It was twelve months of anxiety during which I subscribed to Babbel to learn some basic French; bought clothes and especially shoes I hoped would be appropriate for cool fall weather and lots of walking.
Finally the day arrived. At O'Hare we boarded a flight bound for Paris. It departed three hours late, making for an uncomfortable start to the overnight journey. The following day a Viking representative met us at Charles DeGaulle Airport and drove us to a Paris suburb where we boarded the longboat. From that point forward, the trip was amazing beyond my ability to describe it.
We saw the iconic Eiffel Tower along with the Louvre, Arch de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral. From there we sailed down the Seine River stopping to see Vincent Van Gogh's room where he painted; visited Rouen and the very spot where my patron saint, Joan of Arc, was burned at the stake; went inside a castle that dates back to the twelfth century; toured Napoleon's summer palace; bought souvenirs at an outdoor market where I was able to communicate with a vendor using my limited French; and paid our respects to the soldiers on Omaha Beach who lost their lives helping to liberate France. A special ceremony was held in which a French caretaker of the memorial thanked America on behalf of the French people. There wasn't a dry eye in the group.
I realize I have gone on much too long and may be trying your patience. My real message is: if you have an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone - do it. You never know what amazing experiences await you. Be sure to click on the photo tab and check out a few more pictures from my trip.