatched houses, pretty streets and a very interesting art gallery.
The Christian Drouin Calvados distillery has a lovely setting among many kinds of apple trees that are in mid-harvest now. We were given an interesting description of the distilling process, but when it came to sampling, most of us preferred the apple juice to the Calvados.

The most fun bit was seeing the bottles on the trees with apples growing inside them and the bottles with grown apples waiting to be filled.
Back on the ship we had an informative lecture about WW2, in preparation for tomorrow's visits to the D-Day beaches.

This was preceded by a nasty lecture from Natalija, who is in charge of excursions, scolding us for not knowing what tour we were on this morning and getting on all the wrong buses. What an example of poor customer relations! My goodness. I know that I was very specific about our tour because I knew there were 2 that might be confused (they should have been identified as A and B or something, but weren't), and that her staff gave us the wrong bus assignment. I even double-checked with the person checking us onto the bus, who said this was the correct tour. This does not speak well for AMA Waterways. Surely if someone makes a mistake, she should just say sorry, and try to avoid the same thing next time, not blame it on her clients. Well, tomorrow's pretty clear anyway, Americans at 8 am on one tour, everyone else at 8:30 on the other. (Just read this and realized it sounds like we're being segregated by  national origin or something, but it's because the D-Day landing beaches were specific -- Americans in one sector, Canadians on one beach, British and other allies on other beaches surrounding the Canadian one.)

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